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The Me Through Your Lens

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“Uh, excuse me? I’m looking for…” He paused, unsure of the correct word. “Bags?”


Nobody stopped for him. He was a foreigner in the biggest city of America, straight from the familiar home of Seoul. Everyone else around him either lived in the city, near the city or at least came to the city on a regular basis for work, vacation or just because. Not him. He was stuck here, completely alone, for the next four years.


Kim Taehyung was a freshman at NYU, which was a huge opportunity for him. Born and raised in Seoul, Taehyung had to work hard for the majority of his life to be accepted into the art program. After much research over the years, he was convinced that NYU was the best home for him. The city itself was the best place for him, with all of the museums and history around every corner. He wanted to learn it all. It took a lot of convincing and a lot of his mother’s tears, but he was able to receive his family’s approval to travel across the world and start a new journey in life. All alone.


Before leaving for America, Taehyung took the time to learn as much English as he could. He had the basics down, but some words were still foreign to him. His sentence structure wasn’t the best, but he basically knew what people were talking about. He could carry a conversation. On the plane, he was able to talk with a gentleman about his future endeavors in the big city. Nonetheless, he kept his language guide with him.


“Do you need help, sir?”


Taehyung turned to face a brown-haired girl with headphones draped over her neck. She was carrying a duffel bag and had a rolling suitcase behind her. She looked to be about his age, if not a couple of years older. She smiled at him.


“You’re not from here, are you?” she asked him.


Taehyung shook his head and smiled shyly. He removed the face mask he was wearing and placed it in his pocket. “No. I live in Korea. Seoul?”


The girl hummed and nodded. “Are you here on vacation?”


“I’m a student at the university.” He took a moment. “NYU.”


“That’s amazing! I graduated last semester. You’ll love it there.” She looked him up and down. It was hard for Taehyung not to notice. “Do you need help looking for something?”


He nodded and looked up at the signs, but they only directed him to different terminals and exits. “I need to find my bags.”


“Oh! Baggage claim!” She pointed in the opposite direction. “It’s going to be down that way. You’ll see the signs.”


“Oh, thank you very much.” Taehyung bowed in thanks.


The girl laughed at his gesture. “I’d show you the way, but my taxi is waiting.” She paused a moment and grabbed a pen from her bag. She eyed his hand. “May I?”


Taehyung was confused, but he held out his hand. Did she want a handshake? Should he not have bowed? He watched her curiously as she scribbled on his hand. They were numbers.


“If you want the grand tour of the big city, you can call me.” She smiled at him. And then winked before leaving with her headphones back in her ears.


Taehyung stared at the numbers on his hand. His stomach started to hurt. Maybe he should have been more obvious since he was in America. In Seoul, he had to hide the fact that he was gay. It was completely taboo back home, especially with his strict family. Nobody back home knew his sexuality. This was another reason why he wanted to come to America. In America, especially New York City, it was completely normal. He could be himself.


He clenched his fist and covered the numbers before heading over to get his bags. Taehyung found hand sanitizer on the wall and got some on his hands, rubbing them together until the numbers were gone. It would have been awkward to try and explain to some stranger that he didn’t like girls. It got him thinking, though. How was he even going to approach the subject? What if he didn’t make friends? How would he even talk about his sexuality to friends? He had friends back home, but they didn’t know about him.


Taehyung immediately found his two suitcases on the belt and grabbed them. He looked up at the signs and followed the ones that directed him to the exit. He needed to get a taxi to the university. Freshmen activities were supposed to start soon, according to the email he received not too long ago. There were going to be club sign-ups, games, food and ice breakers for the new students. Also, he needed to move into his dorm. He received information about his roommate a few weeks ago: Park Jimin.


He didn’t know much about his new roommate, but he hoped they’d have some things in common.


Taehyung went outside and instantly smiled as he looked around. He could hear the honking of cars, the chatter of travelers and the sounds of a new place. Seoul was busy, too. There was something different about New York, though. Maybe it was the atmosphere or the smells or just the feeling of being in a different time zone. It made his heart race.


“You need ride?” Taehyung turned to see a man with a turban on his head and a cigarette in his mouth.


He simply nodded and went up to the man’s taxi. “Yes. Uh, the university?”


“NYU? It’s a bit of a drive.” The man, regardless of his tone, put Taehyung’s things in the car.


Taehyung was well-prepared for his time in New York. His family was well off back home and promised to help provide for him as much as possible. He would never have to worry too much about money.


Taehyung got in the taxi and jumped whenever the taxi driver honked or cursed at passing drivers or pedestrians. He guessed that he’d have to get used to the crazy traffic. And look both ways before crossing the street. The driver nearly hit a couple of people.


Taehyung admired his view as he entered the city. The buildings were tall and shiny and new, but they reminded him of home. If he closed his eyes, he’d believe he was in Korea. People were walking on the sidewalk with friends, family and lovers. Some were walking alone, listening to music or talking on the phone. There were street performers, homeless people and a mass array of dogs. It was totally diverse and it fascinated him.


Another thing that caught his eye was the architecture. As he drew closer to the university, he took notice of the old buildings that held so much history. He passed museums, sculptures and even some art on the side of buildings. He wanted to explore it all.


The taxi soon pulled up and Taehyung was thrust into a new world as the driver took out his bags and put them on the sidewalk. Taehyung paid the man fairly and stared up at his home for the next four years. People walked past him as he admired the building that would take him to his future, showing him a new world.


A man accidentally bumped into Taehyung while talking on his cell phone. He apologized quickly, but gave him a once over with a slight smirk before continuing down the sidewalk. Taehyung blushed and adjusted his grip on his luggage. He began his walk down the sidewalk, following the map on his phone that would lead him to his dorm. Founders Residence Hall was going to be his home for the first year, but he wasn’t sure if he would still be there next year. According to the website, it was labeled as a “freshman” dorm.


As he traveled with his luggage, he noticed many fellow students hanging out and talking with others or with luggage, just like him. He was careful to not get in anyone’s way, even though it was difficult with it being busy. Most of the time, though, people were considerate of personal space. Taehyung looked up at the NYU flags gracing the buildings and smiled, feeling at peace.


He passed the Wasserman Center and, after a couple blocks, he arrived at the residence hall. He admired the architecture of the building, remembering that the residence hall was on the historic grounds of St. Ann’s Church. He touched the tip of his fingers to the brick and exhaled softly in fascination.


He stared at the doors for a moment. Would he need some kind of ID to get in? He didn’t have one yet. According to his information, he needed to get his ID at orientation. He stepped aside for a student with his parents. They were all carrying suitcases and he watched as the student rang a bell. A security guard opened the door and let them in, glancing at Taehyung afterward.


“Son, is this where you’re staying?” he asked him.


Taehyung nodded and quickly hurried inside. “Thank you.”


The floors were carpeted all around and, in front of him, there were turnstiles and many demographic flags. There was a small window to his left where, he guessed, was the place for security guards to hold their post. At least he would be safe here.


The security guard pointed. “Go straight to the front desk and they’ll take care of you.”


Taehyung bowed quickly and hurried past the turnstiles. When he reached the front desk, he only saw a couple of chairs off to the side and double doors past the desk. All he had to do was get through here and he would be set for a whole year. He let go of his luggage and smiled at the girl behind the desk. She had blonde hair and wore thick glasses. She was reading a book, but immediately put it down when she spotted him.


“Hello! New freshman?”


Taehyung nodded and pulled out his wallet. “Yes. I am here to move into my room.”


Clearly.


The girl smiled and began typing on the computer. “I’ll just need your license and some information. Then, we can take your picture for your school ID.”


Taehyung furrowed his brows. “I do that here?”


“Mhm-hmm! This ID will be your key to your room, but it works for all the campus buildings when applicable to students,” she explained, typing in some information from his license. “Korea, huh? You’re far from home.”


“Yes. It’s my first time in America,” he told her. He got goosebumps after saying that.


She handed him his license back. “You’ll love it here. We get so many people from all over the world and they all adjust perfectly.”


She asked him more information, which Taehyung provided. Afterward, she pointed a small camera attached to her computer toward his face and counted back from 3. There was a small flash as he smiled for his picture. Not long after that, his ID was prepared. He stared at it in awe. Here was the proof. Here was the ticket he needed.


“You’re all set!” said the girl, grinning. “Your room is going to be on the third floor and the elevators will be around the corner.”


Taehyung was bewildered. “That’s it? I can go?”


She nodded and gestured toward the double doors. “Scan your card over there and the doors will open for you. Welcome to NYU!”


Taehyung grinned and thanked her, bowing a few times. He grabbed his luggage and walked over to the doors. He scanned his ID and, just like she said, the doors opened for him. Inside, it was much louder and much more alive. There were students milling about in the lounge where there were couches, chairs, tables, games, food and music. It was incredibly vibrant and Taehyung could feel the energy coming from everyone else.


He went over to the elevators and waited for the doors to open. A couple more students came up behind him and waited for the elevators, too. Taehyung suddenly became nervous with the tight space once they were all inside the elevator. He held his breath as he put his face mask back on, waiting impatiently for his floor.


Once the elevators opened on his floor, he walked out and breathed a sigh of relief. He moved his face mask down to his chin and looked down the narrow, carpeted hall. He needed to find 335. He turned to the left of the hallway and spotted a sign that displayed different numbers. The odd numbers were down to the left while the even numbers were to the right. He headed left.


He could hear music coming from some of the rooms, a television and people talking. Some of the rooms were quiet, though. A door opened and two guys came out, laughing and heading for the elevator. Taehyung smiled on instinct and finally came to his door. There was nothing on the front, just the number 335. He glanced at his ID and scanned it over the metal box. The light turned green and he turned the knob, taking his first step.


He removed his mask and put it in his pocket. The room was a decent size, big enough to hold two double beds with matching desks and dressers. On the right side of the room next to the window overlooking the city, there was an unmade bed with folded sheets and a couple of pillows. A wooden desk was in front of the bed with a lamp and next to the desk was a dresser. On the left side of the room, it was the same set up but the bed was pointed toward the door against the wall. To Taehyung’s surprise, it was already made up with linen. The desk also had some books and photos. From what Taehyung could see in the photos, Park Jimin was a good-looking guy with a wide and plump smile. He had bright eyes and dark hair. He looked to be of the same nationality as him, which gave Taehyung a sense of comfort.


“Hey!”


Taehyung jumped back from his roommate’s desk, as if he were caught doing something he shouldn’t have been doing. It was the boy from the photos, standing in front of the door with that same smile in the photos.


“You must be Kim Taehyung,” he said. To Taehyung’s surprise, he bowed slightly before holding out a hand.


Taehyung bowed and shook his hand. “Yes. You can call me Taehyung.”


“Nice to finally meet you. You can call me Jimin.” He paused with a slight chuckle. “Can I just say that it’s honestly incredibly comfortable to know that you’re Korean, just like me? I guess it means I won’t have to try too hard to get you to like me.”


Taehyung couldn’t help but laugh. “I heard that there was plenty of diversity on campus.”


Jimin gestured behind him with his thumb. “Yeah. I actually met our resident advisor, Hoseok, though he likes to be called J-Hope.”


Taehyung nodded. “Oh, okay. How long have you lived in America?”


Jimin shut the door behind him and sat on his bed, getting comfortable. “I’ve been in America since I was…oh, gosh. Around 5 or 6? I’ve lived in New York ever since then when my family came here for better opportunities. What part of Korea are you from?”


“Seoul.”


Jimin raised his eyebrows. “Wow! Not too different from New York, I’d say. Well, besides the language. Is this your first time in America?”


“Yes. It’s really different and intimidating,” he explained. Taehyung didn’t know what else to say. Should he tell Jimin?


“It is, but you’ll get used to it. It’s just another city in the world.” Jimin smiled. “Stick with me. I’ll help you whenever you need it. How’s your English?”


Taehyung blushed and chewed on his lip. “It’s alright. I’ve been studying my guide for a while, but there are some phrases I don’t understand. I brought it with me, though.”


Jimin laughed. “Fair enough. I’ve got some of the lingo down, but I still like to go back to my roots around friends. J-Hope is Korean, too. I have a friend that works the front desk sometimes downstairs. You can meet him later, though he is definitely…something.”


Taehyung didn’t miss the look that came across Jimin’s face at the mention of his friend. He recognized that look, but let it go. He set his luggage on the unmade bed and looked out the window, suddenly transfixed with the outside world. This was his view: skyscrapers, trees, Washington Square Park. It was magical. He wanted to see it all.


“Hey, we better head over to Washington Square Park.”


Speak of the devil.


“What’s going on?” he asked, curious.


“It’s supposed to be a get together for the freshmen. All the clubs are going to be there, there’s going to be games, food. It should be fun. You can stick with me, if you want.” Jimin smiled at him.


Taehyung hummed in remembrance at the email about the activities. He felt at ease with Jimin’s smile and invitation. He had a friend.


The walk to Washington Square Park was a short one, but involved plenty of sights to see. Taehyung marveled at the scenery and the tall buildings he passed as he walked with Jimin. Jimin told him about the different places around campus that he heard were popular to frequent. He even told him about other things to do away from campus. Taehyung just got even more excited about exploring with his new friend.


When they arrived they were met with balloons, music, the smell of greasy food and plenty of people talking and laughing together. On one side of the park, there were booths advertising the different clubs. Near the fountain, people were sitting and enjoying the company of others while eating hot dogs, ice cream and BBQ. In the grass nearby, there were games: tug-of-war, inflatables, icebreakers and more.


Jimin grinned. “What should we do first? Are you hungry?”


Taehyung spotted a food truck near the fountain and gasped in delight. “No way! Panda Express!”


Jimin laughed. “Oh man. Yoongi will love you. He is obsessed with Panda Express!”


Taehyung smiled, but turned to him. “We can eat something else, if that’s not what you like.”


Jimin patted Taehyung’s shoulder comfortingly and grinned. “No, it’s cool. I’m going to head over to grab some cotton candy and I’ll meet you there, okay?”


He smiled as Jimin walked away and got in line for some food. Taehyung never imagined he would feel this much comfort and serendipity in such a foreign place, but here he was. He had a new friend, he was getting his favorite food and he was surrounded by so much energy that was uplifting.


All in all, though, he still felt lost. Sure, he was in this new place where nobody knew who he was, yet he was free to remove that mask and embrace who he was in a city that considered homosexuality to be normal. So, why did he feel like the mask was supposed to be permanently glued to his face?


He gave his order to the cashier and paid for his food, patiently waiting to the side for his number to be called. He looked over at the different booths of clubs: language, creative writing, film, yoga, politics, art. He made a mental note to look at the art booth later. Next to it was the photography club. A few of the members were standing around with fancy and expensive cameras, talking or shooting around them. One of them was sitting in a chair, fiddling with his camera lens as he cleaned it and inspected it, almost as if it were the most precious thing to him.


Taehyung couldn’t help but stare at the boy and at how beautiful he was. He had dark brown hair with a hint of lighter highlights. It was swept gracefully across his forehead, but the wind would sometimes pick it up and make it almost ethereal. He had a perfect pout of lips that were adorably pursed in concentration. Taehyung also selfishly admired his physique, dressed appropriately in cargo shorts and a tight white shirt. He had muscles and obviously wasn’t afraid to show it.


Suddenly, as if sensing it, the boy lifted his gaze to reveal beautiful brown eyes. They met Taehyung’s and he sucked in a breath, blushing profusely. He could feel the immediate electricity vibrate between them, even at such a distance. He quickly looked away. At the same time, his number was called. He grabbed his food and patiently waited for Jimin like he was supposed to, trying his hardest not to look back at the boy. Why was his heart beating so fast? He was a stranger. Maybe it was the look in his eyes or the intensity of the stare?


He risked a glance back at the boy and was surprised to find him still looking at Taehyung. Only this time, he had a slight and almost sheepish grin on his face. Taehyung turned around, wondering if maybe the boy was looking at some girl behind him. He was alone. The boy was looking at him. And, when Taehyung looked back, the smile was a bit wider and as he looked back down at his camera, his shoulders moved up and down as if he were chuckling at Taehyung’s surprised reaction.


“Hey!”


Taehyung jumped, nearly dropping his food. “Oh! You sure do like to surprise people.”


Jimin laughed and then followed his gaze to where the boy was, still sitting and cleaning his camera. “That’s Jeon Jungkook.”


“What?” Taehyung startled a bit, trying to eat his food as they slowly walked away from the food truck.


Jimin ate his cotton candy with a knowing smile. “He’s a sophomore, but he and I went to the same high school together. He’s very passionate about photography. He never goes without his camera.”


“I wasn’t- “


Jimin stopped in front of Taehyung and put a hand on his shoulder. Taehyung suddenly got worried that Jimin already knew about him and felt the hot heaviness in his body. How did he know? He definitely wasn’t checking out this Jeon guy. Was he? Was he so obvious about it that he didn’t even realize what he was doing?


Instead, Jimin threw him off. “I don’t have to be your only friend. It’s a big city!” He threw his hands in the air and laughed freely. “Make as many friends as you want. But, just remember I was your first friend.” He dramatically placed his hand on his own chest and closed his eyes, almost as if he were in a tragedy of some sort.


Taehyung was relieved. He laughed and lightly pushed Jimin. “You are my friend, Park Jimin.”


They both laughed and walked toward the games in the park. Taehyung, as he ate his food, took one last look over his shoulder back at the boy. Jeon Jungkook, as Jimin had said. However, he was no longer in his chair. He was talking to someone else at the booth. But, just like before, he had sensed Taehyung’s gaze and looked right back at him for a split second.


The smile was the same.

Chapter Text

The boy had dirty blonde hair that swept across his forehead in the light wind. He was wearing black jeans with holes in the kneecaps, a gray shirt and an unbuttoned, blue plaid shirt over it. What caught Jungkook’s attention were the boy’s eyes that were piercing even from such a distance. He could sense a light inside of him that was begging to be released, but something was stopping him. Jungkook was itching to find out what that was, which was strange.

Their eyes met and it nearly took his breath away, though he tried to play it cool. He watched as the boy turned away to grab his food from Panda Express. Jungkook looked down and pressed his lips together, trying his hardest to suppress a smile. He had never found another man attractive like this before, but he wasn’t going to deny it. He had never seen this boy before and Jungkook could sense the beautiful energy within. It was something that came naturally to him as a photographer. He paid attention to details and focused on the energy of his subject, even though this boy wasn’t even his subject. That’s part of why it was strange for him to feel some sort of connection with this mysterious boy.

Jeon Jungkook had been taking photographs and recording moments in the world ever since he could operate a camera. Capturing iconic moments in nature or in the city and then developing in a studio brought him a sense of peace. It filled him with a new light whenever he’d capture someone else’s smile, a couple’s stolen kiss or even the fresh blooming of a flower in spring. It was his safe space and he was never without his camera.

He was hardly ever away from the dark room or his computer, editing and adding to his portfolio. He had friends on campus, but that was about it. He had never really had any serious relationships. If he even tried to begin a relationship with another girl, he wouldn’t commit. Jungkook wasn’t sure if it was because he was too busy or too involved in his own world. Or, maybe he just didn’t trust himself to fall into a love that would consume his soul. Things felt better behind the scenes rather than up front.

Jungkook looked up to stare at the boy. He wasn’t paying attention to him, but seemed to be waiting for someone as he nibbled on his food. Even his mouth was perfect. He cautiously brought up his camera, focused and snapped a picture of the boy. He looked down at the photo and zoomed in on his jawline. Everything about him was too perfect. He had to know him. Was he even real?

He looked back up and, at the same time, the boy looked back at him, almost as if he sensed Jungkook watching him. The boy looked startled and looked over his own shoulder before turning back to him. It was just the two of them in their own world. Jungkook grinned and looked back down with a small laugh. He saved the photo and went back to cleaning his camera.

“Jungkook!” The voice was slightly muffled.

He looked up to see his friend Jin with food in his mouth and in his hands: assorted meats on a spear, steamed vegetables in a container and even pizza on top of said container. Jin was aspiring to be in the culinary arts and had a major love for cooking food. All he did was come up with new recipes and would present them to Jungkook and the others when the opportunity came about. Jin had been managing the culinary booth for most of the day. He had on his funky white, round sunglasses to block out the sun.

Jungkook stood up from his chair, but held on to his camera. He smiled at his friend. “Hey, Jin. How’s the food coming?”

“Ah, we’ve got a lot of contenders. Some of them don’t know how to appreciate spices, though.” He shuddered as he finished off his meat spear before tossing it carelessly in the trash, as if it weren’t also a dangerous weapon.

“Careful with that thing,” laughed Jungkook. “I can take some of that off of your hands.”

Jin hugged his food close as he munched on the pizza. “No way. I haven’t eaten all day. I’ve been too busy showing the freshmen how to properly categorize those meat spears. It’s no easy task when it comes to the finest art.”

Jungkook just shook his head. As Jin continued eating in front of him, he looked over at the boy one more time. He was talking with Jimin. He made a mental note to later ask Jimin who he was. Maybe that was pushing it, though. Their eyes met one more time and Jungkook smiled before turning back to Jin.

“Have you seen Joon?” asked Jin, starting on the vegetables.

Jungkook shook his head, stretching his arms up. “No. He texted me earlier about needing to be in the recording studio. You know how he is.”

Jin nodded. “Yeah, he’ll be there all day. That man works so hard for nothing.”

“What do you mean ‘for nothing’?” Jungkook gave him a strange look.

“Come on, Kook. You know how his family feels about his music,” said Jin.

It was true. Kim Namjoon was a talented artist. Almost every day, he was writing down new song lyrics inspired by what he saw in life and what he went through, especially with his own mind and his own life. Yes, it was a talent but it came at a price. Namjoon constantly dealt with his family’s disapproval and was forced to take business classes, since they wanted him to take over the family company that only handled numbers and stock prices. It was a job with chains, at least in Namjoon’s mind. Music was his passion. Yet, it was hard to continue enjoying it when his parents kept giving him anxiety and stress over his own life choices. Needless to say, it did worry Namjoon’s friends a lot, especially when he was in the studio all the time. Sometimes, Namjoon could take it too far.

“His family is traditional, you know? Music isn’t a job, according to them.” Jin pursed his lips.

Jin was lucky to be able to pursue a career in the culinary arts. His parents were pretty laidback and only cared about what their son wanted. It helped that Jin was an amazing cook, which his family really enjoyed.

Jungkook couldn’t relate with encouraging parents. To him, he didn’t even have a family.

“I’ll check up on him later,” promised Jungkook. “I’ve got to stop by the house in a little bit.”

“How is your mom?” asked Jin, not unkindly.

Jungkook shrugged and kept his eyes elsewhere. “Still living and breathing. That’s all I can really hope for, you know?”

Jin nodded and knew to drop the subject. Jungkook didn’t really like to talk about his mom. He wasn’t going to push it.

Jin turned around when someone tapped on his shoulder. A brown girl with flour on her face and pants smiled sheepishly at him. “Uh, Kim? We have a situation involving the salt and sugar.”

Jungkook chuckled quietly as Jin stared at her wide-eyed. He turned to Jungkook and put his hand on his shoulder. “Gotta go.”

Jin ran away with the girl and, within the entire park itself, his rapid shouts of disapproval in his Korean language could be heard.

Jungkook sighed and looked around. New students were exploring the park and the different clubs while enjoying the various diversity of food that the school had generously paid for. The boy was nowhere to be seen. He packed his camera in his bag, said a quick goodbye to the others in the booth and left the park behind.

 

The lower east side was a generally poor community in New York City. Some of the buildings were run down, there was always trash in the streets, fights, crime and unfortunate homeless people looking for the safest steps to sleep on or roofs to sleep under. Chinatown was conveniently located at the south and west border of the lower east side and a quick bike ride to Koreatown, which was where Jungkook liked to frequent for traditional cooking. When his grandparents were still alive, Jungkook always had the advantage of getting a homecooked meal that reminded him of his heritage. Koreatown wasn’t too bad, though. Most of it was authentic, but he still missed the sensation of a homecooked meal. Besides Jin, he couldn’t remember the last time he had a homecooked meal.

Jungkook kept his head down as he walked along the sidewalk, taking a few turns and stopping at a couple of crosswalks to get to his building. He arrived at a red brick building that was nestled in between matching brick and small markets that went into the underground. The buildings were tall and seemed to reach all the way to space if you craned your neck. There were convenient steps to reach the rooftop or if someone wanted to leave their apartment from their window, which happened more often than usual.

Jungkook looked at a deep brown door at the bottom of the stairs. There was only one window, but it was dirty and instead of curtains, a simple blanket covered the view. He took the steps quickly and unlocked the door, heading into a different reality.

The living room was cast in an ugly yellow light, mixed with the images from the ancient television set. Books on a shelf were dusty, having been barely touched in a few months. The kitchen across the way, as usual, had a few dishes piling up in the sink. He spotted a cockroach on the counter. He glanced at the red couch and at the woman that was nestled underneath a pile of blankets and multiple pillows, her eyes staring blankly at the television. She had dark circles under her eyes, her skin was sunken in with wrinkles and exhaustion and her hair was in a tight bun that hadn’t seen fresh air in God knows how long.

Jungkook set his things down by the door and walked over to her, kneeling down and fixing the blankets. “Hey, umma.”

She didn’t respond. She didn’t even look at him. He should be used to this, but he wasn’t. He couldn’t.

When Jungkook was seventeen, his father had found out about a growing tumor in his brain that had surprised everyone. His father had been exceptionally healthy and always made sure to get checkups, even if it was for a simple cough. So, when he had gone to a regular check up for a headache and had been told that he had only a few months to live, nobody knew how to register the news.

Jungkook had been incredibly close to his father. He was the one that encouraged his love for film and photography, buying him his first camera for his birthday. He could hardly count how many photos and videos he had taken of his father, but now, it was hard to look at them. How long had the tumor been there when his father was smiling or laughing for Jungkook? How long had his head been hurting, thinking it was only a headache?

It was even harder on his mother. They had been together since they were kids and were completely in love. Jungkook had never seen another love like theirs. He was never one to find it gross when they kissed in front of him or when they whispered sweet nothings. He found it inspiring and special and it made him whole to know that his family was close to perfect.

Jungkook had been the one to get the call from the authorities that his father had collapsed after exiting the subway one regular morning on his way to work. His head hitting the concrete amidst the tumor reaching its limit had immediately ended his life. It was the same day that his mother had lost her will to smile or to even live. Rather than a couple of months, his father had died after a couple of weeks. That was over a year ago and his mother hadn’t spoken since. Seeing her pain over the loss of another human changed Jungkook. He figured this was why he could never commit to another person: he was afraid of losing them if he got too close. Nothing in life was ever certain. His father’s death and his mother’s pain made that certain.

Jungkook took care of her, though. When his aunt wasn’t around, since she only stayed during the night, Jungkook did everything else: he bathed her, he fed her, he shopped for her and he cleaned for her. His aunt insisted that she stay with her sister overnight so Jungkook could still focus on living at the university and making good grades, which is what his father had always wanted for him. It was hard, but Jungkook couldn’t say no.

He stroked his mother’s hair, but she didn’t budge. “Umma, let me know if you need anything. I’ll be in the kitchen.”

Jungkook got to work and began cleaning up the dishes, washing and drying them before putting them in the cabinets. He made sure the sink was clean and the counters were cockroach free before moving on to sweeping the floor. This was what he did on a regular basis. He didn’t want his mother to get sick, but he didn’t know how else to help her. Therapy didn’t work and talking to her didn’t work. The least he could do was keep her alive, safe and healthy. He vacuumed the living room, tidied up the clutter and even made sure her unused bedroom was still clean. His mother hadn’t slept in the bedroom since his father’s death, but he still changed the sheets if they ever got musty. Maybe one day things would return to normal.

After a few hours, the sun was beginning to set. Jungkook had his first day of classes tomorrow and he didn’t want to get back too late and lose out on sleep. Plus, the sky was supposed to be perfectly clear tonight and he wanted to capture the stars back in the park. He went into the living room and stopped, spying a few airplane bottles in the corner near the couch.

This happened more often than he liked. She wouldn’t talk to her own son, but she’d find the time to go the market next door to get alcohol. It made him sick, but what could he do? All he could do was pick up the mess and turn a blind eye.

He knelt down beside her and kissed her cheek. “I’ll pick up some groceries for you this week, umma. I love you.”

Still nothing.

He picked up his bags, slipping his backpack over his shoulders. As soon as he opened the door and stepped outside, he heard a few clicks. He quietly looked over his shoulder and watched as his mother took a long drag from a cigarette, slowly pulling out another airplane bottle from underneath the blankets.

All he could do was close the door and lock it, leaving her to herself. It pained him too much to watch her destroy herself. No matter what he did, no matter how much he cleaned and tried to keep her safe, it didn’t seem like it was enough. To Jungkook, she was slowly killing herself and he wasn’t sure how much time was left.

He walked down the street, looking up at the sky. The sun was low as it slowly began its descent. He could see the moon peeking up on the other side and exhaled slowly, feeling a sense of relief the farther he got away from the lower east side and the closer he got to Washington Square Park.

It wasn’t too bad of a walk. Others might find it too long and too much of a drag, opting for the subway or a taxi. Jungkook appreciated taking the long way back to school. He got the opportunity to admire the views of his home, especially with his camera. He stopped when he saw a man and his dog sitting on a bench near the park. The dog was sitting on the bench itself while the man read the newspaper.

“Excuse me?” The man looked up, as did the dog. They both had wrinkles and Jungkook had to stop himself from laughing. He held up his camera sheepishly. “I’m putting together a portfolio for college and wondered if I could take a picture of you two.”

Surprisingly, the man smiled. “Of course.”

The man returned to his newspaper, acting natural. The dog kept looking at Jungkook, but when he lifted his camera up, the dog turned his head away as if on cue to act natural with his owner. Jungkook snapped the picture, inspected it and smiled before putting his camera away.

“Are you a student at NYU?” asked the man, putting down his newspaper and turning back to Jungkook. He gestured for him to sit down.

Jungkook sat down next to the dog, who instantly begged for him to pat his head. Jungkook happily obliged. “I’m a sophomore.”

The man smiled and nodded proudly. “I went to NYU a million years ago.” He chuckled. “It’s such a beautiful campus. I left New York, though, once I graduated.”

“What did you do?”

“I got my degree in journalism and travelled the world; London, India, Korea.”

Jungkook grinned. “I have family in Korea.”

“No kidding!” The man’s eyes got wide.

Jungkook shrugged, his smile dropping a bit. “Yeah. My grandparents would visit often and bring the culture with them. It’s been a while since I’ve experienced my culture. The closest I get to it is Koreatown.”

“Nothing is ever like the real thing,” said the man. “You always have to make life real. Never take it for granted.”

He thought about his mother, his father and his commitment issues. The man was right, but Jungkook could never find the will to make it possible for him to have happiness with another person. He pet the dog one last time and stood up, glancing at the darkening sky.

“I better get going. I’ve got class in the morning. It was nice talking to you…”

The man, instead of shaking his hand, bowed his head in respect to Jungkook’s heritage. “Grant.” He glanced at his dog. “Jack.”

Jungkook smiled at the gesture and bowed. “Grant.” He bowed to the dog. “Jack.”

He left the two behind and made his way back to Washington Square Park. All of the booths were gone, the trash cans were full of discarded wrappers and food, and the food trucks were gone. Some students had drawn on the concrete with chalk, commemorating their last year at school or their first year tomorrow. Jungkook took photos of the messages one at a time.

He walked farther into the park and on to the grassy area, staring up at the sky. It was dark now and the stars were out. He admired the constellations as he held up his camera, managing to capture a shooting star. It was absolutely beautiful. He changed the settings on his camera to record and captured more of the night sky, finding the full moon up above. It was bright, brighter than he had ever seen. He moved the camera lower toward the dark trees, the lamps and even a few strangers jogging or walking with friends and dogs.

He paused as he got lower toward the grass. There he was, the boy from today. He was wearing the same thing he had seen him in and was lying in the grass, staring up at the stars and the moon. The moon was shining down on him, casting him in an ethereal glow that took Jungkook’s breath away. His heart started to pound and his hands started to get sweaty. The boy’s mouth opened up in awe for a moment at the sky and Jungkook nearly dropped his camera from the sensation.

Why was he feeling like this toward this stranger? Sure, he was beautiful. Jungkook wanted to know more about him, though. What was his soul like? What did he sound like? What did he feel like? The thought alone actually caused Jungkook’s camera to fall into the grass with a light sound. The sound startled the boy. He sat up and turned around with a gasp, stunned to see Jungkook. He noticed the camera on the ground, which Jungkook had completely forgotten about. He was too busy staring awkwardly at the boy and feeling ashamed at his own creepiness. Why did he have to stare so much?

The boy jogged over to him and picked up his camera, inspecting it. “Are you okay? I don’t think your camera broke.”

Jungkook’s suspicions were right. He did have a soothing voice. It just made his heart pound more. “Uh, sorry. It just…slipped.”

The boy handed him the camera. He was right. Jungkook inspected it and confirmed that there was no scratch or dent. The boy put his hands in his pockets, his shoulders rising up. “So, are you a student?”

Jungkook nodded as he fiddled with his camera, finding it hard to meet his eyes. “Yeah. I’m a sophomore.” He lifted up the camera. “Film. Photography. That kind of thing.”

God, how much more awkward could he get?

The boy nodded. “I’m a new student. It’s my first year.” He paused as he tried to think of more words. He apologetically looked at Jungkook with a slight smile. “I’m sorry. My English isn’t great yet.”

“Oh, so you aren’t from America?” he asked.

“I’m from Seoul. In Korea.”

“No way!” Jungkook finally looked up at him and met his eyes. Up close, they were even more mesmerizing. He tried to focus. “I have family in Seoul!”

The boy grinned, taking Jungkook aback. What else was beautiful about him?

“What a coincidence! You’re the second person I’ve met that has the same culture as I do,” he explained. “Do you know Park Jimin?”

Jungkook smiled and nodded. “Yeah, I know him. There’s a lot more people here on campus that you can meet. A lot of my friends are like me.”

It suddenly got quiet as the boy just nodded with a smile. It got awkward again as Jungkook could only stare at him. His eyes unconsciously roamed over his body from head to toe. They were nearly the same height. He noticed that the boy was a bit skinnier than him, but he looked incredibly healthy. He definitely had a great sense of style. The pants, up close, really hugged his…

Awkward just went to uncomfortable.

Jungkook didn’t understand what he was thinking or how he was feeling. He had never been interested in another male like this. He had always gone out with girls. He had thought about other males in magazines, billboards or even around campus. Nothing too major. He just thought they were handsome. But, this boy was different. There was something about him that was brighter than everyone else in the world.

He just needed to know one thing before the night ended. “I’m Jeon Jungkook. But, you can just call me Jungkook.” He bowed respectfully.

The boy smiled at his gesture and bowed back gracefully. “Kim Taehyung. You can call me Taehyung.”

Taehyung. It rolled off the tongue. He just wanted to say it over and over again.

“Taehyung.” Jungkook smiled and suddenly held out his hand. Though it was traditional to bow to strangers of the same culture, touching wasn’t entirely respectful with strangers. Korean culture allowed touching if you really knew the person. Though, a handshake was considered respectful between two men that were strangers.

In all honesty, Jungkook wanted to know what he felt like. What would it feel like to hold his hand?

Taehyung looked at his hand, but he was still smiling. He took his hand and they both looked at each other. They didn’t even shake. They just stood still, holding hands, as they both gazed at each other’s eyes. Jungkook could feel it and he was pretty sure that Taehyung could feel it, too. Something was happening. He watched as Taehyung’s chest moved up and down at a slightly rapid pace, just like his.

What was this?

Jungkook couldn’t feel like this. His mind caught up to him quickly. This was how it started. He’d meet someone, get close to them and things would start to happen. The road led straight to the choice of a commitment and Jungkook always knew his answer beforehand. He wouldn’t allow his heart to break like his mother’s did. He just couldn’t let that happen.

Jungkook let go of Taehyung’s hand and held on to his camera, trying to keep his eyes away from Taehyung’s. “Uh, I better get going. Class tomorrow. First day.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Taehyung was quiet and, when Jungkook glanced at him, the smile wasn’t there anymore. He wasn’t looking at Jungkook, either. “Well, maybe I’ll see you around campus?”

Jungkook just nodded, quickly waved and then walked away in the direction of his building. He had to get his mind straight. He had to get his heart straight. But, it was hard to do when his heart was still pounding even when he got to his room for the night.

Chapter Text

An incessant vibration underneath Taehyung’s head took him out of his dream of a certain dark-haired boy. He felt around underneath his pillow, his eyes still closed, and grabbed his phone to put his alarm on snooze. He wanted to fall back asleep, but his mind wouldn’t let him. He couldn’t stop thinking about last night. He met the boy for the first time, the boy whose smile completely stole his heart. Jeon Jungkook. Jungkook.

Taehyung couldn’t get his voice out of his mind. It was deep, but there were moments where his voice would get a bit high when he smiled. Oh, his smile. He had the best teeth he had ever seen. Jungkook just reminded him of a rabbit and a hell of an adorable one. He looked even better up close. Taehyung didn’t know what to think about this, though. Here he was in a foreign country, in a place that was totally acceptable of homosexuality. He should feel free to grow feelings for Jungkook, but he just didn’t know how to approach the idea. He wasn’t the best judge of character. How was he supposed to know whether or not Jungkook was interested in men without being rude?

He sat up in bed and ruffled his hair, trying to clear his thoughts. He barely knew the kid. He shouldn’t rush into things. He needed to focus on school, meaning he had to get out of bed and get ready for his first day. Taehyung looked over to the neighboring bed. The covers were thrown back and Jimin was gone. He wondered if he was already in class. He wasn’t sure if he should tell his roommate about last night. Then again, Taehyung wasn’t sure if he should tell Jimin just yet about his sexuality. He didn’t know Jimin that well. Could he trust him with that much honesty?

Taehyung rifled through his clothes and chose a pair of dark jeans, an oversized flannel and his favorite boots. He settled his clothes on his bed and grabbed his toiletries: coconut-smelling shampoo, a towel, toothbrush and toothpaste, his comb and a bar of soap. He made sure to grab his deodorant and cologne before heading out of the room, making sure he had his key with him.

In the hallway, there were a few other people that paid him no mind. They looked dead tired with their ruffled hair and their sleepy eyes as they tried to figure out which way was left and which way was right. Clearly, he was more of a morning person than they were. Taehyung went into the group showers and paused.

Some of the stalls were taken, steam coming through from the showers. A few of the boys were in front of the mirror. But what caused Taehyung to blush was the fact that they were all half naked, a towel the only item of clothing around their waist. He could see abs, tan skin, brown skin. Some were curvy and some were skinny.

He gulped, feeling nervous as he tugged on his pajamas and gripped his basket of toiletries. He had never really gotten naked in front of other strangers, let alone boys that weren’t in his family. And attractive boys at that. He was suddenly grateful that Jungkook didn’t live in the same building.

Before his mind could wonder any further, he waited patiently for one of the showers to open up and for a few of the boys to leave the room. He wasn’t in too much of a hurry. He watched a few boys leave and then one of the showers turned off. Taking the opportunity now that no eyes were on him, Taehyung took off his pajamas and wrapped his towel around his waist. He folded up his pajamas and placed them on the bench.

“Hey, Taehyung!”

He turned around to see Jimin coming out of the showers. He had a towel around his waist and his hair was dripping wet. He had a smile on his face as he waved and went over to the mirrors, completely unfazed by the fact that other boys were half-naked. Taehyung wondered how he could be so calm.

“H-hey.” Taehyung gripped his towel and looked around.

Jimin noticed his demeanor and chuckled a bit as he combed his hair back. “Are you okay? You look nervous.”

Taehyung shrugged. “I’ve never shared a shower with other people like this.”

Jimin nodded and grabbed his things, walking over to him. “There’s nothing to be ashamed of. Take it from me; a friend to a friend. You’re not too bad to look at.”

Taehyung furrowed his brows as he blushed. “What?”

Jimin laughed and shook his shoulder a bit. “Take a compliment, Taehyung. I’ll see you later, okay?”

Taehyung smiled at his friend and tried to calm down, nodded and bowing his head slightly as Jimin walked out. He took the opportunity and got into the shower. The hot water was exceptionally soothing on his skin as he washed his hair and cleaned his body. He was surprised at how good the water pressure was for a college dorm. When he was done, he peeked out of the curtain and found he was completely alone. He dried off and ran his comb through his hair after wrapping the towel around his waist.

He left the showers and starting making a mental list of what he needed to get for his first few classes. He only had about three for the day until 4 o’clock. He hoped to find a good place to eat around the city. He also wanted to explore the city as much as possible before he got assigned homework and projects.

He unlocked his door and opened it. As soon as it shut behind him, his eyes went wide. At the same moment the door closed, Jimin had removed his towel from around his waist. His back was to Taehyung, giving him an eyeful of his ass. Taehyung’s heart started to pound as his body flushed red with embarrassment. This was the last thing he ever thought he would see, especially his first full day in a strange country. Especially with his roommate for the next year!

Jimin quickly wrapped the towel around his waist and gasped out loud as he looked at Taehyung in shock. “O mai gat, joesonghamnida!” He quickly bowed his head multiple times as he apologized to Taehyung. He, too, was turning red.

Taehyung didn’t know what to say or what to do. He muttered a few words in Korean and went past Jimin to get his clothes, his books and his bag before leaving the room. On the way out, he could hear Jimin trying to call him back. He couldn’t face him. Not after that. Today was not going well so far.

Taehyung quickly changed in the showers in private. He was running out of time and he needed to get to class. He wanted a good seat. By the time he finished and gave himself one more look in the mirror, he left and headed to the lobby. Immediately, he bumped into a fully dressed Jimin. They both were quiet for a moment, both of them flushing red.

Jimin glanced over at the front desk before looking at Taehyung. “I’m really sorry. I should be more careful, I suppose.”

Taehyung wasn’t sure what to say. He just looked down, his hair falling into his eyes as he shook it out with his fingers.

“What building are you going to?” he asked him.

“Silver center?” Taehyung double checked his schedule on his phone to confirm.

Jimin nodded. “Me too. Come on, let’s walk together. I promise I won’t take my pants off or anything.”

Taehyung couldn’t help but laugh at his joke. He had to hand it to him; his roommate knew how to make a situation easier to handle. They both left the building and began walking toward the building. It wasn’t too far of a walk, just a few blocks. Already some students were making their way to classes; yawning, laughing with friends, holding hands. Taehyung glanced at a couple holding hands and smiling at each other.

Jimin watched him closely and smirked a bit. “Do you miss home already?”

“A little. It’s different being here, but I like it.” Taehyung smiled at Jimin.

“I forgot to mention it, but you came in last night a little…flustered.” He raised his eyebrows as his smirk grew. “Care to explain?”

Taehyung blushed and averted his gaze. “Well, last night, I met Jungkook.”

Jungkook? So, he wants you to call him that? Not Jeon?” Jimin laughed. “I didn’t realize you two were so close already.”

At Jimin’s words, Taehyung gripped the straps of his backpack hard. His heart started to pound and he could feel heat grow within his neck and up to his head. He wasn’t angry, he was just embarrassed. He was fawning over a boy he barely knew, but he couldn’t hide what he was feeling. He wasn’t sure what it was.

“Taehyung?” Jimin tried to meet his eyes to no avail. “What’s wrong? Did I say something?”

“No. I just-” Taehyung noticed, when they arrived at the Silver Center, a small Starbucks café. “Can I get you coffee?”

Jimin held the door open for them and nodded. “Thank you, Taehyung.” He bowed quickly as they walked to stand in line.

Taehyung was quiet in his thoughts as they waited to order. He had to tell Jimin about him. They were going to be roommates for a while and they were already becoming such good friends. He was easy to talk to. It should be easy to tell him his secret, but it only made him want to throw up.

They ordered their drinks and Taehyung paid the cashier. They sat at a table once they received their drinks. Both of them had a little time before their classes started, but Taehyung was still quiet. Jimin could tell something was bothering him.

“You’ve barely had any of your drink,” he told him, giving him a small smile. He lightly touched his wrist in comfort. “What’s going on?”

“Jimin-” Taehyung faltered for a few moments. How was he supposed to do this?

“I already consider you one of my best friend’s, Taehyungie. You can tell me anything, just as long as you are comfortable.”

Taehyung smiled at the nickname and took a sip of his coffee. He took a deep breath and exhaled slowly before looking around, making sure they were both in private. “Jimin, I’m gay.”

He expected a couple of things from Jimin: shock, doubt or even anger. What if he was homophobic? Instead, Jimin said the one thing he never really expected.

“It’s okay, Taehyung. I’m gay, too.”

Taehyung had speculated due to Jimin’s expression whenever he talked about Yoongi at the front desk, but he had never expected him to be so comfortable in confessing to him so casually. What were the odds that his roommate would be gay, too? America was something else.

Jimin laughed a little at Taehyung’s wide eyes. “I wasn’t sure when to tell you, either. I couldn’t really tell if you were, but I was surer about it when you talked about Jungkook. The look on your face was angelic.”

“Angelic?” asked Taehyung, not sure what he meant.

“You blush and you just get this amazing look. I don’t know. It’s nice.”

Taehyung smiled. “Oh, yeah? I noticed the look on your face yesterday when you talked about Yoongi at the front desk.”

Jimin nearly choked on his coffee. He started to stutter and move his hands around a lot on the table. “N-no. That’s nothing. I j-just…”

“Jimin, come on.” Taehyung laughed at his actions. “If I can admit my attraction to Jungkook, you can admit your attraction to Yoongi.”

Jimin looked around and then sighed out loud, letting his head fall in his hands. He ran his fingers through his hair. “O, ssibal! Naega wae ireoji?! Yes, I think he is just so handsome and beautiful. He has the cutest gummy smile I have ever seen in my life. He can be so sarcastic and can be such an asshole, but then he can be the nicest guy in the world. He has such a cute laugh. And God Taehyung, his muscles. He is so fit.”

Taehyung laughed out loud at Jimin’s babbling and covered his mouth as he exploded in a fit of giggles. He could definitely see how smitten Jimin was and it was just the cutest. He calmed down after a few minutes.

“I can’t do anything about it,” he said sadly.

Taehyung furrowed his brows. “Why do you say that?”

Jimin shrugged. “I don’t know.”

“Do you know if he is-” Taehyung moved his hands around to try to get Jimin to understand.      

Jimin understood and nodded. “He is bisexual. I just don’t know how to move things further. We have been friends for a little while and I don’t know how to make the first move.”

“You’ll never know unless you try,” said Taehyung. He got up to throw his coffee away.

Jimin threw away his cup as they both put their backpacks back on to get ready for class. “Oh yeah? Look who is talking. You barely talked to Jungkook. How are you going to move forward?”

Taehyung shook his head frantically. “Hwajereul bakkuji maseyo!”

Jimin just laughed and patted his shoulder. “Alright, alright. We’re going to be late for class. I have to go to the very top.”

“I think my room is down the hall,” said Taehyung.

“Here.” They both exchanged numbers quickly. “Text me later. And hey, I’m glad we were able to talk about this.”

“Me too,” Taehyung said, smiling in relief.

“Don’t worry about me liking you, though. You aren’t really my type. I don’t really go for twinks,” he smirked at his joke.

Taehyung furrowed his brows, confused. “What is a twink?”

Jimin leaned toward his ear and whispered, causing Taehyung to burst into another fit of giggles. “I think we have the same type of guy, though.”

“Oh yeah?”

Jimin sighed softly and smiled widely, his plump lips stretching to show his perfect teeth. “Muscles.”

 

Taehyung had a good first day. His first class was simple history, which he rather enjoyed. He got to learn more about America, more than he had learned by himself before coming to the new country. After history, he had an art history class. It was fascinating and, though it was just the first day filled with introductions and ice breakers, he was eager to learn more about the famous artists he admired. He had to make a mental note to look for brushes and paint. It had been a while since he had painted anything. Not since before he had decided to leave Korea.

As the day neared to a close and the afternoon rolled in, Taehyung decided to go to the gym. He liked to run to clear his mind. Strangers wouldn’t think so looking at him physically, but he enjoyed keeping a healthy body and mind. He could lift a few weights with the best of them. He liked to play basketball, but it had been a while since he had found a few good guys to play with. Exercising helped him to breathe and to clear his mind, especially when he struggled so much with his own self.

Every day, it bothered him that nobody knew he was gay. He had known his sexuality practically his whole life. But, his family was strict on the norm of society in South Korea. Homosexuality was not accepted back home. It was a sin and it was an abomination to be gay. When Taehyung decided to come to America for school, he figured he would feel freer. He would feel at ease with his true self.

So, why was it so hard to tell Jimin earlier? Why was it so hard to accept himself in a country that was totally different from South Korea?

He took a breath and entered the Palladium gym, having already changed into a pair of basketball shorts and a simple white shirt. He carried a gym bag with a change of clothes. Jimin had texted earlier and wanted to meet up for dinner later.

Taehyung kept his bag to the side of the track as he started to run laps, keeping headphones in his ears as music played in time to his footsteps. With the beat going and his heart thumping, he was able to breathe and just let go. He didn’t have to worry right now about what his family would think about him or what strangers saw. He could just be.

After a while, Taehyung shifted to lifting different weights. He had tried to go higher in the weight class before, but he was too small for that. He wasn’t interested in looking like a beef cake, anyway. He soon transitioned to some machines before finally having enough, feeling gross with sweat and his hair sticking to his forehead. He grabbed his bag and went into the locker rooms, changing out of his dirty clothes before wrapping a towel around his waist to get ready for a shower. He surely didn’t want to show up to dinner looking like a hot mess. Thankfully, he didn’t have to be embarrassed about showering in front of strangers. The locker room was completely empty, surprisingly.

Taehyung locked his bag in the locker and tossed a shampoo bottle in the air as he walked toward the showers. As soon as he was about to catch the bottle, he bumped into another body coming from the showers. He looked up and his heart stopped.

There, standing in front of him with just a towel around his waist, was Jungkook. His dark hair was wet and dripping. His chest was bare and still wet from the shower. What caught Taehyung’s eyes were his abs, his beautiful abs that were wet and allowed his trail of hair to glisten. Taehyung gulped and bit down on his bottom lip. He couldn’t stop staring at Jungkook.

And Jungkook couldn’t stop staring, from what Taehyung gathered. Both boys were practically naked. Jungkook’s eyes were trailing over the sweat glistening from Taehyung’s body. He could hear the intake of breath Jungkook took and it caused Taehyung’s heart to beat hard and fast. It was a sight to behold.

Jungkook’s fingers clutched his towel, almost afraid it was going to fall off. Taehyung couldn’t believe this day. Why was he seeing everyone naked? He saw Jimin’s ass and now he was seeing Jungkook practically naked. Except, this time was different. With Jimin, he was incredibly embarrassed and flustered. Sure, he was attractive.

But, he wasn’t Jungkook. With Jungkook, Taehyung was feeling something different. Jungkook was incredibly attractive and, he wasn’t going to lie. Taehyung could feel a twitch in his groin and prayed that nothing was evident through the towel. This boy was something else.

“I’m-” Jungkook cleared his throat and avoided Taehyung’s eyes. “I should-”

Taehyung nodded and proceeded to get around him. Instead, they both moved in the same direction. It became a little dance and Taehyung thought for sure that this was some sort of punishment. They both stopped and, suddenly, Jungkook’s hands went to Taehyung’s shoulders. The contact shocked him. He moved Taehyung to the side until they were both in the direction they needed to be; Taehyung’s back to the showers and Jungkook’s back to the lockers.

Jungkook didn’t move his hands from Taehyung’s skin. Taehyung watched as Jungkook’s eyes slowly began to roam over his body, inch by inch. He had to resist closing his eyes with ecstasy. Inside, he was squirming. Suddenly, Jungkook’s hands left his shoulders. His fingertips slowly grazed down his chest and his stomach. Taehyung gasped at the sensation and the fire it left on his skin. It was the first time a boy had ever really touched him like this. He wanted Jungkook to be the only boy.

Jungkook’s hands left his skin as he took one last look at Taehyung. He bowed his head quickly before rushing around the corner, leaving him alone. Taehyung pressed his back against the wall and touched his chest where Jungkook’s fingers were a few seconds ago.

What was that?

Taehyung knew one thing. A hot shower was out of the question.

           

The sun was slowly setting. Classes were officially over for the first day, excluding the rare evening classes that some students were stuck with. Students were in a few places. The hardcore students were in the library already, studying for their classes in groups or alone, even though exams were far away. Some students took advantage of the fact they didn’t have homework and were already back in the dorm, relaxing and recollecting their thoughts. Others, like Jimin and Taehyung, were hanging out with friends or exploring the big city.

Taehyung and Jimin had met up at Panda Express, the real restaurant that wasn’t too far from campus. The food truck had just been a special event. Students loved to come together at popular restaurants and locations with friends. For Jimin and Taehyung, their favorite place was Panda Express, more so Taehyung’s. Jimin knew how much he loved the food and decided to treat him to some good food after a busy first day.

It wasn’t exactly the kind of friendly dinner Taehyung had hoped for, though.

Jimin was currently cracking up in his seat, nearly falling over with laughter. Taehyung had told him the story about bumping into Jungkook in the showers, every last detail. He had taken that cold shower, with it being no surprise that he had been aroused after that moment. While Taehyung was mortified, Jimin found it absolutely hysterical. A few people were staring, but the majority were ignoring.

Taehyung rolled his eyes and crossed his arms over his chest. “I’m glad you find this hilarious, Jimin.”

Jimin was still laughing.

Jegiral! Jimin, stop!” he yelled, though he laughed a bit over how ridiculous the whole day was.

Jimin toned down his laughter until he had stopped and wipe at his teary eyes. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” He paused, seeing how uncomfortable it really made Taehyung. He touched his arm and urged him to eat. “I can hardly understand how you must feel.”

Taehyung put down his chopsticks and rubbed his eyes. “I don’t even know the guy and this happens. But he was so pretty. He is pretty! Oh, you should have seen him Jimin.”

Jimin snorted as he chewed on the hot chicken, steam rising from his chopsticks. “I don’t think you would like that. Plus, he isn’t really for me.”

Taehyung decided to change the subject and smirked at Jimin as he grabbed some noodles to eat. “That is left to Yoongi, huh?”

Jimin glared at his obvious change of subject, but shrugged. “He isn’t mine, Taehyung.”

“If he doesn’t find it obvious like I do-”

“I know he doesn’t because I don’t make it obvious for him to know.” Jimin sighed. “He is bisexual, so there is really a fifty-fifty chance he would be interested in me. Or any guy, I guess. I don’t know.”

Taehyung furrowed his brows. He knew what being bisexual meant, but he had never met one before. He was completely homosexual and had no interest in women. Taehyung suddenly wondered about Jungkook. He was handsome. He didn’t fit the stereotype, from what Taehyung had shamefully Googled in his time.

“Hey, uh. You know Jungkook better than I do, I guess. Is he-” Taehyung leaned forward on his elbows so their conversation was more private.

Jimin bit his bottom lip in thought. “Honestly, I’m not sure. I’ve never seen him go out with another guy. I know he has been interested in some girls before, but never anything serious. But, it’s not my place to tell his sexuality, Taehyung. That’s for him to say.”

Taehyung nodded. “Yeah, I know that.”

He furrowed his brows as he took a moment, becoming serious. “Taehyung, you should be careful.”

“What do you mean?”

“I know South Korea is incredibly strict when it comes to sexuality and what is actually okay. You need to know that, even though we are in America where it’s legal and everything, you aren’t 100% safe,” he explained. “There are people, especially in New York, that do not like what we are. They find it disgusting, you understand?”

Taehyung gulped and nodded, suddenly feeling a heat spread through his body. He felt embarrassed and he felt ashamed about what he was. He felt dirty.

Jimin must have sensed his discomfort and shook his head, coming over to sit beside him. He put his arm around Taehyung’s shoulders casually. “I don’t want you to think you need to be ashamed, Taehyung. It’s just how the world is. They are hard of accepting people that are different. It doesn’t mean you need to be ashamed of being yourself.”

He nodded and took a few breaths. Jimin was right. He was Kim Taehyung. This was him. He was a gay male and nothing could change that. He was born this way.

Jimin patted his back and grabbed their empty plates. “Come on. Let’s head back to our room.”

Taehyung followed him as he dumped out the trash. When they were outside of the restaurant and walking back to the dorms, he smiled at Jimin. “You just want to go back already so you can see Yoongi.” He said Yoongi’s name in a sing-song voice.

Jimin screamed out in frustration, but laughed with Taehyung for the next couple of blocks as they made it back to the dorm rooms. When they showed the guard their IDs, they made it to the lobby where Yoongi was sitting behind the desk.

Yoongi had bleach blonde hair that was messy and fell around his forehead effortlessly. He was wearing a black shirt and he clearly had muscles, just like Jimin had said. He had a cute little nose and a pretty nice mouth, which was currently open a bit in sleep.

Taehyung had to give Jimin credit.

His eyes were closed and he had headphones on. His feet were resting on the desk.

Neomu deowo,” moaned Jimin as he stared at Yoongi.

Taehyung grimaced. “I’m right here.”

Suddenly, Yoongi opened his eyes and looked around, waking up from his nap. He rubbed at his eyes and when they met Jimin’s, he gave him a gummy smile and lifted up a small hand. Jimin waved back and turned to Taehyung.

“I can’t do this.”

Jiokcheoreom neon hal su eopseo,” said Taehyung, pushing him towards Yoongi.

Jimin nearly collided with the desk and smiled at Yoongi. “Hey.”

“Hey, Chim.” Taehyung sidled up next to Jimin, trying to give him some sort of comfort. “Who’s this?”

He didn’t miss the look of jealousy that flashed across Yoongi’s face.

Jimin glanced at Taehyung. “This is my roommate, Taehyung.”

Yoongi suddenly smirked and put his hands behind his head. “Ah, the infamous Taehyung. Jungkook hasn’t stopped talking about you since last night.”

Taehyung blushed hard and rubbed his head profusely, completely caught off guard. Jungkook had talked about him? They only spoke for five minutes, not even. What did he have to say?

Jimin snorted again until he was suddenly laughing, tossing his head back. Taehyung glared at him and he stopped with a smile. “Sorry.”

Yoongi laughed. “It’s not my business, man.” He started to collect his things. “Look, I’ve been meaning to talk to you, Jimin.”

Jimin couldn’t hide his grin. “Me?”

He looked at Jimin and chuckled lightly. “Yeah, you.” He smirked a bit. “I wanted you to listen to the tunes that Namjoon and I have been working on. What do you say?” He smiled at Taehyung. “You can come with us. Meet the guys.”

“The guys?”

“Joon, Hoseok, Jin.” Yoongi paused with a small, teasing smile. “You’ve already met Jungkook.”

Taehyung’s eyes went wide. Alarms started going off in his head. There was no way he could face Jungkook after today. Or ever again. “Jungkook is going to be there? I-”

Jimin put an arm around his shoulders and smiled at Yoongi. Since when did he feel confident in front of Yoongi? “He’d love to go. He needs more friends other than me.”

Yoongi smiled and then turned to Jimin as he walked around from the desk. He got up close with Jimin and eyed him up and down slowly. Jimin clutched Taehyung’s shoulder a bit too tightly. “Cool. Just wait here.”

Jimin watched Yoongi leave and go into the office. Taehyung gritted his teeth and growled, getting his tight grip off of his shoulders. “Jegil! Jimin, come on.”

“Sorry,” he mumbled. He was still staring at the door.

Taehyung turned him to face him and scoffed. “Why did you do that? I can’t go see Jungkook after what happened today. I practically saw him naked.”

“Technically, you didn’t. There was a towel around his waist.” Jimin smirked. “Plus, it doesn’t mean Jungkook has to know you’re coming.”

Taehyung thought about the idea of keeping his appearance a secret and found it to be a rather appealing idea. Jungkook shocked him, so why not shock Jungkook?

Jimin smiled as Taehyung gave him a little smirk. “Fine. But, everyone wears clothes. I’ve had enough naked guys for one day.”

“I’ll tell everyone but Jungkook to wear clothes,” joked Jimin, earning him a smack on the arm from Taehyung.

Yoongi walked out of the office with a jacket and his backpack, smiling at Jimin.

Taehyung leaned toward Jimin and whispered, “You mean Yoongi?”

Jimin lifted up his leg and kicked Taehyung in the butt before they left with Yoongi.

Chapter Text

Jungkook made his way to the recording suites in the Tisch Center that evening, meeting up with the rest of the guys to listen to some of Namjoon’s new tracks and to hang out. He needed this kind of outlet after today. He couldn’t get Taehyung’s towel-clad image out of his head. He hadn’t even expected Taehyung to be in the locker rooms, but apparently God wanted to punish him for some reason unbeknown to him. Taehyung had obviously been working out because he was sweaty all over. His chest had been glistening and he had been breathing heavily. But, he wondered if it was for the same reason he had been breathing heavily. When Jungkook stared at him, he immediately felt the attraction.

He didn’t know this kid, but he wanted to know more. There was this invisible pull that Taehyung had and Jungkook wanted to keep a tight grip on it. At least for tonight, he could put his mind off of him and just hang out with his friends.

In the second suite, Jungkook noticed a red light on above the door. He could hear a few voices inside and the sound of a guitar. He knocked on the door and immediately was met with the happy face of Hoseok. He had a headband on, revealing his forehead which was probably his best feature. He was wearing a pair of comfortable, red sweats. Hoseok and Jungkook had met his freshmen year at the dorms when Hoseok first became a resident advisor.

Namjoon was behind him at the computers, typing on the keyboard and bobbing his head to the tune of the guitar before cutting it off and typing again. He turned around to look at Jungkook with his wide and plump smile. His hair was brushed back with a few strands tousled out here and there and he was wearing a pair of cargo shorts and a white shirt with a few stains on it. Just like with Jin, who was sitting on the other side of the computer facing Namjoon, Jungkook had been friends with them for quite a few years having lived in the city together for a long time. Jungkook had amazing friends and, right now, that’s all that mattered to him. It was better than being alone.

He thought about his mother and what she was doing right now. Was she drunk? Was she passed out? She was alone. He tried to see her as much as possible. He saw her for a little bit after the gym, but she wasn’t awake. The TV had been on, but not her.

“Hey, JK? You alright?” asked Hoseok, nudging his shoulder and bringing him into the room.

Jungkook smiled and nodded as he took a seat over in the corner. He swiveled around in the chair for a bit as he pulled out his phone, scrolling through social media. He was the quietest of the group and it used to be a problem. The others would try and get him to talk, especially after his father’s death. They almost believed he was going to be mute for the rest of his life, but with their friendship, Jungkook was able to get better.

Jungkook looked up for a moment and smiled at his friends. Hoseok was helping Namjoon with some of the tunes quietly as they played in the background, giving off a cool atmosphere in the room. He glanced at Jin, who was now looking at Namjoon with a sense of adoration. Jin never really talked about it, but Jungkook knew he had feelings for Namjoon. Jungkook never pushed him to open up, though. Jin had never been in a relationship before. Jungkook wasn’t sure if Namjoon felt the same, but sometimes he would catch him looking at Jin almost as if he had heart eyes. Both boys kept their personal life quiet, though.

Namjoon was too invested in his music, though. Jungkook figured this was why he never actively pursued a relationship, even with Jin, if at all.

Hoseok was straight, as far as Jungkook was aware. He had talked about previous relationships and was even pretty popular around campus. Girls referred to him as their literal sunshine, which just made him blush. But he was always smiling and being happy around campus. Sometimes, he would bring his speaker, plug in some music and dance for people on campus. He was a bright spot, for sure.

Namjoon’s phone buzzed and he picked it up. “Great! Yoongi and Jimin are on the way.”

Jungkook didn’t think anything of it until he saw Namjoon lean toward the others with his phone, grinning mischievously. “What’s so funny?”

Jin smiled at him as Namjoon put his phone up. “Nothing. Just a joke.”

Jungkook rolled his eyes. “Something I won’t get?”

“Chill out, man.” Hoseok lightly kicked his foot and laughed.

Jungkook went back to his phone and scrolled through his photo gallery, analyzing photos he had recently taken. He had uploaded the picture he took of Taehyung on to his phone and looked at it for a moment, this boy staring up at the stars. He didn’t think he had captured him that night since his camera dropped, but he did a second before. He found it hard not to stare at it since then.

There was a knock at the door and Namjoon opened it up. “Hey guys!”

Jungkook looked up to greet Yoongi and Jimin and froze in his seat. There, right next to Jimin, was Taehyung. They both looked at each other in shock. The rest of the boys excitedly talked amongst each other, leaving the other two in an awkward bubble of their own. That bubble burst when Taehyung quickly found a chair on the opposite side of the room, far away from Jungkook. They didn’t speak to each other. They didn’t even look at each other. It didn’t mean the heat wasn’t rapidly rising.

“Fuck,” muttered Jungkook, trying to resume his scrolling. However, his body had gone hot and his hands were shaking along with the rest of his body. He was nervous and it was all because of this one boy. He could feel himself sweating.

The others must have planned this. Taehyung didn’t even know Namjoon, as far as he was concerned. It must have been Yoongi, then. Yoongi would have invited Jimin for sure and, in turn, Jimin would have asked Taehyung along. Jungkook was going to kill them all either way.

As the boys talked and listened to Namjoon’s songs, Jungkook and Taehyung kept their distance. He tried hard to keep his eyes away, but it was getting even more difficult as the time passed. He finally looked up slowly and gazed over at Taehyung. He was slouched in his chair with his legs spread out in relaxation. His eyes were fixed on one spot on the floor, as if he were in deep thought.

Jungkook began to admire him. His face was entirely smooth. His hair was perfect, nothing out of place. He already knew he had a great body; definitely his type, if he was being honest. Taehyung’s gaze turned to the boys and he laughed at something they said. Jungkook gulped as he watched his mouth turn into a boxy grin with his laughter. His eyes disappeared when he laughed and, when he kept his smile, they were more present. He could look at him all day.

That is, until Taehyung’s gaze found his. Jungkook looked down and cleared his throat, trying to keep his mind on other things.

Hoseok uses his feet to wheel himself over to Jungkook, dropping his voice to a whisper. “Why aren’t you talking to him?”

Jungkook just furrows his brows. “What?”

“All you’ve done is talk about him and now you’re just being a dick and not even acknowledging him,” he explained.

Jungkook shakes his head and sighs, looking back at his phone. “Leave me alone.”

Hoseok wheels away from him and looks at the others. He glances at Taehyung and then looks over at Jin, giving him a little nod.

Jin stands up and claps his hands together, alerting the others. “Who wants some late night snacks? I think I’ll go to the corner grocery and grab us some stuff, yeah?”

Namjoon smiles and stands up, looking at Jin as he goes to the door. “I’ll go with you.”

The two of them smile at each other for a moment before leaving the room, leaving it occupied with just Hoseok, Jimin, Yoongi, Taehyung and Jungkook. Hoseok goes over to Jimin and Yoongi and talks with them for a moment. Taehyung stands up, causing Jungkook to look up from his phone.

“Where’s the bathroom?” he asked.

Yoongi points out. “Straight and to the left.”

Taehyung leaves the room, giving the boys ample opportunity to trash Jungkook.

“Dude, what is wrong with you?” asks Jimin.

Jungkook looks at them, confused. “What?”

“We invited Taehyung so he can hang out with us, not so you can just ignore him and stay on your phone all night,” explained Yoongi.

Jungkook suddenly got riled up. “Yes. You invited him. I know it was you, Yoongi. You started this by inviting Jimin and you knew Jimin would bring Taehyung along.”

Jimin blushed as he rubbed the back of his neck. Yoongi bit on his lip and kept his mouth shut.

Hoseok glared at Jungkook. “Why are you being like this?”

“I just-” Jungkook runs his fingers through his hair, feeling like he wants to rip it out. He leans over and rests his elbows on his knees. “Something may have happened today.”

“Like what?” asked Hoseok.

Jungkook noticed the way Jimin smirked, trying to hold back his laughter. He rolled his eyes. “Obviously, he knows.”

The others looked at Jimin and then at Jungkook, suddenly very curious. Jungkook shrugged at Jimin, allowing him to speak up.

Jimin laughed a bit and crossed his arms over his chest. “Jungkook and Taehyung saw each other naked in the locker room today.”

Both Hoseok and Yoongi exploded with words in both English and Korean. Jungkook waved his hands out in front of him. “No! We had our towels on around our waists!”

“Like that’s any better?!” exclaimed Hoseok, trying to hold in his laughter. He ultimately fell out of his chair in a fit of giggles.

Jungkook nodded, moving his tongue around against his cheek and bottom lip. “Great. Thanks. I’m glad you guys find this funny while I’ve been mentally torturing myself with the image of Taehyung’s body.”

“Okay, let’s stop you right there before it gets NSFW,” said Yoongi. “Why are you so riled up by that, though? You haven’t spoken to him once since we have been here.”

Jungkook shrugged, but didn’t meet their eyes. He watched Hoseok stand next to his chair with his arms crossed. “I don’t know. It’s just strange. I don’t really know him, but I want to get to know him so badly.”

Hoseok shrugged. “So get to know him, Kook. You’re not helping yourself by freezing the kid out.”

“Come on. Let’s go meet up with Namjoon and Jin,” said Jimin. All three of them walked out of the room, leaving Jungkook alone.

Until, a few minutes later, Taehyung returned. He looked around, holding the door open. He definitely looked confused as to why it was just Jungkook in the room. Jungkook gave a tiny little wave as Taehyung walked back in and sat in his chair. Jungkook knew the guys were right. He wanted to talk to Taehyung and learn everything about him. To do that, he had to make the first move.

“So…” he started, looking down at his hands as he leaned forward. He rested his elbows on his knees. “How was your day?”

His face went red and his gaze bolted up to meet Taehyung, whose entire face was flushed with embarrassment. Jungkook immediately knew how idiotic that question was. The main event of the day had been their naked bodies slick with sweat and water. Especially Taehyung’s body. His soft stomach and his smooth skin that his fingers-

Jungkook resituated himself in his chair and fixed his pants as discreetly as possible. He didn’t know what to say now. He totally screwed it up. This was such a disaster and now he was never going to get closer to Taehyung like he wanted to.

“I’m sorry.”

He definitely didn’t expect that. He furrowed his brows. “Huh?”

Taehyung moved and sat in the chair that was next to Jungkook. It was close enough where Jungkook could recognize his scent: strawberries. It was intoxicating.

“We have only seen each other a few times and it’s already so awkward and tonight cemented that awkwardness and I just-” Taehyung sighed. “This isn’t how I wanted to get to know you.”

Jungkook smiled at him. “You wanted to get to know me?”

Taehyung got sheepish and bit his lip. “I still want to.”

He nodded. “’I’m sorry, too. We can start over?” He held out his hand. “Jeon Jungkook.”

Taehyung smiled and shook his hand. “Kim Taehyung.”

They held hands for a second longer until Taehyung let go. “So, photography?”

Jungkook laughed a bit at his awkwardness still being present and he nodded. “Yeah. I love capturing moments. I actually have a project that I have been thinking about, but I can’t figure out the semantics of it all.”

“What kind of project?” asked Taehyung, genuinely interested.

“My advisor wants me to have a photo project for this opportunity in London. I can go to this prestigious school and do their summer program for three months. It would really help put together my resume for the future, you know?” he explained.

Taehyung nodded. “Yeah. That sounds amazing. I want to do something with art in the future, but I don’t know what.”

“What do you like to create? Do you paint?”

“Sometimes,” he shrugged, gazing off in front of him. “I like to use oils, but sometimes I will go with pastels or just use pencils and sketch. I just like to create what comes to mind.”

“Have you created anything lately?” asked Jungkook, nudging his shoulder.

Taehyung smirked at him and unconsciously got closer to him. “No. Not since I arrived in America.”

Jungkook glanced down at Taehyung’s hands in his lap. He wanted to hold them, but he restrained himself. “It must be hard being so far from home. Do you miss it?”

“All the time. I try and call my family, but the time difference makes it hard,” he explained. “Sometimes, I miss just talking in my own language. I’ve gotten pretty good at my English, but Korean is just so much more comforting.”

“We can speak in Korean if you want,” said Jungkook. “I know it pretty well myself.”

“Really?” asked Taehyung. He switched to Korean smoothly. “This is okay?”

Jungkook nodded and smiled, switching to Korean as well. “Of course.”

The two of them begin to talk more in Korean, learning more about each other. Jungkook learns the little things about Taehyung and vice versa and, before they knew it, the time had passed and their chairs had gotten incredibly closer. Taehyung’s legs were crossed in the chair and his knees were touching Jungkook’s legs. Surprisingly, their hands were inches apart and Jungkook could hardly stop himself from going toward Taehyung’s hands, wanting to intertwine their fingers together.

The door opened and the boys had returned. Jungkook brought his hands back and Taehyung slid the chair back a few inches, but they were still closer than before. Namjoon and Jin sat back in their seats and Yoongi sat in Taehyung’s old chair while Hoseok stood above the two with his arms crossed, looking happy.

“This is so much better,” he told them. “What did you guys talk about?”

Before one of them could answer, Namjoon’s fists came down on the counter, causing everyone to jump. He was cursing in both English and Korean as he stood up from his chair, pushing it in hard. Jin got up and went over to him.

“Namjoon, what’s wrong? What happened?” he asked calmly.

“My files are corrupted! Something happened-” He glanced over at Jungkook and Taehyung. “Did you two touch something while we were gone?”

“Joon, really?” asked Hoseok, glaring at him.

Namjoon pointed at Taehyung. “What about you, new kid? Did you mess with something because you were curious about this technology or something?”

Jungkook stood up in front of Taehyung and glared at Namjoon. “Hey! Back off, Namjoon. Taehyung didn’t touch anything and neither did I. He’s from Korea, not some deserted island. He knows what technology is, dick.”

“Of course you’d stand up for him-” Namjoon got closer to Jungkook so they were nose to nose. Jungkook pushed Namjoon’s shoulders. Suddenly, Yoongi stepped in between them and pushed them apart. Jungkook felt Taehyung’s hands on his forearm, holding him in place.

“That’s enough!” exclaimed Yoongi. He glared at Namjoon. “The computers here are shit and you know it. This has happened before, Namjoon. There’s a way to fix it, you know. We’ve done it before.”

“I have a deadline and now I’m going to have to stay up later,” Namjoon growled, running his fingers through his hair.

Jin came up behind Namjoon and put his hands on his shoulders. “Joon, come on. Maybe we should-”

Namjoon shook him off and Jin backed away, putting his hands in the air. “I don’t want to do anything with you, Jin. Just…you guys leave. I need to be by myself.”

This had happened before, but it was never as bad as right now. Namjoon would get riled up easily if ever his work was compromised. His music was incredibly important to him and getting into the music business was something he had been hoping for. He had an audition in a few weeks and this one track was his one hope.

Right now, he was going to his dark place.

Regardless of what Namjoon had said, Jin was always there at night if he ever got into one of his moods. Jin would be silent and would leave him alone, but then eventually, Namjoon would apologize and he and Jin would talk comfortably.

Jin nodded at the others and walked them out. He left the deadbolt on so the door wouldn’t shut. “I’m sorry.”

Hoseok shook his head. “No, it’s okay. Just take care of him, okay?”

The guys had a hint of how Jin and Namjoon felt about each other, but they kept the situation to themselves. They would work it out on their own time.

The guys said their goodbyes with Hoseok heading to the library to pick up a book for his class. Yoongi stood aside while Jimin went over to Taehyung and Jungkook. The two of them were hesitantly looking at each other and then glancing down at the ground.

Jimin smiled at Jungkook. “It was good to see you tonight, Kook.”

They both hugged each other and Jungkook said, “You too, Min.”

Jimin looked at Taehyung. “You want me to walk with you and Yoongi back to the dorm?”

Taehyung glanced over at Yoongi, who was shyly looking over at Jimin with his bottom lip tugged between his teeth. He looked at Jungkook, whose gaze was down and his hands in his pockets.

“Um, actually, I was thinking of walking Jungkook back to his room.” He paused when Jungkook looked up at him with a smile and a blush.

Jungkook’s heart leapt at Taehyung’s offer and he nodded while Jimin smiled at the two of them. He looked back at Yoongi, who suddenly wore a smile on his own face at the prospect of them walking back together. Alone.

“I’ll see you tomorrow, Tae.” Jimin hugged him and giddily went over to Yoongi, brushing his hand down his back as they walked back together.

Jungkook watches Jimin and Yoongi leave and then turns to Taehyung. In the dark, he looked different. The streetlights and the passing cars illuminated his soft face and cast a glow in his eyes. It was all hitting Jungkook at once. He wanted this man for his project. He wanted him to be the subject.

“You ready?” asked Taehyung, bringing him out of his reverie.

Jungkook nodded and smiled, leading the way to his room. It was quiet for a few minutes, but it was comfortable. They didn’t touch, but Jungkook could feel his body heat invading his own space and Jungkook was basking in it. He glanced over at this boy and a soft smile spread on his face. Taehyung met his gaze and it caused Jungkook’s heart to skip a beat. He consciously touched his chest.

“Are you okay?” asked Taehyung, gently touching his arm.

It was just a touch on his arm, but it felt like more. “No, I’m okay. Um, you know-” He cleared his throat. “You can still talk to me in Korean. I don’t want you to be uncomfortable.”

Taehyung switched to Korean and said, “I really appreciate that, Jungkookie. Thank you.”

He blushed at the nickname. “Don’t take offense to what Namjoon said. His music is really important to him, but he can get too worked up about it.”

“No, it’s okay,” said Taehyung.

“He’s very good at his music,” he defended. “Sometimes, it clouds his judgment. He loses focus of what’s right in front of him.”

“Like Jin?” quipped Taehyung with a smirk.

Jungkook chuckled at him. “You see it, too?”

“It’s hard not to. I caught Jin staring at him a few times and he was nearly drooling. He has it pretty bad.”

“I know the feeling.” Taehyung glanced at him with an arched eyebrow. He cleared his throat again.

All he had to do was ask him. They came up to Jungkook’s building and stopped in front of the door.

“You remember the project I told you about?”

Taehyung nodded and put his hands in front of him, fiddling with his fingers.

Jungkook let out a slow breath and smiled at him. “I-I really want you to be the subject of my project. Um, I don’t want to take advantage of the fact but you coming to school all the way from Korea and navigating the big city by yourself is just incredibly inspiring and fascinating and I want to document it all for you, but you don’t have to say yes.”

“Yes,” said Taehyung, immediately cutting off Jungkook from saying anything else that may be stupid.

Jungkook looked at him in disbelief then smiled in appreciation. “Wow, thank you. Thank you. I promise I’ll paint you in a good light. Well, I guess the painting is really your job since I have the camera.”

God, why did he have such terrible jokes?

“I don’t think you have any bad lights anyway, so they’ll all be good.”

He really needed to shut up.

Taehyung giggled, revealing his boxy smile. “You’re cute.”

Both boys blushed and Jungkook looked up at the building. He didn’t want to tell him to leave.

“Um, do you want to come up? I can show you some of my photos so you can get an idea,” he suggested, toying with his keycard.

Taehyung chewed on his lip and watched as Jungkook opened the front door, leaving it open for him. “Yeah, sure. I’ve got time.”

Jungkook led him into the building and toward the elevator. He was about to bring Taehyung to his room. His private room. This was the guy he couldn’t stop thinking about and he was going to be alone with him.

The elevator doors opened and they both got in. As Jungkook waited for the elevator doors to open on his floor, he took another look at Taehyung. He was looking down at his fingers and fidgeting. This seemed to be a habit of his. Was he nervous? What was he thinking about? Jungkook wanted to calm his nerves or to get him to stop fidgeting, but he kept his hands to himself.

This was all totally out of the blue for him. He never really invited anyone to his room. He kept to himself. He never even thought about getting into anything with anyone else. If he did, it was fleeting. Another thing: this was the first boy he had brought to his room that he actually had an attraction to. That idea made his palms sweat and, when the elevator doors opened and he grabbed his keycard from his pocket, it dropped to the ground.

Taehyung picked it up for him. “You seem nervous.”

Jungkook shrugged a couple of times. “It was just hot in that elevator. I guess.”

He quickly scurried over to his door and cursed himself for being such an idiot with word vomit. He opened the door and let Taehyung in. His room was about the same size as the other dorms. There was a window overlooking campus with nearly a clear view of Washington Square Park. His bed was perfectly made with fluffy covers and many pillows, just the way he liked it. His shelves were filled with different coffee table books of photographs, self-care, some fictional works and old childhood toys like Iron Man or Winnie the Pooh. He blushed when Taehyung paid attention to Pooh the most.

He was thankful that he wasn’t a dirty kid that kept clothes on the floor. There were a few dirty clothes in his hamper, but the clean clothes were stored away in his closet and hung up. If his room had been dirty right now, he knew that probably would have been the end for them, for anything that could have come out of their so-called relationship. Or lack thereof.

“I like your room,” said Taehyung, shooting him a smile.

The space felt a lot smaller. Jungkook walked over to his shelves and reached for a folder wedged between the end of the case and a book. The action caused his body to get closer to Taehyung’s, their chests nearly touching. He held the folder, but he didn’t step away from Taehyung. His eyes traveled over his face and, seeing him this up close was amazing. His skin was so smooth, save for one blemish and a healed scar. He had a little mole on his nose. He noticed something about his eyes. One was double-lidded and the other had a mono-lid. It just made him even more-

“Beautiful,” he whispered.

Taehyung’s throat bobbed as he gulped. “W-what?”

Jungkook cleared his throat and quickly moved away, sitting on the bed with his folder. “Uh, the pictures in this folder. I think they are pretty beautiful. I mean, that’s what my professors see.”

His hands were shaking as he fumbled with the pictures. What was happening to him? This was a guy. A boy. But, what was so wrong with that? Humans were humans. Feelings were feelings. Right now, this human was making him feel something he had never felt before.

He looked up at Taehyung, who looked awkward standing by the shelves. Jungkook knew he needed to get a grip of himself. He didn’t want to scare Taehyung and be weird and turn him off. He sighed softly and patted the space next to him. “Come sit with me.”

Taehyung smiled and slowly sat down next to him. The bed dipped and Jungkook could feel their hips touching. He didn’t expect him to sit so close, but he really didn’t mind. It felt comforting.

He brought out some of his scenery pictures and showed Taehyung, who flipped through them carefully. “I like to take photos like this. I can just go to any random place I want to and I almost always find something…appealing.”

“They are really good.” Taehyung let out a sound of appreciation as he looked closely at one that depicted a snowy street at night. There was a blur of a person walking past the shot. “This one is stunning. It has a calming sense to it.”

“That’s probably my favorite,” said Jungkook. He flipped through a couple more until he found one that really touched his heart and caused an ache in his chest. It was a photo of his father and his mother together, just a few months before he had passed away. It was a candid shot of the two of them in the living room, before it had been littered with liquor bottles and junk. They were sitting on the couch watching television. His mother was laughing at something on the television, pure joy in her face. His father was watching her with a tranquil smile and his arm resting around her shoulders. He had caught it by chance, but it was his favorite.

“Who is that?” asked Taehyung.

Jungkook let him hold the photo, pleased that he handled it gently. “It’s my parents. They were so in love.”

Taehyung glanced at him curiously. “Were?”

“My father had cancer. He passed away over a year ago. I think that’s the last time my mother genuinely smiled.” He paused and wet his lips. “She, um, really hasn’t been the same since.”

Taehyung handed him the photo back. “You don’t have to tell me everything, Jungkook. I can see it’s a sensitive subject for you.”

He was right. Jungkook wasn’t ready to talk about his home life yet. It was too heavy of a subject and he didn’t want Taehyung to have that kind of information on his shoulders so fast. He would tell him when they knew each other more, but not right now.

Jungkook smiled and put his photos back in his folder. “Thanks, Tae.”

Taehyung smiled and lounged back on his elbows. “Jungkook, you’re really talented. I love your passion.”

Jungkook copied his position and lounged back on his elbows, keeping his eyes on Taehyung. He blushed at the compliment. “Really?”

“Yes. I would be honored to be your subject,” he told him.

He smiled and looked at his fingers, trying hard not to stare at Taehyung’s body looking so comfortable on his bed. It was incredibly attractive. He glanced down at Taehyung’s hand, inches from his own. He took a chance and moved his fingers over to Taehyung’s, gently brushing them over his fingers.

The two boys looked up at each other and Jungkook could feel a pull towards him. He just wanted to try. He wanted to know what it felt like. It was just the two of them. Nobody was going to come into the room and interrupt them.

“Taehyung,” he whispered, glancing between his eyes and his lips. “Can I-”

Suddenly, there was a sound. They sat up and Jungkook scooted away from Taehyung, giving him space as he looked down at his phone. Taehyung stood up as he put his phone away. He looked at Jungkook apologetically.

“I’m sorry. That was Jimin. They are doing some kind of head count?” Taehyung seemed confused on what it was.

Jungkook nodded, still sitting on the bed. “Yeah. They do that every semester to make sure people are in their rooms.”

Taehyung nodded. “Good to know.”

They were both quiet and it was suddenly awkward again. Jungkook was pretty sure that Taehyung had an idea what Jungkook was going to ask him. That made it even worse and Jungkook was pretty sure that he had ruined any chance he might have had.

“I’ll see you later,” said Taehyung before quickly leaving the room.

Jungkook was alone. He collapsed on the bed and groaned out loud, cursing the entire day. There was no more Taehyung for him and no subject for his project. Goodbye London and goodbye Taehyung.

Chapter Text

Taehyung entered his building and walked over to the elevator, noticing the girl at the desk was busy eating some cheap ramen and watching something on her phone. He pressed the button to go up and waited. He quickly put his hand to his chest, feeling his heart. 

Yep. It was still beating fast. 

What had happened back there? If he didn't know any better, it had seemed like Jungkook had wanted to kiss him. Touching his hand, finally, was nice. His fingers were soft and...long. Definitely long. He got inviting chills at the thought, but shook it off. Jungkook had clearly leaned toward him and maybe Taehyung had wanted him to? But, they hardly knew each other. Then again, they talked a lot tonight. Taehyung knew more than he did yesterday, that's for sure. 

The elevator doors finally opened and he got in, pressing the number three. He kept replaying the moment over and over in his head. What would have happened if Jimin hadn't have contacted him? What if there was no head count tonight? Truth be told, Taehyung was attracted to Jungkook. If the locker room was any indication, he found Jungkook to be, to put it bluntly, hot. His abs were perfectly sculpted and, when Jungkook's fingertips grazed his skin-

The elevator doors opened with a ding! and Taehyung gasped. Thankfully, he was only a little bit aroused but it wasn't noticeable. He quickly walked over to his door, opened it, slammed it shut behind him and leaned against it. 

"Uh, Tae?" Taehyung's eyes flew open as he looked at Jimin, who was currently in bed in his pajamas with his laptop. "Everything okay? You don't have to worry. They haven't gotten to our room yet."

"Jungkook almost kissed me," he blurted, exhaling loudly. 

Jimin closed his laptop with wide eyes and set it aside. "Wow. That's something. Why almost?"

Taehyung gave him a pointed look. "Someone texted me."

Jimin understood what he meant and blushed, wincing. "I'm sorry. You should have told me!"

"How was I going to tell you that?" asked Taehyung, sighing and going to sit on his bed. He laid down and stared up at the ceiling. "I don't know him, Jimin."

"You got to know him more tonight. Plus, things happen for a reason." Jimin shrugged. "What did you do after I texted you?"

"I kind of-" Taehyung paused for a moment and covered his eyes. "Ran out."

Jimin rolled his eyes and went over to Taehyung's bed. He patted his leg and made him sit up so he could look at him. "Is this the first guy you've ever been attracted to?"

"No. But, it is the first guy I've ever gotten close to." He sighed. "Back home, I couldn't be open about my sexuality. If I liked a guy, I did it from a distance. I couldn't act on it because I was so afraid that something bad would happen. I've heard stories about people getting beat up for being gay or being put in jail. I don't know."

"Damn, Tae." Jimin rubbed his back. "I didn't realize it was that bad over there. I don't really do a good job of keeping up with my own culture."

Taehyung shrugged. "I won't judge you for it."

It was quiet for a moment until there was a knock at the door. Hoseok peeked his head in with his wide smile. "Head count, freshmen."

Jimin glared at him. "Don't be a dick."

Hoseok noticed the uneasy atmosphere and shut the door behind him, sitting down in the desk chair. "What's wrong?"

"Don't you need to finish the head count?" asked Taehyung.

Hoseok waved his hand in the air nonchalantly. "Nah, Tammy can finish it. Now what happened?"

Taehyung sighed. "Jungkook almost kissed me tonight."

"What?!" exclaimed Hoseok, his eyes going wide. He suddenly smiled and Taehyung noticed that he could light up a room with it alone. "That's great that things worked out! So, why didn't it happen?"

Taehyung just glanced at Jimin coldly and Hoseok glared. Jimin rolled his eyes and groaned. "I didn't know!"

"Look, I don't think it's going to happen again. I pretty much ruined it by running away. He probably thinks I'm a freak or that I don't really like him," said Taehyung, lying back down and staring at the ceiling.

He was doomed to be forever alone in the big city.

"Look, you can't think like that. I watched Jungkook tonight and he definitely has a thing for you. He couldn't stop looking at you," explained Hoseok. 

The thought of Jungkook being attracted to Taehyung gave him some hope. He trusted Hoseok and if he said Jungkook was watching him, then it was probably true. Which meant, he still had a chance.

"Let's talk about something else, though." Hoseok looked at Jimin with a sly smile. "Jimin, what's up with you and Yoongi?"

Jimin smiled sheepishly and looked down. "Well, we walked back here and I thought he was just going to walk me to my door."

"You didn't."

"We didn't do anything!" exclaimed Jimin. He glanced at his bed. "We might have kissed."

Taehyung sat up and, with Hoseok, shouted out in amazement. 

"And touched?" Jimin covered his face in embarrassment as the guys shouted different words of encouragement and praise. 

"How come everyone is getting some except for me?" asked Hoseok, sitting back in the chair and crossing his arms across his chest.

 

Taehyung thanked the Starbucks cashier as he gathered his hot tea cup and a muffin the next morning. He went over to the spice table and added some cinnamon and stirred it before grabbing some napkins. He had a bit of time before class so he wanted to take the time to enjoy his breakfast. He sat down in a corner booth and took a sip of his tea, smiling with content. 

After talking with Hoseok and Jimin last night, he felt better about his situation with Jungkook, if he could even call it that. He still wanted to get to know him more and, being the subject of his project was the perfect opportunity to spend more time with him. He wasn't going to lie. He was nervous about being his subject. He had never been a part of something like this before. He trusted Jungkook, though. Right?

"Taehyung?" He looked up to see Jungkook. He looked so cute today. He was wearing a bucket hat that gave a slight peek of his eyes, a pair of cargo shorts and a white shirt. His backpack was kind of bulky, which made Taehyung giggle on the inside. 

"Hey!" He smiled at him. 

"I was hoping I'd see you today," said Jungkook. He gestured to the booth and switched to Korean. "May I?"

Taehyung smiled at the familiar language and nodded. He had to take off his big backpack but, when he slid into the booth, he had to hold his breath at how close he got. Their knees touched, but he didn't move his leg. Taehyung turned to face him and suddenly felt very bold. His hand rested on the top of the booth, quite close to Jungkook's shoulder.

"I wanted to apologize for running out last night," said Taehyung, picking at a loose string on the booth. "I know I acted weird and I just-"

Jungkook stopped him. "No, stop. It's my fault." He sighed. "I admit that I was going to kiss you, but that was totally crossing the line. I mean, we are getting to know each other so I guess we are friends or something. I know we kind of held hands and that was nice-"

"It was nice!" he exclaimed. "I wanted to hold your hand all night and I didn't know how to. We got so much closer in the studio and now I just made things awkward again."

Suddenly, Jungkook took Taehyung's hand from the top of the booth and held it in his lap, intertwining their fingers together. He smiled at him. "No you didn't. I definitely agree that we should stop apologizing so much, but it's not awkward. If anything, I'm even more attracted to you."

Taehyung blushed and looked down at their hands. His body heat was rising. He could feel it. "Y-you're...attracted to me?"

"Of course." Jungkook squeezed his hand, causing him to look up at him. 

They were both incredibly closer now in the booth. It was just like last night. It was a comfortable silence, but there was so much tension in that little space. Taehyung knew they were thinking the same thing. He watched Jungkook's tongue dart out to wet his lips and all Taehyung wanted to do was push him into that booth and kiss his brains out. 

But he couldn't. He sat back in the booth, but kept his hand with Jungkook's. "Not yet," he murmured.

Jungkook smiled and nodded. "No, I agree. Whatever is going on, we will just take it slow." He sucked in a breath and looked up. "Painfully slow."

Taehyung laughed at his joking tone, making Jungkook laugh. He looked down at his own tea cup and then back at Jungkook. "Can I get you something to drink?"

"I was actually going to ask if I can walk you to your class."

Taehyung felt his heart jump at the simple request. "That'd be great. I mean, I have a bit of time before class starts so we can hang out here."

Jungkook smiled and nodded. "That'd be great. I can get my coffee, though."

Taehyung watched him order his coffee, took in a deep breath and then exhaled slowly. He was trying to slow down his heart, but it wasn't really working. This boy was doing something to him. This man was transforming him into someone he had always wanted to be. In America, he was feeling more free to be the gay man that he was. There was no worry of having to go to jail or being cast out by everyone. 

Jungkook, as he waited for his order at the counter, looked over at Taehyung and smiled. He smiled back and looked down. There was one thing that was missing from this equation. Sure, they held hands and Jungkook had nearly kissed him twice now. But, what was his sexuality? Taehyung was still in the dark about it. What if he really wasn't gay and he was just confused? Or maybe he was just really, really, really nice to him and just affectionate? But, that didn't make sense. 

"Hey, are you okay?" asked Jungkook, breaking him out of his thoughts.

Taehyung noticed he had sat back down next to him with his coffee. How long had he been at war with his thoughts? Should he ask him? Would it be rude?

"I just-"

Jungkook smirked a bit as he blew on his drink to cool it down. "Your mind is reeling. What's going on? You can tell me anything."

"Anything?"

He just nodded and put his free hand back to Taehyung's, gently stroking his thumb back and forth over his skin. Taehyung looked down and nodded. He could trust him. 

"Well, I'm just wondering...with everything going on...holding hands...the almost kiss...I'm completely gay...obviously." He gulped. Was it hotter in here? "...are you..."

Jungkook laughed a bit. He suddenly felt a hand on his cheek and he was looking back up into his brown eyes, the eyes that seemed to hold the entire galaxy. Jungkook ran his fingers lightly through Taehyung's hair before bringing them back down to softly stroke his cheek. 

"Yes. I'm gay. Well, I guess bisexual, but I'm more attracted to men. Especially men with boxy smiles and a taste for morning tea," he told him in a teasing manner.

He was attracted to him. Jungkook was attracted to him

"I don't know what it is about you, Tae. You bring out this...boldness I never thought I had." Jungkook looked down as he played with Taehyung's fingers. "I never really put myself out there, not even with my friends. Since my father...it's just hard to enjoy life."

"I can't imagine how difficult it must be for you," said Taehyung.

"I don't want you to imagine. But I appreciate you understanding. I never open up to people, but with you, it's easy." He intertwined their hands again and smiled at him. "Can I take you to lunch today?"

Taehyung furrowed his brows. "I think I have class at 11 until about 1."

Jungkook just shrugged. "It's okay. I'll wait for you. We can make it a late lunch. Is that your last class today?" He nodded and Jungkook grinned. "Great! I'll meet you outside of your dorm building so you don't have to bring your backpack and everything."

"Speaking of which, why do you have such chunky backpack?" laughed Taehyung, kicking the backpack lightly on the floor.

"Hey, that's got equipment in there," chuckled Jungkook, poking Taehyung's side. "Not counting some banana milk."

"Banana milk? Won't it spoil?" Could he get any cuter?

Jungkook shook his head and proudly said, "I have it in an insulated lunchbox."

After a few minutes of laughing and talking, Taehyung had to get to class. They grabbed their drinks and bags and headed to go to class for the day. They stopped when they spotted Namjoon and Jin walking toward the Starbucks.

"Joon, Jin!" Jungkook smiled and waved. 

They smiled and walked up to them. Namjoon cleared his throat and looked at Taehyung. "Tae, I'm really sorry about last night. I didn't mean anything that I said, I swear. I just get really critical of my work and the process really stresses me out and I shouldn't have taken out my anger on you."

Taehyung smiled at his new friend. "I don't blame you, Namjoon. It's okay. We're still friends."

Namjoon bowed his head a bit and then hugged Taehyung in thanks. He pulled back and looked at both him and Jungkook. "So what are you guys up to?"

"I'm just walking Taehyung to his class," said Jungkook. Taehyung noticed Jungkook looking curiously between Jin and Namjoon. "What about you guys?"

"I offered to get Namjoon some coffee to calm his nerves, though the caffeine might not be the best thing," said Jin. 

Taehyung didn't miss the little smile Jin shot Namjoon when he wasn't looking. 

"We won't keep you, but we should all get together this weekend. I hear one of the fraternities is throwing a party, so it'd be nice to just let go," suggested Namjoon.

Jungkook nodded. "Sounds good."

They said their goodbyes and, when Namjoon and Jin left, Taehyung looked back at them for a moment. When Jin was ordering his drink, Namjoon was looking at him up and down before settling on his face with a sort of adoration. Taehyung looked back at Jungkook who had a knowing look on his face. 

"Do they even realize their feelings for each other?" asked Taehyung, walking outside with Jungkook.

Jungkook laughed a bit as they headed toward Taehyung's class. "I mean, I think Namjoon knows he likes Jin and vice versa but they don't realize they both have feelings for each other, you know? Sometimes, we just want to get them together or scheme."

"Like they did to us last night?" said Taehyung, shaking his head as they went into the building. 

Jungkook stopped in front of Taehyung's class and lowered his voice. "Tae, I know last night started out as a mess but I'm grateful that the guys did that."

Taehyung allowed him to hold his hands, placing them on his chest. He chewed on his bottom lip as Jungkook chose his next words carefully. "I really like you, Tae. I don't know. Ever since I first saw you during orientation with Jimin, I just can't stop thinking about you. I know that might be pushing things, but I don't want to lie to you."

Taehyung looked down at his feet and noticed out of the corner of his eye that the classroom was starting to fill up. Jungkook had put it out there. He liked him. Taehyung liked him. Whatever was going on, they were moving forward with it.

"I-I should get to class," said Taehyung.

Jungkook stroked his hand one more time before letting go and smiled at him, slowly backing away. "Yeah, sure. I'll see you later."

Taehyung watched him leave, wondering if he would turn to look at him one more time.

He did.

 

He was freaking out. He was truly freaking out. This was a total disaster.

Taehyung ran down the third floor hall to his room and opened the door, finding Jimin at his desk doing some homework. Jimin looked at him, confused. "Are you okay?"

"I don't have anything to wear," said Taehyung. He dropped his backpack on the bed and went through his clothes, pulling out a few shirts and pants. 

"You're wearing clothes right now?" Jimin was clueless.

"No, no. I'm seeing Jungkook for a late lunch and I can't wear this. I've been wearing it all day so I smell, he has already seen these clothes and I think this is a date, but he never said it was a date so maybe it's not a date and I-" 

Jimin grabbed Taehyung's shoulders and lightly shook him back and forth. "Kim Taehyung, you are going insane!"

"Why are you trying to kill Tae?" Both boys looked over to see Yoongi and Hoseok standing outside in the hall, watching the scene before them.

Jimin let go of Taehyung and smiled at Yoongi, instinctively going over to him and giving him a hug. Taehyung barely paid attention to the new form of contact as he went back to his clothes. He wanted to keep Jungkook's attention. A new set of clothes would do that, right?

"Jungkook is taking Taehyung out to lunch," said Jimin.

Hoseok smiled. "Oh! So, you finally have your first date?"

"Well, he never said it was a date," said Jimin.

"So, it's not a date?" asked Yoongi, furrowing his brows. He watched as Jimin sat down on his bed. He went over and sat behind him, automatically rubbing his back. Jimin smiled at the sensation.

"God, that feels good," he muttered.

"Okay, can you guys watch your boundaries? Our friend is having a crisis," said Hoseok, glaring at them.

Taehyung held up a black button up in front of his chest. "I'm not having a crisis. I'm just...having a crisis?"

Hoseok laughed a bit. "Look, don't freak out. You guys have total chemistry when you are together. Nothing is going to change Jungkook's mind about you."

"Yeah and it doesn't sound like it's a date, so I wouldn't worry about that aspect." Yoongi kept rubbing Jimin's back underneath his shirt.

"You think?" asked Taehyung. He guessed he didn't smell too bad. He could always put on more deodorant. His clothes weren't too bad, either.

"Definitely. Just be yourself," said Hoseok.

Taehyung's phone beeped and he looked down to see a text message from Jungkook, letting him know he was on his way. He sighed loudly. "Alright, I have to go."

"I expect details tonight," said Jimin, pointing at him.

"Just don't make out on my bed," said Taehyung, throwing on more deodorant before heading out. 

When he made it outside the building, he arrived at the same time Jungkook was walking up the sidewalk. They both smiled at each other. Jungkook grinned and hugged Taehyung tightly, making his entire body warm. Taehyung held him tight, making a note that he smelled good. 

"Hey, you ready to go?" asked Jungkook.

Taehyung nodded and smiled as they started walking down the sidewalk. He switched back to Korean. "When did you want to start your project?"

Jungkook shrugged. "I can start whenever you want to start."

"It's your project!"

"I know," he laughed. "I don't know where I want to start, though. Nothing has really caught my eye." He paused and nudged Taehyung with his shoulder. "Well, except for the handsome subject."

Taehyung blushed and rolled his eyes. "Are you ever going to not compliment me?"

"Mhm, probably not." Jungkook laughed and Taehyung watched as his smile grew and exposed his bunny teeth. It was incredibly adorable and he just wanted to capture it.

In fact...

 

 

* * * * * * * * * THE FOLLOWING SCENE INVOLVES RACIAL SLURS. IF YOU ARE NOT COMFORTABLE READING IT, PLEASE SKIP TO THE NEXT SET OF SYMBOLS * * * * * * * * *

 

 

He took out his phone as they stopped at a crosswalk. Taehyung pointed it at Jungkook, who immediately covered his eyes and complained. "Hey, no! I need a picture of your bunny smile!"

Jungkook laughed at the compliment as Taehyung snapped the photo. "Just because I take pictures doesn't mean I like to be in them."

Taehyung looked at the photo. Jungkook's hand was still covering his eyes, but he was smiling so brightly as the sun shone down on him, making him look like a complete angel. He set the photo as his lock screen wallpaper and showed Jungkook rather sheepishly. "Is this okay?"

"You want me as your lock screen?" He smiled at Taehyung. Nobody else existed around them. It was just Jungkook and Taehyung.

The crosswalk changed and people began to walk past them, completely ignoring them. Jungkook returned to reality and watched as the crosswalk timer started. 

"We should get going," he said. "I did have a few ideas for the project, though. Maybe somewhere at the park?"

Taehyung walked across with him as he said, "That sounds nice! We could maybe go to Washington Square Park or I think I saw one when I was in the taxi-"

Suddenly, Taehyung's body collided with another. He stumbled a bit and looked up at an older American man with a bald head and broad shoulders. He had a brown paper bag in his hand with an open top and a cigarette in his mouth. 

Taehyung bowed his head a bit and quickly apologized.

Instead of walking away, the man grabbed his shirt with his free hand, splashing a bit of his drink on Taehyung's shirt as he stumbled. "You DAK! This is America. Learn to speak English, you dirty gook!"

The man pushed Taehyung backward. He stumbled to the ground as an oncoming taxi screeched to a halt, honking loudly at the disruption. Taehyung covered his face, anticipating the man's fists or feet but they never came. He looked up to see Jungkook pushing the man away and threatening him. The man just glared at him and walked off, drinking from the paper bag. Jungkook quickly went over to Taehyung and helped him up, waving at the taxi as they walked across the street. Strangers stared but minded their own business as if nothing really even happened.

 

 

* * * * * * * * * END SCENE * * * * * * * * *

 

 

Taehyung was shaking as Jungkook held him. What had just happened? Why did that man call him those names? He knew there was a cultural difference between different races and countries, but he never expected it to be like this in America. Where did that man even learn those words? Why didn't he expect this to happen? Should he have researched more about hate crimes or how Americans treated people that didn't look like them?

"Tae. Tae, talk to me," said Jungkook.

He looked around. Jungkook had taken them into an alley for privacy and was rubbing his arms up and down. He didn't know what to do or say. He just looked down, unable to look Jungkook in the eye. It was embarrassing and traumatizing. It felt like a bullet had hit him in the stomach. He felt...

"Am I dirty?" he whispered. His lip trembled as he felt the tears pool in his eyes. ""Am I...all those things he said...a goo-"

Jungkook stopped him. "No. Don't say that. Don't repeat those words. There is nothing wrong with you. There is nothing wrong with us."

Jungkook brought him closer and held him as Taehyung cried on his shoulder. His hands rubbed his back as he made soothing noises, trying to calm him down. "He is the one that has the problem, Tae. Not you. Your culture is beautiful. We are beautiful. No matter what anyone may tell you about your race or your sexuality or your attitude, you are beautiful."

He had to believe him. Jungkook wouldn't lie to him. He looked at him and nodded as he took a few breaths to calm down. Jungkook held his face and wiped at his tears before placing a gentle kiss on his forehead. It was hardly a touch, but he felt it down to his toes. He felt better because of this man.

"Is our day ruined?" he asked him quietly.

Jungkook smiled reassuringly and shook his head. "No. In fact, I know exactly where we should go."

 

 

Chapter Text

Jungkook could see that Taehyung was still shaken up. Truth be told, he was pissed. He had never expected something like to happen in his life and especially to someone he cared about. When he saw that guy grab Taehyung and push him, everything happened in slow motion. He watched Taehyung drop to the ground and cower in fear. It didn't take Jungkook a second to think about it. His anger had taken over. He would have killed the man, but he needed to think about Taehyung. Taehyung needed him.

Jungkook had underlying anger. Maybe it was because the universe had taken away his father with the worst disease possible. Maybe it was because his mother had lost the love of her life or maybe it was because his mother was no longer his mother and he had no idea how to fix it. He kept his anger down by focusing on his photography, hanging out with his friends and, now, focusing on his growing bond with Taehyung.

In that alley, as he held Taehyung, he knew he just wanted to protect him. Here was a boy that had never been to America, never been to New York City. Yes, America was different and more free than South Korea, but it wasn't one hundred percent good. That man proved it. There were judgmental people, people that wanted to harm other people. Jungkook had lived in New York City long enough that he had seen violent acts. He had seen someone spit on someone else that wasn't like them. He had been in a part of town to go home and then, ten minutes later, heard about a gun being pulled out on the news. Taehyung had his friends, but he was the one that wanted to protect him from that evil.

Jungkook didn't hold his hand, but he kept a hand on the small of his back. He was quiet, but Jungkook scratched his back lightly just to let him know it was okay. They came to a set of stairs that had different colored circles and said "8th Street Station". Jungkook led him down the stairs and used his Metro to lead them through a tunnel. They were underground and, luckily, there weren't many people waiting for the subway. He checked the subway app on his phone real quick. They had a few minutes.

"Where are we?" asked Taehyung.

Jungkook watched him look around. "We need to take the subway to where I want to take you. It should be here any minute."

He didn't know what else to do. He noticed Taehyung had gotten away from him a few feet, so he took a gentle hold of his elbow and brought him closer. Taehyung just looked over at him and his eyes told him thank you. 

When the subway arrived, they both got on and found two empty spots. The rest of the car wasn't too full, but there were plenty of people that could make someone feel anxious. Right now, as the subway continued on, he could tell Taehyung was anxious. He kept looking at the people around him, but if someone looked toward him, he refused eye contact. He was afraid something else would happen and someone would come for him.

Jungkook nudged his knee against his. "Hey, don't be scared."

"I'm not. I'm just...cautious," said Taehyung.

Jungkook looked around for a moment. There was an old lady sitting in the corner with her large bag, probably full of knitting needles, bread or her pet cat. He had seen it before. There were some younger girls standing and holding on to the poles, laughing while looking at their phones. On the other side of the car were businessmen, women going or coming from the gym and other college kids. Someone had a boombox and, through the doors that led to the connecting car, a few people were performing a dance while someone filmed them. 

"This city is big. It's scary as shit." He paused and put his hand on Taehyung's thigh, causing their eyes to meet. "Not everyone is like that guy, though."

"I just don't understand. How can one person be so evil? How can someone's heart be that dark?" 

Jungkook just shrugged and sighed, keeping his hand on his thigh. "The way I see it, for every evil person, there is five times more good out there."

They stayed in a comfortable silence for the next several stops until their car arrived. Jungkook walked with Taehyung up the stairs and out of the underground to 34th street. He led them down a few blocks until they arrived at a section of the city that looked very familiar. The buildings were nearly the same size, but they were all different: hotels, homes, restaurants, shops. It was perfect for Taehyung right now. He looked over at his reaction and he looked to be in awe.

"Oh my God," he whispered.

He would love nothing more than to explore Koreatown with Taehyung, but right now, he was eager to bring him back home, if at all possible. He passed a few storefronts before finally arriving to the one restaurant that he felt would be pure for him. 

"This is Yoon Haeundae Galbi," said Jungkook, spreading out his arms. "Their first opening was in Busan. This is probably the most authentic homestyle Korean food in the city, as far as I know. I haven't explored too much, but I love coming here when I can."

Taehyung smiled his boxy grin, causing Jungkook to smile knowing he had put it there. He inhaled deeply and closed his eyes blissfully. "This is amazing."

Jungkook led him to a table against a wall. The table had a spot in the middle for food to stay fresh and hot. They sat across from each other and, when the waiter arrived, he and Taehyung engaged in conversation about being far from home, as they were both from South Korea. Jungkook enjoyed the delight on his face and it was hard to believe that he been terrified earlier. This was the Taehyung he loved to see. This was the Taehyung that made his heart jump. 

They order water and took a look at the menu. Taehyung's eyebrows shot up. "Jungkook, this food is really expensive."

Jungkook shook his head. "Don't worry about it, Tae. Get whatever you want. And whatever you don't get, we'll come back another day for it."

"Another day?" Taehyung smiled.

Jungkook just blushed and looked back at his menu. The waiter brought them their water and they both decided to order: Busan Neighborhood Pancake to share, two potato noodles, Kimchi Fried Rice for Taehyung and Busan Style Cold Noodle for Jungkook's spicy appetite. 

"You sure have an appetite," said Taehyung when the waiter walked away. He smiled at Jungkook.

Jungkook laughed. "I have a bottomless stomach. I love to eat. I like spicy food too, even though my esophagus begs me to give it up. I sweat every time."

Taehyung laughed. "No, I like to eat. My mom would always cook a lot and I would devour it all. There were never any leftovers."

He noticed how Taehyung's mood changed when he mentioned his mom. "Tell me what you're thinking."

He just shrugged and looked around. "Being here, it just makes me miss home. It feels surreal that I was with my parents last week. It's like it was another world."

Taehyung took a moment before speaking again, staring directly at Jungkook. He nudged his foot underneath the table and Jungkook had to gulp. "I want to thank you."

"For what?" asked Jungkook, returning the nudge to Taehyung's foot. It made him chuckle as they kept playing footsies. 

"You became my friend so quickly and, with the direction it's going, I don't know. It just feels really nice to have someone," he explained.

Jungkook watched Taehyung for a moment as he looked down at the table. Their feet were still knocking together until Jungkook reached his hand underneath the table, searching for Taehyung's hand. As if knowing what he wanted, Taehyung found his hand and held it.

"I don't know what it is about you, Tae. We shouldn't even know each other this much already, but we do. I love learning everything I can about you. The more I spend time with you, the stronger the connection feels," he explained.

"Jungkook," he whispered, his face flushing for a moment.

Their fingers played together.

"I know I asked you to be a part of my project, but when it's over..." He just shook his head, trying to get the words out. "I can't leave you alone."

Taehyung squeezed his hand and leaned forward a bit. His eyes gazed into Jungkook's and it nearly took his breath away. It was intense, like in the locker room. But this felt like a different kind of intensity. It wasn't sexual. There was no physical arousal. It was filled with passion and confidence.

"Then don't," he told Jungkook.

They talked for a few more minutes until the food finally came in record time. The meat was kept sizzling in the middle of the table as the noodles, vegetables and rice were placed around it. They were both handed chopsticks. Jungkook looked at Taehyung's face marveling at the abundance of food. Steam was surrounding them and it was a beautiful sight.

Jungkook knew this was it. "Wait, wait." He got out his phone and opened up the camera app. He captured Taehyung's amazement at the food, steam surrounding his face. His eyes were wide with delight, too. All the food was captured with his face. Without warning, Taehyung grabbed some meat and mixed it in with the rice and noodles, not wanting to leave anything out. He stuffed it all in his face and closed his eyes and moaned. Jungkook noticed how he ate with a pout. He quickly took a photo of the moment and set it as his wallpaper, putting his phone away in respect.

Taehyung was still eating and savoring the meal, so Jungkook took some meat and ate his spicy noodles. The taste burned his tongue, but it was so satisfying and delicious. The more spicy food he ate, the more he started to sweat. He didn't care, though. What he cared about was how happy Taehyung looked right now. He had made him that happy. Jungkook felt proud, he wasn't going to lie. 

He wiped his mouth as Taehyung took a bite of the egg with the rice. "What do you think?"

Taehyung smiled at Jungkook and closed his eyes again as he ate. He was quiet for a moment. "Right now, it feels like I'm back home."

 

Friday had finally arrived. The first week of classes were done and everyone was ready to let loose, excited for the first fraternity party that night. Students were eager to drink their inhibitions away, both legally and illegally, and just party with their friends and kiss someone new that they wouldn't remember next Monday.

Jungkook and Taehyung had been spending plenty of time together the past few days. After taking him out to eat, Jungkook had taken him back to his room to show him more of his photos while talking more about the project and where he wanted to take it. He had decided to use the photos he took of him at the restaurant for the project and, surprisingly, Taehyung had no problem with that. He didn't even have a problem with Jungkook using it as his phone background. After all, Taehyung had done the same thing with Jungkook's picture.

It was strange to feel so close to someone in such a short amount of time. But, they were. The more time they spent together, the more they learned about each other. They had even started texting each other when they weren't together. Sometimes, it made the days easier on Jungkook when he had to deal with his mother or when he was alone in his room. He didn't like being alone, he'll admit it. But, when he was talking to Taehyung at night in bed, waiting for that familiar ding, he didn't feel alone. It was almost like he was right there. 

Jungkook liked learning new things about Taehyung. He had a mole on his arm and, if you pinched the skin in between, it looked like an elephant. He was born in Daegu, but had spent a lot of time in Seoul and Busan with friends and family. He was fluent in Japanese. He liked to create his own art, especially with clothing. He had told Jungkook about painting on the back of jackets sometimes and, when he showed him photos, Jungkook was very impressed with the detail and style. 

He told Taehyung more about him, too. For instance, they had matching elephant moles, which they couldn't stop laughing about. Jungkook liked to create song covers when he had the time, but it had been a while since he had been inspired. He gets the sniffles easily. He likes things to be organized and clean. He had always wanted a tattoo, but was nervous about the needles. 

Jungkook didn't know if there was a limit to how much you could know about one person, but he found his time with Taehyung to be limitless.

He returned his focus to the suds in his hands as he washed a bowl in his mother's sink. It was the last dirty plate. The kitchen was sparkling again, at least for the next day or so. The bathroom was scrubbed and the living room was decluttered. Today, it seemed that there were double the amount of airplane bottles on the floor and he was concerned. How was his mother getting more? Was she actually going out to get her liquor or was she having the other woman go out for her? He didn't know what was going on anymore and he was getting worried.

How much more could he take? How much more could she take before it all came crashing down?

Jungkook wiped his hands dry and walked out to the living room. He grabbed his things and just looked at her. She was asleep on the couch, looking hungover and wasted away. He needed to do something, an intervention. But he had nobody else to help him with her. He was alone in this. 

"I don't think you understand how much I need you," he said under his breath. 

She didn't stir, but he couldn't stop the words from coming out.

"Dad wouldn't want to see you like this. I can't turn back time, but I can make sure the future doesn't turn out so bleak," he said, his voice catching. "I can't keep coming over here just to clean and make sure you still have a pulse. What if I come here and find out you're gone and dead somewhere in the street? What's going to happen to me?"

Jungkook shook his head and headed for the front door. He stopped when he heard a slight groan. His hand was on the doorknob. He turned his head to see his mother stirring from her sleep. She was struggling to sit up. 

"Don't go," she whispered, her voice groggy and thick. 

He wasn't sure if she was even awake or if she was just having a dream. Did she even know he was there? What if she thought he was his father?

"Things need to change, umma. You need to get your life together because I don't know how much more of this I can take on my own," said Jungkook.

He was about to go to her until he watched her turn over and fall back asleep, almost as if she hadn't have even heard him. Feeling defeated, he left. 

 

Later that evening, the campus was quiet. However, if you took a few turns down the corner, you'd be met with a crowd of students standing outside of an old building with plenty of floors and plenty of booze. There was a keg hidden in the shadows on the porch, red cups lined up on the railing and students starting the night with drinking games and laughter. Jungkook was eager to calm his nerves with some liquor. He and Taehyung had decided to meet at the party, but Jungkook was nervous for him. He wasn't sure if this was Taheyung's first alcoholic party, so he wasn't sure how he was going to handle it. Plus, was this considered a date? It was a different environment. They were going out at night with their friends, it was the weekend, they had no class in the morning. It was a different setting. 

Jungkook looked down at his clothes, hoping he looked alright. He was wearing ripped, cuffed jeans with white tennis shoes, a black t-shirt tucked in with a matching belt and a light tan button up that was freely unbuttoned and cuffed at his elbows. He didn't want to look like a bum. Knowing Taehyung, he'd look like the model he was. He looked over at Namjoon and Jin, who were looking pretty stylish themselves. Namjoon had on a striped shirt tucked into a pair of dark jeans and a pair of Timberlands while Jin looked the opposite, but still especially handsome with an oversized tan hoodie, blue jeans and white tennis shoes. 

"Jungkook, you're sweating," said Namjoon, patting him on the back. 

"What?" Jungkook felt his forehead, but it was smooth. "No I'm not."

"You will be if you keep acting nervous," said Jin. "Why are you nervous?"

The three of them walked into the house and was met with the upbeat music of R&B from a sound system in the corner. There was another keg in the living room, people dancing to the music, body shots in the other corner. Jungkook could see into the kitchen where the counter had some sodas, water, vodka, gin, tequila, drink mixes and a massive amount of red cups. It was the perfect party to wind down after the first week. 

"I'm just nervous for Tae. I don't know if he has been to a party before," said Jungkook, smoothing down his shirt.

He noticed a few people passing around a joint. One student was handing out pills. Jungkook didn't do any drugs, minus that one time he had done some pot in high school. All he did was illegal drinking in the appropriate situations, like this one. What did Taehyung do? He didn't know if Taehyung did any kind of drugs or drinking. That's probably the one thing he didn't know about him.

"Everything will be fine. Just stick with him, okay?" Jin squeezed his shoulder and turned to Namjoon. "Can I get you a drink?"

Namjoon smiled at Jin. "Sure, thank you."

Jungkook watched Jin walk to the kitchen and chuckled. "Thanks, Jin. I'd love a drink, too." He looked at Namjoon and sighed, putting a hand on his shoulder and shaking it a bit. "Spill."

"Huh?" Namjoon was still looking toward the kitchen.

"Joon, I'm not blind. The others aren't either." The corner of his mouth lifted. "You have feelings for Jin."

Namjoon tore his gaze away from the kitchen and looked at Jungkook before looking down at his feet. "No, I just-" He shrugged and sighed. "I don't know. I suppose. I mean, he's there for me. Whenever I feel like I'm going to have a breakdown, he's there to calm me down. That night you guys left the studio? He stayed with me all night. He gives me room to breathe."

Jungkook had never heard Namjoon sound so meaningful about another person. Namjoon was always so focused on his music. He never had attention for anything else. 

"Why don't you tell him how you feel?" asked Jungkook. 

"I don't want to hurt his feelings because I don't know if I have time for a relationship," he explained. 

"If Jin is that important to you, then it'll be easy to make time for him."

Namjoon didn't say anything as Jin returned with two drinks. Jungkook looked at his empty hands but didn't say anything as Jin and Namjoon looked at each other. He wondered if Namjoon had the same feeling as Jungkook did with Taehyung. 

He felt it. He turned and watched as Taehyung came into the room with Jimin, Hoseok and Yoongi. The boys looked great, but he couldn't stop looking at Taehyung. Most of the students were wearing black, white or grey. But not Taehyung. He was wearing a red stripped button down with green and white track pants and black shoes. He had on a dark sweater and was even wearing a red beret. To a stranger's eye, he might look flashy or even weird. To Jungkook, he looked beautiful. 

He watched as Taehyung tried to find him in the crowd. He was tugging at his fingers nervously and his lips were pouty as he talked to Jimin, his eyes searching. Finally, their eyes met and the entire crowd disappeared. Jungkook stood in his spot and took a deep breath, exhaling slowly as Taehyung began to walk toward him. Taehyung's pouty lips turned into a boxy smile when they finally got in the same bubble. 

"Hi," said Jungkook. His fingers twitched at his side. He wanted to hold his hand so badly, but he wasn't sure how it would look in the middle of a fraternity. 

"Hi." Taehyung smiled and repositioned his beret. "Do I look okay?"

Jungkook ran his fingers down his arm and tugged at his sweater sleeve. "I think you look perfect. You're gorgeous."

"Oh," Taehyung breathed. He looked around. Jungkook noticed when Taehyung inched closer to him. Instinctively, he put his hand on his back. "I've never been to a party before. It's a lot of people."

That's all Jungkook needed to know. Taehyung had never experienced this before. 

He scratched his back a little bit to try and calm his nerves. "It's okay. It's pretty normal. Can I get you a drink? Have you had alcohol before?"

Taehyung nodded and looked at him. At this short distance, Jungkook could see how beautiful his eyes were. In the dark setting with the different colored lights, it was almost like he held the galaxy. No, he did hold the galaxy.

"Just stay here with Namjoon and Jin. I'll be right back," said Jungkook. 

He followed Yoongi and Hoseok into the kitchen and sighed as he looked at all the ingredients. What should he get him? Should he make it simple? What if his taste is more for sweet drinks? He grabbed the vodka and tequila and two red cups. He watched as Yoongi grabbed a beer and then started to make a fruity drink for Jimin. 

Hoseok grabbed a beer for himself and watched them. "Everyone is paired off and here I am."

Yoongi laughed a bit and put his hand on Hoseok's back. "Come on. Just hang out with me and Jimin. Maybe we'll find you someone."

Jungkook watched as they walked away with Yoongi's hand still on Hoseok's back. He raised an eyebrow as he made a screwdriver and then a margarita. Jungkook liked both drinks and he had a feeling Taehyung would like one of the drinks. He walked back out to the party and noticed that the other guys had left their spots. Jimin, Yoongi and Hoseok were laughing and drinking in one corner while Namjoon and Jin were nowhere to be found. Luckily, he spotted Taehyung sitting on the couch quietly, watching everything in front of him. 

Jungkook reached his spot and sat down next to Taehyung, smiling. "I brought two different drinks. You can pick which one you like better."

Taehyung nodded and took the screwdriver first. He took a sip and smacked his lips from the tart flavor before tasting the margarita. He licked his lips and shrugged. "I think I'll keep this one. The orange one is too..." He wiggled his shoulders a bit, causing Jungkook to laugh. 

Jungkook took the screwdriver and took a few gulps, sighing in contentment. He could feel Taehyung's gaze on him, though. "What?"

"You look stressed," said Taehyung, taking a few sips of his own drink. He winced a bit at the burn, but brushed it off. 

"Isn't it a bit too early to be able to tell when I'm stressed?" laughed Jungkook, nudging his knee with his own.

Taehyung laughed but hesitantly put his arm across the back of the couch, his fingers brushing Jungkook's shoulders. The simple touch sent shivers down his spine, but he broke down. "I saw my mom today. You know, I always have to clean there because it's a mess. I don't like to leave her in a mess. I always have to clean up the liquor bottles and today, there seemed to be more. I just don't know how much longer I can keep doing the same routine, you know?"

"No, I understand. I mean, I've never been in that kind of situation before. I'm lucky to have such great parents, but it must be hard going through what you've gone through. I mean, losing your father and this..."

Jungkook tried to hold his tears back. He finished off the rest of his drink and sighed loudly. He tried to keep his gaze away from Taehyung's. If he looked at him, he would just break down. He didn't want to do that, especially during a party. 

He felt Taehyung's hand firmly rest on his shoulder, stroking it in a soothing manner. "I'm not trying to upset you. I just think the best way to talk about things like this is to talk, you know?"

"Yeah, I know." Jungkook finally looked at him and just smiled. The alcohol had washed away whatever tears had been there.

Taehyung looked around at everyone dancing and smirked a bit. "This probably isn't the best setting, but I'm glad you feel comfortable enough to open up to me."

Jungkook did feel comfortable. He felt like he could tell Taehyung anything that was on his mind and he wouldn't be judged for it. It felt like Taehyung really did understand him. 

The distance between them was becoming too intense and there was far too many people around. If he wasn't careful, he was going to risk it all in front of an entire fraternity. He didn't want to do that to Taehyung. 

The music changed to something dark and sexy and he smiled, standing up. He held out his hand to Taehyung. "Come dance with me. Let's have some fun."

Taehyung looked hesitant. "Uh, I don't know. I don't really know how to dance."

Jungkook took his hand and helped him stand up. He suddenly didn't care who saw them. He wanted to hold his hand. "Come on. It's just me. We deserve some fun."

Taehyung grinned, finished off the rest of his drink, and followed Jungkook to the middle of the dance floor. He didn't know what happened or how it started, but the two of them got close as they danced to the beat of the music. It wasn't too slow, but it wasn't too fast. It was the perfect pace for Taehyung to place his hands on Jungkook's waist. Jungkook put his arms over his shoulders and kept his eyes on him. Taehyung's eyes were cast down, but he was biting his lip in pure joy and ecstasy. 

People began to shout as the music intensified and suddenly, shots were being passed around on a tray. Jungkook quickly grabbed four shots; two for him and two for Taehyung. They took their shots at the same time and placed them on a second tray. As the alcohol raced through their bloodstream, their passion and tension for each other was raised above the bar. Someone in the room turned down the lights and multiple colors of lights illuminated the room. Everyone cheered as the beat dropped.

Taehyung turned his back to Jungkook and began dancing even closer to him, as close as possible. Their bodies were touching, rubbing up and down each other. Jungkook gripped Taehyung's hips as his groin touched his backside. It was the hottest thing Jungkook had ever experienced and he didn't want to stop. This boy in front him, someone he had known for such a short amount of time, was making him go crazy. He smelled really good and, as Jungkook's lips inadvertently skimmed his neck, he tasted good, too. Jungkook licked his lips, tasting the sweat from Taehyung's neck and a hint of strawberries. 

Something happened with Taehyung in that moment. His ass purposefully bumped into Jungkook's crotch. Jungkook gasped at the sensation. In no time, he was hard. This boy was making him hard and the alcohol wasn't helping him. His inhibitions were out the window. Right now, it was only him and Taehyung. He wanted Taehyung. Bad.

Jungkook let his hands roam across Taehyung's front. His hands went underneath Taehyung's shirt. This wasn't like the locker room. Now, Jungkook had full access. His hands touched his stomach and he felt his vocal chords as Taehyung moaned at the sensation. Jungkook had a cocky mind when it came to this. He smiled at the way he made Taehyung feel. It was plenty dark in the room, so he took the chance and lowered his lips back to his neck. This time, it wasn't just a brush. He kissed his skin and nipped at his neck, his hands brushing across Taehyung's nipples. Taehyung pushed his bottom back against his groin and Jungkook nipped harder at the impact. Jungkook's hands traveled down, down, down. His fingers were right above his track pants and he had the perfect opportunity to reach inside. 

The lights flew on and the music stopped. Jungkook stumbled back with a shout. His hands were shaking and his lips were trembling. He didn't even look to see what was going on. He watched as Taehyung kept his back to him, breathing hard. The room was shouting in protest at the silence. As the lights went back off and the music started again (someone had stepped on the power cord), the boys looked at each other.

What had just happened? Was it the alcohol or was this really what they wanted? Was this what Jungkook wanted? Was he just taking advantage of Taehyung?

Jungkook looked down at his hands and gripped them into fists. He mumbled under his breath and raced past Taehyung into the kitchen. He leaned over the sink to catch his breath. What was wrong with him? He was totally attracted to Taehyung. It was normal to do that with someone you had an attraction to. But, he never exhibited his sexuality like that before. He kept to himself on campus. He didn't want to expose Taehyung like that and bring on any violence from someone who didn't understand. It was too common in the city. Maybe Jungkook was too drunk. But no. Jungkook wasn't too bad. He could count backwards. He could see in front of him. His head didn't hurt. 

He felt a hand on his shoulder. "Are you okay?"

Jungkook didn't look at Jin. "I don't know what I'm doing."

"I saw you out there. It looked like you knew exactly what you were doing and what you wanted to do," chuckled Jin, pouring himself a drink.

Jungkook couldn't help but smile. He turned around and leaned against the counter, running his hands through his hair as he groaned. Compared to earlier, he was sweating now. "I'm not that drunk. I mean, not really. I know how I feel about Taehyung, but out there, it just felt electrified. I don't know how to handle it. I've never done something like this with another guy before. He just makes me feel..."

Jin nodded. "I know what you mean. Namjoon and I..." He didn't finish his sentence, but Jungkook knew what he wanted to say. "Don't hide from how you feel, Jungkook."

He saw the look on his face and put his hand on his shoulder. "Same with you, Jin."

Jungkook walked out of the kitchen and found Taehyung back on the couch, staring down at his hands. He wasn't smiling. He looked troubled. Almost as if sensing him, he looked up and met Jungkook's eyes from across the room. Jungkook walked over to him and held out his hand.

Taehyung didn't immediately take it. But, he took it. Jungkook led him upstairs and found an empty bedroom. He let Taehyung in first and then locked the door so they could have privacy. Jungkook didn't say anything. He watched Taehyung as he sat on the bed, running his hand down the purple comforter. The room was pretty bare. Just a few shelves, a television and the bed. It didn't look like it was occupied too much. 

Jungkook stayed at the door and put his hands in his pockets. "I'm sorry for what I did out there. I went too far."

"Kookie," started Taehyung. Jungkook smiled at the nickname. "I don't want you to apologize. But, if you find it wrong to...do things with me-"

Jungkook rushed over to him and sat next to him on the bed. He held his hands in his lap. "No, no. I don't find it wrong. It felt amazing. I've never felt so alive. I just don't want to take advantage of you. You're in a new city and I don't want you to get caught up in a dangerous situation."

"Dangerous situation?"

"I don't know those people down there. I don't know if someone is a homophobe or beats up people because of who we are. But, the closer we got, the harder it got to stop," he explained.

Their bodies had gotten closer. Jungkook could feel the heat of Taehyung's breath on his face. He smelled like lime and strawberries. Jungkook stroked Taehyung's hands and brought them up to his lips, kissing his skin. He could hear Taehyung's quick intake of breath at the contact.

They both looked at each other. It was just like in his bedroom. This time, nobody could interrupt them. The other guys were having fun downstairs (or upstairs) and the door was locked. Taehyung leaned his forehead against his as their noses grazed against each other. Jungkook knew he could take this chance, but something was stopping him.

"Tae, you're drunk," he whispered, still staring down at his lips.

Taehyung sighed and moved away, but kept his hands with Jungkook's. "I know what I'm doing, Jungkook. I know where I'm at and I know where we're at. I know it's only been a week, but I don't care. I know you and I'm pretty sure you know me better than I know myself at times."

Jungkook waited patiently for him to finish. His heart was starting to beat fast.

"Jungkook, I'm feeling things for you that I never thought I could feel for another person. It's so strong that I can't ignore it even if I tried. You bring me comfort in this strange place. I've realized something, though." He paused. "It doesn't matter that I'm not in Daegu or Seoul. With you, I feel like I'm home. You are my home."

Taehyung released a hand and placed it on Jungkook's chest, right over his heart. His heartbeat sped up even more. His body got hotter. "This. I don't know what I have to do, but this is what I want. I want to be able to have a place in your heart. There's no letting go of how I feel about you. I know what my heart wants. It wants you. Since day one."

Jungkook could've sworn bells were going off somewhere; romantic bells. There was no stopping him now. Nothing in his mind told him this was a bad idea. Everything was screaming at him to do it, it was a good idea. He cupped Taehyung's face and brought him back, nuzzling his nose before bringing his lips to meet Taehyung's in a slow kiss. It was just how he imagined it would feel, only better. Taehyung's lips were soft and slim and, just as he ate and talked, they were pouty. 

The feeling was too incredible. He pulled away and closed his eyes before whispering, "Finally."

Taehyung giggled at his reaction. His hands went to Jungkook's waist and gripped his shirt. "I know. You're pretty good."

Jungkook threw back his head and laughed at the compliment. He stared at Taehyung again and stroked his thumb across his lips. He met his eyes and asked for permission to go again. Taehyung nodded and used his shirt to pull him forward. This time, it was different. Their lips met and it was harder and faster.

Jungkook wrapped his arms around Taehyung as their lips danced across each other, almost as if they were made for each other. Taehyung's hands gripped at his button up and tugged. He pulled away and slipped off his shirt, leaving him in just his back t-shirt. Taehyung took off his sweater and tossed it to the floor before slipping off his shoes and bringing his feet up to the bed. Jungkook followed his actions and, almost immediately, they were lying on the bed with Jungkook on top of Taehyung. 

His right hand roamed across Taehyung's waist while his left hand cradled his face, their lips moving faster and harder. Taehyung licked Jungkook's bottom lip and he obliged, opening his mouth and granting his tongue access. Everything was so soft in the kiss, but the intensity was so hard. He moved his lips over to Taehyung's neck, feeling more free than he had downstairs on the dance floor. Taehyung's fingers went through Jungkook's hair as he moaned. The sound made Jungkook hard again and he instinctively grinded his hips against Taehyung's groin. To his surprise, Taehyung happily returned the favor. He was hard, too.

They were both grinding against each other. Hands roamed, kisses were planted in different areas. They couldn't stop. Jungkook couldn't stop. Taehyung felt too good. He wanted it all with him.

Jungkook pulled away slowly and looked down at this beautiful man. His lips were swollen and his eyes were dazed with happiness as he stroked Jungkook's cheek. Jungkook leaned into the touch and smiled, kissing Taehyung's fingers. Jungkook looked down and toyed with the top button of Taehyung's shirt. 

He looked at Taehyung. He chewed on his bottom lip and nodded at Jungkook before whispering, "It's okay."

Taehyung brought their bodies up on the bed, his legs straddling Jungkook's waist as he kissed Jungkook's neck. Jungkook closed his eyes and moaned at the incredible feeling, his fingers unbuttoning the top button of Taehyung's shirt and slowly traveling to the second button.

Chapter Text

He had never felt such pain before in his life. At least, not like this. His entire body hurt and he could feel it pulsing with every heart beat. It went straight to his head and he tried not to bring his fingers up for fear that his limbs would fall off. His eyes were closed, but he was awake now. There was something soft and firm underneath his stomach. His head was resting on something fluffy and, when he peeked his eyes open, he saw white sheets. He was cradling a pillow underneath his arms and there was drool stuck to his cheek and the pillow itself. He scanned the rest of his surroundings as best as he could and came to the slow realization that this was not his dorm room. It was too empty and Jimin's bed was nowhere to be found. 

Where was he?

He slowly turned over on his back and groaned under his breath, rubbing his eyes profusely. His hair stuck up in odd places and his face felt puffy. His mouth was slick with saliva and sleep. The headache was still there and it was pounding. His body was aching, but he just felt incredibly tired. He wanted to stay in bed for the rest of his life. 

There was a cough below him. Someone was in this room with him.

He peeked over to the other side of the bed and saw a bare back. There was a sheet covering the bottom half of this person's body. From the build, this person appeared to be another boy. The dark hair was a complete bedhead mess and, when the body turned over in his sleep and Taehyung finally saw his face, his eyes went wide. 

It was Jungkook!

He wasn't wearing a shirt and, from what Taehyung could see the further he looked, Jungkook's shirt was tossed somewhere on the floor. There was a pair of ripped jeans and white tennis shoes next to it. Jungkook was practically naked. Why did this always happen to them? 

Taehyung's eyes traveled further around the room. On the shelves, there was a pair of green pants, a red shirt, a dark sweater and black shoes. A beret was settled nicely on top of the folded clothes, too. At this, Taehyung peered down underneath the covers. The only thing he had on were his boxers. He was in the same position as Jungkook which meant - 

"Oh God," he whispered, running both hands through his already messy hair.

Did they have sex last night? Did they do anything at all last night? He couldn't remember anything. The last thing he remembered was accepting a drink from Jungkook and just having a good time being around him. But, did that good time extend to something more? Did Taehyung and Jungkook drink so much that they both took things to another level?

Taehyung wasn't going to lie. It was obvious he found Jungkook attractive and down right sexy. He felt comfortable with Jungkook and he loved being around him. He had feelings for him. But, Taehyung wasn't ready to take that step with him. They weren't even in a relationship. They weren't really even dating. Taehyung was a virgin. Or, had been a virgin. This was so humiliating. 

He could never look Jungkook in the eyes again.

Taehyung quietly got out of bed and tiptoed over to his clothes. He watched Jungkook, who was still fast asleep and looking adorable at the same time. 

"No fair," he murmured.

He needed to get out of there. He couldn't face Jungkook right now. He put his clothes on the bed and grabbed his pants. Unfortunately, with his pounding headache and tired body, he didn't have the right stability. When he tried to put his pants on, he stumbled and knocked into the wall, creating a rather loud sound that woke up Jungkook from his adorable sleep.

Jungkook sat up in a daze, yawned and rubbed his eyes. With his eyes still closed, he stretched his arms up and Taehyung couldn't help but admire his muscles. God, why did he have to be so beautiful?

Jungkook finally turned to him as Taehyung hurriedly put on his clothes. "Hey."

"Hi," said Taehyung. He buttoned his shirt and began to slip on his sweater, refusing to meet his eyes. This was too embarrassing. 

"Where are you going?" asked Jungkook. He got up from his makeshift bed, clad in only a pair of boxers. 

Taehyung had to try hard to keep his eyes focused on anything else. "I, uh, need to go. I have a, uh, paper and I, uh, just need to go."

Jungkook furrowed his brows and grabbed Taehyung's hands. Taehyung finally looked at him and he felt his eyes brimming with tears. Jungkook immediately noticed and moved a hand to his cheek, stroking it gently. It didn't help the tears from falling. "Hey, hey. What's wrong? What happened?"

He made a mental note how cute his sleepy Korean sounded.

"Jungkook, you don't remember? I mean, look at us!" Taehyung moved away from him and sat on the bed, putting his face in his hands. 

Jungkook sat next to him. "What? What's wrong with us?"

How could he ask him or even tell him? This was so awkward. Taehyung exhaled slowly and looked at him, wiping his eyes. "Jungkook, you're in your underwear. I was in my underwear. We're in the same room. I mean..." He paused for a moment. "Did we..."

Jungkook seemed to finally understand what was going through Taehyung's mind. He started to smile a bit and shook his head, taking Taehyung's hands again. He kissed them and held them in his lap as he stared into his eyes.

"No. We didn't do anything last night, Tae."

Taehyung's heart dropped. They didn't have sex. They didn't do anything together. Taehyung was still a virgin. He released a breath he didn't realize he had been holding and kept his hands with Jungkook's. That sense of comfort was returning really fast.

"Oh my God. I thought I was going to have to avoid you for the rest of my life," he laughed.

Jungkook chuckled. "Well, I'd hope that would never happen if we ever did do anything."

Taehyung just blushed and laid back on the bed with a loud groan as he rubbed his head. Why did things have to be so awkward between them? 

"You got drunk pretty fast," chuckled Jungkook, getting off the bed and throwing on his clothes.

Jungkook had asked him to dance. In front of everybody. Needless to say, Taehyung was excited but he was also nervous. They were getting closer and this party was starting to prove that. He looked around at everybody else dancing, mostly guys and girls together. He could see the others talking with each other. Namjoon and Jin were especially talking pretty close, though it was about time.

Taehyung downed the rest of his drink and got up, smiling at Jungkook. This boy was worth it. Jungkook took his hand and it sent shivers down Taehyung's spine. He never realized how badly he craved his simple touch. He wondered if he was a cuddler or not. He seemed like the type.

The music wasn't too fast or too slow. It seemed to be just right. They danced close to each other and it made Taehyung even more nervous, but he didn't want to stop. Jungkook's eyes kept looking at him. He took the chance and put his hands on his waist, pulling just a bit closer. Jungkook seemed to like it, judging from the smile on his face. He bit his lip and threw his hands over Taehyung's shoulders. They both were getting lost in the beat. It was starting to get really intense as the music's beat hit really hard. He could feel his pulse racing as their bodies nearly touched.

Suddenly, a tray of shots was passed around. Jungkook handed him two and he downed them both immediately. Jungkook drank his own shots and then spun around with excitement and carelessness. Taehyung laughed at his attitude and watched as he accidentally bumped into Yoongi, Hoseok and Jimin. Taehyung grinned at them and felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned around to see a boy with red eyes, messy dark hair and disheveled clothing. He was smiling, though.

"You look like you're having the time of your life, man."

The boy was speaking in English, but Taehyung caught the gist of it. He smiled back. "Yes, I am! It's my first party!"

The boy dug in his pocket and produced a baggy. Taehyung saw there were little white things inside, what looked to be pills. He wasn't stupid. He knew about drugs. His mother had given him a lecture, but right now, his inhibitions were nowhere to be found. The alcohol was working through his bloodstream and, as the boy pulled out one white pill, it looked pretty fascinating.

"Your first party, huh? You'll want to enjoy it while you can, man. There won't be as many opportunities once the semester starts," he explained.

Taehyung smiled and took the pill in his hands. The guy was right, though Taehyung wasn't 100% sure what he had said. He understood one thing, though: enjoy it while you can. That's all Taehyung wanted. He wanted to enjoy his time in America while he was here. He wanted to enjoy his time with Jungkook, with his friends and with the city. 

He put the pill in his mouth and swallowed. It was rough and bitter, but it went down. The boy was gone to another victim and Taehyung just stood there. Slowly, but surely, the world seemed to stop for a moment. He began to feel light. He stared down at his hands and they seemed to be much more exposed. He could see the little hairs and the small cracks. 

His mouth began to feel dry and it almost felt like his stomach was grumbling. He looked around, unaware how fast his head was spinning with the movement. To a stranger's eye, he was fidgeting and moving his fingers pretty fast. He quickly went into the kitchen and poured himself a red cup of plain vodka, hoping this would help his sudden thirst. He gulped it down, regardless of the burn, but felt no change. He still felt thirsty. And hungry. He grabbed some chips from the counter and began eating at a fast pace the more the drug ran through his system. 

"Damn," he muttered. The chips were salty and were only making him even more thirsty. He spotted the sink and grinned, turning on the water. Instead of grabbing a glass, he stuck his head underneath the sink and began lapping up the water like a dog. A few people around him started laughing and even encouraging him to keep going, cruelly barking at him as if he were indeed a dog. Taehyung had no idea, but the cheering was only making him feel even better at the moment. 

"Hey, dog! Come here, boy!" Someone called out to him. Taehyung turned around to see one of the frat boys with a bowl. "Fill this up."

Taehyung did as he was told, eager to please these new friends. He turned back to them and proudly held up the bowl of water. "I did it!"

The boy laughed and gestured with his red cup. "Put it on the ground and drink it like a dog."

Well, he was thirsty. 

Taehyung got down on his hands and knees and began lapping up the water, even barking a few times as everyone around him laughed and cheered him on, taunting him, calling him pet names and barking at him. The noise got louder, encouraging Taehyung even more. His thirst was being quenched and that's all he cared about. He was even making new friends at the same time. This was the best first party ever!

Suddenly, the chanting stopped but the laughter was still around, only not as loud as before. Taehyung felt hands underneath his armpits as he was brought to a standing position. Jungkook had a hold of him and, when Taehyung looked at him, he smiled. His feelings for Jungkook felt electrified at the moment and his touch around his arms felt pretty amazing. Why did his touch feel so good right now? 

"Taehyung - "

"Oh, Jungkook. I missed you!" Taehyung threw his arms around him and nuzzled his nose in his neck, smelling his beautiful scent. 

Jungkook took them backwards and out of the kitchen, mumbling something. Taehyung's lips pursed as he kissed Jungkook's neck. Jungkook quickly led them over to the couch and set Taehyung down.

Taehyung pouted at the loss of his touch. "Jungkookie."

"What the hell happened to you? You didn't drink that much, did you?" he asked him, scratching his head. 

"Not really, I don't think." Taehyung sighed heavily and threw his hands down on the couch dramatically. "I just feel really thirsty and hungry, but more thirsty." He rubbed the couch and smiled. "Oh wow. This couch is really soft. Was it soft before? It feels even more soft right now."

"What?" Jungkook furrowed his brows. 

Taehyung suddenly grabbed Jungkook's hands and brought him down so he was on his lap, nearly straddling Taehyung's waist. His hands roamed across Jungkook's back and underneath his shirt. "Oh, my. Your skin is so soft. You really shouldn't be wearing all these clothes, you know. I remember seeing you in that locker room and I knew from that moment that I wanted you."

"Tae, you really shouldn't be doing this." 

Taehyung could tell Jungkook was getting nervous and he smiled. "Oh really?" He glanced down for a moment and his smile got wider. "Your body is telling me I should keep going."

He wrapped his arms around Jungkook's waist and brought him closer, his lips kissing his cloth-covered chest. He bit at the material before moving his mouth over to Jungkook's exposed collarbone, the neckline having drifted. His body seemed to lift up in the air when he heard Jungkook moan at the sensation. He smiled into the kiss and kept going, nipping at the skin. 

"Guys, what's going on here?"

Jungkook seemed to fly off of Taehyung's lap, quickly adjusting his pants and his shirt as Yoongi, Jimin and Hoseok came up to them, looking incredibly confused at the situation in front of them. Taehyung rolled his eyes and laid down on the couch, rubbing the soft material with his hands. 

"Spoil sport," he muttered, pouting.

"I'm all for you two finally getting it on, but right here in front of everybody? I didn't think you were an exhibitionist," said Hoseok, his arm over Jimin's shoulder.

"No, we're not." Jungkook sighed heavily. "Have you seen any drugs going around?" 

"Drugs?" 

Suddenly, the boy from earlier stopped at the couch and grinned approvingly at Taehyung. "How's that hit going, man? Did it make your first party better?"

Taehyung just put a thumbs up.

Jungkook grabbed the boy's shirt collar and glared at him. "What the fuck did you give him?"

The boy just laughed and patted his pocket. "Just some good ole X."

"Ecstasy? Are you fucking stupid?" Yoongi pushed him out of Jungkook's hold, his own anger taking over. 

"Yoongi." Jimin grabbed his arm gently and pulled him away.

Jungkook pushed the boy. "Get the fuck out of here." He looked back at Taehyung and sighed. "I don't know what to do."

"We need to get him to a bedroom. Away from everyone. He'll eventually pass out if we just keep him calm," said Yoongi.

Jimin looked at him curiously. "Wait, how do you know?"

Yoongi shook his head and went over to Taehyung. "Just help me."

Taehyung, during the whole exchange, had suddenly felt different. Instead of feeling euphoric, his body started to feel hot but he felt cold. He felt weird. Sweat kept dripping down his body and underneath his clothes. He felt nauseous, too. As the boys helped him up the stairs, he muttered about needing the toilet. It felt like his stomach was going to come out of his mouth. He felt like death on legs.

When they reached a bedroom, the boys brought him to the attached bathroom and set him on the floor in front of the toilet. Immediately, Taehyung leaned over and threw up the contents of his stomach from the entire day. The alcohol, his food from the morning, maybe the drug. He didn't know. He just felt like shit.

Jungkook sat next to him and looked at the other boys. "I've got it from here. I'll catch you guys in the morning."

Soon, it was just Taehyung and Jungkook. Taehyung didn't know if he had to throw up again, but he kept close to the toilet. The clarity within him was still there. Every inch of the bathroom was a lot clearer and he couldn't stop staring. Jungkook was on the floor, back against the cabinets and his head was back with his eyes closed. Taehyung grabbed some toilet paper and wiped his mouth. When he looked back at Jungkook again, he felt the same as he had downstairs. Jungkook just looked ethereal. He was sweating from dancing earlier and the heat, he had a mark from earlier when Taehyung had kissed his collarbone and his hair was slightly mussed. 

He looked like sex.

Taehyung crawled over to him and gripped at his shirt, causing Jungkook to look at him curiously. "Jeon Jungkook."

"Tae, are you okay? I should have kept a closer eye on you," he told him, rubbing his arm gently. 

Taehyung's fingers curled as they drifted down to his waist. "I feel like I want you. I want all of you."

"Tae - "

"I can't stop thinking about you and, right now, you're all I want. I want everything."

Taehyung began to unravel his jeans, but Jungkook stopped him, gripping his hands tightly in his. It confused Taehyung. Didn't Jungkook want him, too? They had been flirting so much lately and had even admitted to each other that there was something there. Why was Jungkook stopping him?

"We need to get you in bed," said Jungkook, helping him up off of the floor. 

Taehyung understood now. He nodded and walked with Jungkook to the bed. He sat down and immediately pulled Jungkook down with him, attacking his lips with kisses as he grabbed at Jungkook's waist and ass, wanting him closer than ever before. Jungkook pulled away and kept a safe distance from Taehyung, putting his hands up to ward him off.

"Taehyung, no."

Taehyung scoffed and glared at him. "You're unbelievable. You tell me you are attracted to me and you push me away? I'm giving you what we both want."

"I'm not going to do this with you, Taehyung. Not when you're like this."

"Like what? I'm just Taehyung."

"No, you're not. You're fucking high off of X!" shouted Jungkook. 

"Fuck you," said Taehyung, scooting back on the bed and turning his back to him. What a mistake this was. Meeting Jungkook, admitting his attraction, falling for him. He wished he had never come to New York.

"You finally went to sleep later and I helped take off your clothes so you were more comfortable and I slept on the floor," explained Jungkook. "Well, I kept an eye on you for a little bit, but I went to sleep when I figured it was safe."

Taehyung couldn't believe this. He had embarrassed himself at his first party, publicly made sexual contact with Jungkook and even tried to force himself on to him. All because of a white pill? This wasn't Taehyung, but Jungkook wouldn't see that. He saw enough last night. His face was hot as his eyes welled up with tears. He had ruined everything. 

He gripped the bedsheets underneath him and gulped, avoiding eye contact as Jungkook sat next to him on the bed. "I understand...if you don't want to see me again. I-I embarrassed us both and made a fool of myself and you. I don't deserve you."

He immediately expected Jungkook to agree, causing the tears to fall on his knees. Instead, Jungkook surprised him by grabbing his hands and clutching them in his lap. 

"Taehyung, that is not going to happen. Look, last night was not your fault. It was your first party and some idiot took advantage of that. I'm not going to blackball you because of that, okay? I would never do that. I protected you last night and I will always protect you."

"So, I haven't ruined my chance?" he asked with a small smile.

Jungkook laughed a bit and shook his head. "No way. I still hold claim to you."

Jungkook enveloped Taehyung into a hug and, much to his shock, kissed his cheek. He kept the hug going and he felt Jungkook's face in the crook of his neck. He let out a long sigh and said with a shaky breath, "I was so worried about you."

"And I wasn't rejecting you. I just didn't want our first kiss, our first time, to be like that," he continued, gripping on to Taehyung's body.

Taehyung pulled back, but kept a close distance to Jungkook. When he looked at him, it reminded him of his dream. Being this close to Jungkook was right before they had made out, right before they had nearly gone all the way. But just in his dream. This was reality, but here Jungkook was, actually getting closer to him. He pressed his forehead lightly against his and even smirked a bit, knowing the affect he had on Taehyung. 

"What did you dream about?" he asked.

He couldn't find the right words, but somehow he was able to speak out loud. "We were just like this. So close, but so far away. I told you I wanted a place in your heart and...you kissed me."

"Yeah?" whispered Jungkook, his hands slowly reaching up to his cheeks.

Taehyung just exhaled in response. He was sober, Jungkook was sober. This was all of them. No drugs, no alcohol to influence them. He was getting another chance and he knew he should take it. He needed Jungkook. He needed his heart. He needed...

"I need the bathroom," he suddenly said, leaving Jungkook hanging as he rushed to the bathroom. He fell on the floor and threw up in the toilet.

He was never doing drugs again.

 

After Taehyung had finished throwing up and apologized to Jungkook (again), the two of them decided to wander the house and look for their friends. The hallways were empty of people but were filthy with empty cups, food, wrappers, streamers, baggies and other unmentionables. Some were passed out in the tub, some doors were closed while others were left open to reveal rather interesting positions. Jungkook was quietly opening up different rooms and finding no sign of their friends. 

"I wonder where everyone is," he asked.

They headed downstairs and it was a different sight than last night. It was even more of a mess with red cups, food, streamers and unmentionables again. Some people were asleep on the floor, but it looks like the majority of the party was no longer present in the house. If they were, they were probably outside. 

Taehyung walked further into the room and spotted an unusual sight. Yoongi was asleep, sitting back on the couch with his mouth hanging open. Jimin was lying down, his head in Yoongi's lap and his arms crossed, still passed out. Then, there was Hoseok, who was cuddled against Jimin and asleep, too. Taehyung had never seen such a thing, but he had to admit. It was kind of cute. 

Jungkook came up to Taehyung and took in the sight. All he did was nod approvingly and put his hands in his pockets, pursing his lips slightly. "Oh. Nice. So, uh, I can't find Namjoon or Jin. I don't know if they might have - "

They were interrupted by the sound of footsteps coming down the stairs. They both looked up to see Namjoon and Jin coming down together, adjusting their clothes and trying to fix their hair. They stopped when they saw Jungkook and Taehyung, but it wasn't what made the younger boys stop and stare at their elders. 

It was the multiple bite marks etched across both of their necks. 

"We just - " started Namjoon.

"It was a - " said Jin, moving his hands around.

Jungkook just put up his hand to stop them. "No, no need. Last night was crazy, for sure."

Hoseok began to stir as he mumbled something in Korean, clutching Jimin tighter for a moment as he woke up. Yoongi and Jimin began to wake up and, soon, everyone was looking at each other and assessing the entire situation: Yoongi, Hoseok and Jimin asleep together while cuddling, Namjoon and Jin with mussed clothes and bite marks, and then Jungkook taking care of Taehyung. It was the first party of the semester and it had definitely been a wild one. It was Taehyung's first party and he wasn't sure how long he would feel scarred from last night. However, it was still memorable. Ironically, it brought him closer to Jungkook than before. He looked over at him and smiled. 

Jungkook smiled back at him and then looked at everyone before asking, "So, how's about some coffee?"

 

As the day went on, all seven of the friends hung out with some coffee and then parted ways to sleep off their remaining party high, do some homework or even talk to each other about what had exactly happened - mainly Namjoon and Jin. Yoongi had actually gone back to bed while Jimin and Hoseok decided to do some homework - in Jimin's room. That's where Taehyung was and, honestly, he was slightly confused. Next to him, Jimin and Hoseok had their books out on Jimin's bed. However, instead of doing homework, they were watching a drama while laying next to each other rather closely. 

Didn't Jimin like Yoongi? He didn't know if Hoseok was into guys, really. But last night, the three of them had been rather close. Taehyung wasn't a total idiot. He knew what a polyamorous relationship was, but was that what they were doing? It was all happening so fast. Then again, so was him and Jungkook. His dream had nearly come to life until he ruined it by throwing up again. If he hadn't have taken that drug, would the dream have been a reality then? 

He was a total virgin in both ways. He had never had sex with a guy, never really made out with a guy and never even gave a handjob to a guy. But with Jungkook, he wanted to do it all to him and vice versa. It was all he thought about. Of course, he wanted the emotional aspect with Jungkook. He wanted to talk to him all the time. They texted a lot during the day when they weren't together and Taehyung felt he knew everything about him already. 

Something was holding him back, though. He didn't want to scare him away. He had never had a serious relationship before. What if Taehyung got too clingy? What if he wasn't good at sex? What if he was an awful kisser? Or worse. 

What if Jungkook just got bored and...?

No. Jungkook wouldn't do that. He wouldn't break his heart. It wasn't in his nature to be that cruel. But, how could he be sure?

"Hey, uh, can I ask you guys something?" asked Taehyung, fiddling with his phone as he sat cross-legged on his bed.

Jimin and Hoseok stopped laughing and looked up at Taehyung. Jimin paused the drama and nodded, sitting up on the bed. "What's up?"

"You've known Jungkook longer than me, obviously. Has he ever had any kind of relationship that was serious?" he asked.

Hoseok shrugged and glanced at Jimin who said, "Not particularly. If he has, he hasn't told us. He doesn't share much of his personal life until now, since he met you."

"Why do you ask?" asked Hoseok curiously. 

Taehyung didn't know how to answer himself. He didn't want to sound like he didn't trust Jungkook. "I've never really had a relationship. I mean, what if I'm not good at it? If Jungkook and I get into a relationship, what if he gets bored or what if - "

"You think Jungkook would cheat on you?" asked Jimin. 

"Jungkook doesn't have the balls to do that," laughed Hoseok. He shook his head and cleared his throat. "I mean, he is one of the nicest guys out there."

"You guys already have something so special. I can see that," said Jimin. "We all wouldn't have helped you guys get together if we didn't see something special between you two. Something that is worth that risk."

Taehyung nodded. "Yeah."

"How do you feel when you're with Jungkook?" asked Hoseok.

He instantly smiled when he thought about it and that was enough for Jimin and Hoseok to make sounds of appreciation, pointing and pretending to taunt him. Taehyung laughed at their gestures and threw a pillow at them. They were right. Jungkook was the sweetest guy. When he was with him, he felt like he was on more than cloud nine. He felt like he could do anything, be anything. It was a feeling that he didn't want to let go of. It wasn't love, but Taehyung knew the path could lead there. 

Taehyung's phone chimed. He picked it up to see a text from Jungkook:

meet me outside your dorm in fifteen minutes. wear hiking shoes if you have any. I have a place for the project. xoxo

"He wants to meet me later today somewhere," said Taehyung.

Jimin glanced out his window. "Right now? It's almost sunset. That's pretty romantic." He glanced at Hoseok with a smile. 

Taehyung watched them for a moment and raised an eyebrow. He wasn't going to get into or even ask them the question that was on his mind. It wasn't his business. Whatever was going on though, he was happy if they were happy. 

Not long after that, he got off the elevator and into the lobby. He had borrowed Jimin's bulkier shoes since he didn't have any and Jimin hardly wore his pair. He was dressed in a pair of long ripped blue jean shorts and a simple t-shirt. He had decided to wear his glasses since his eyes were bothering him a bit after last night. They were dark rimmed and square. 

In the lobby, he noticed Yoongi was at the desk looking more awake than he had earlier. Taehyung stopped at the desk and smiled. "Hey."

Yoongi smiled at him and took an earbud out. "Hey. Where are you off to?"

"Jungkook wants to take me somewhere. All he said was to wear hiking shoes."

"At sunset? Dude, you're going somewhere romantic," he smirked, wiggling his eyebrows. 

Taehyung rolled his eyes. "How long are you here for?"

Yoongi checked his phone. "I really don't know. I'm thinking of calling in someone else to replace me early. I wanted to hang out with Jimin."

"Oh. Well, he's upstairs in the dorm with Hoseok. They're just watching some dramas," he explained. 

Yoongi's eyebrows shot up and he suddenly had a wide grin on his face. It was gummy and rather adorable. "Really? I'd much rather be doing them!" He paused, wide eyed. "I mean, that. I'd much rather be doing that." 

Taehyung wasn't a fool. He caught Yoongi's slip, but held back a smile. "Ok then. If that's the case, then maybe I'll stay out late. Just don't touch my bed."

Taehyung walked away as Yoongi hurriedly found a replacement for the rest of the night before bolting toward the elevator. He made it outside and was surprised to find that Jungkook wasn't here yet. He began to wonder where Jungkook was planning on taking him. The weather was pretty nice, so maybe it was outside. Was it going to be romantic? They hadn't talked about going anywhere else since the restaurant. Then again, this was Jungkook's project. He knew what he was doing.

"Hey!" Jungkook ran up to him, seemingly out of breath. He had his backpack on and was wearing Timberlands, dark shorts and a striped shirt. His hair was fussy, but he looked damn good. "Sorry I'm late. Have you been waiting long?"

"No, just about a minute or so." Taehyung smiled at him. "Do I look okay?"

Jungkook grinned and looked him up and down. "You look great. I love your glasses. Is there anything that makes you look bad? You seem to pull off anything."

Taehyung just laughed and blushed. "I'll take that as a compliment."

Jungkook looked up at the sky. "We better get going. I want to make it there before the sun goes down. It's not too far, but we'll have to take a few subways."

The two of them walked together a few blocks before making it to the subway. It was pretty packed with people going out for the night, but they stuck close to each other, having to stand up and hang on to the rails as the car flew by. At one point, the car had jolted too hard for Taehyung and he had nearly fallen over. Fortunately, Jungkook had caught on to his waist and held him tight, keeping him safe. It had made Taehyung's heart leap. He couldn't look at him, but he just smiled.

When they got off the subway to Rice and Riches, they began the walk to a place called Esdale Bridge. Jungkook explained where they were going as they headed towards another subway stop.

"It's called Prospect Park. It's a little trail, but it has this amazing waterfall. I went there late and it was practically empty, but the sun was about to set. Once it did, it was really something," he told Taehyung.

So, the others were right. It was definitely going to be romantic. Jungkook was planning something, though. He had to be. 

"You wanted to use that spot for your project?" asked Taehyung as they rode the subway to the last stop.

Jungkook smiled at him. They were sitting in the seats for this ride. "Yeah. I have a few ideas."

"Can I have a hint?" Taehyung raised his eyebrows.

Jungkook looked down, turning shy. He fidgeted with the strap on his backpack. "Not for this one. You trust me?"

They both looked at each other and the energy shifted. Taehyung watched as Jungkook's eyes stuck to his. It was hard to look anywhere else. But, he nodded and turned away, smiling to himself. 

When they finally made it back outside, Jungkook led the way as they made it to the trail. It was another world compared to the bustling city life. The trail was lined with many trees and rocks. Taehyung could smell the fresh air and nature around him. If he listened closely, he could hear the stream of water. With the sun low in the sky, it was beautiful. He walked behind Jungkook and, as he watched him, the sun's rays hit his body at just the right angle. He looked like an angel. His eyes traveled down and inadvertently stared at his ass, which looked pretty good in the shorts. His legs looked good, too.

Jungkook turned to look over his shoulder at him and smiled. "Enjoying the view so far?"

Taehyung gulped and he was pretty sure he was as red as a tomato. "Uh, yeah. Definitely."

Jungkook just laughed and kept walking at a decent pace. Taehyung suddenly noticed that people were going in the opposite direction, leaving the trail. In fact, there wasn't anybody behind them going in the same direction they were. It seemed like they had the whole trail to themselves.

"Why is everyone leaving?" asked Taehyung, jogging to catch up to Jungkook. 

Jungkook stopped with his camera out, a large DSLR. He took a photo of the sky behind the trees. "Well, it's not that popular at night. People would rather go into the city and party or drink. There aren't a lot of people here that enjoy the little things, you know? That's why I take advantage of it." He took another photo and looked at Taehyung. "You can't see much at night, either."

"I'm not walking into my own death, am I?" joked Taehyung as they continued next to each other on the trail.

Jungkook smirked and laced his fingers through Taehyung's. "I would never take my victims to somewhere beautiful. I prefer a warehouse."

Taehyung just laughed and looked down at their hands. He watched as Jungkook's thumb consciously stroked his skin. Sometimes, he'd give a little squeeze. The things this boy made him feel was too hard to describe. It was terrifying and amazing at the same time. He didn't know how else to handle it, though. He only knew Jungkook for such a short amount of time, but he never wanted to let go of his hand. He never wanted to be without him. When he went to sleep, he thought of his body next to his. Cuddling, kissing, more

It brought him back to the party and he started to feel like a jerk again for forcing himself on Jungkook. He had been incredibly stupid to take that drug, but it was his first party. He didn't know what was normal in America. At that moment, taking the drug seemed normal. But according to Jungkook's recollection, it wasn't normal. Bits and pieces had been coming back to him all day though, which just made it all worse. 

"I'm sorry again. For last night," he told him. He was looking down at his feet, not noticing the direction they were going.

Jungkook didn't respond, but he stopped walking. He let go of Taehyung's hand, leaving him with a feeling of emptiness. He stood in front of Taehyung, blocking his view of everything else. Jungkook just smiled at him and said, "Close your eyes."

"What?"

"Trust me."

Taehyung closed his eyes and felt Jungkook's hands hold his own. He led Taehyung somewhere and, suddenly, he was taking shaky steps on to some rocks. He could hear water, much louder than before. He could hear crickets, frogs and a few birds. It sounded like a different world. He took a few more steps and he seemed to be getting higher. He gasped and clutched Jungkook's hands tightly, wanting him to stop. He felt like he was going to high.

Jungkook brought his hands up and kissed his skin. "Shh. You're okay. I've got you. You're not going to get hurt."

His words and touch brought comfort. He took a few more steps and then Jungkook told him to stop. He let go of his hands and then he heard, "Okay. Open."

Taehyung opened his eyes and gasped as he looked around. He was standing on top of rocks, staring straight at a beautiful waterfall. There were larger rocks surrounding it, trees, bushes and beautiful flowers. He spied a few frogs hopping around, dragonflies flitting about and birds traveling between the trees. Better yet, the sun was about to set. It was lower in the sky now and the light hit the water perfectly, giving Taehyung a sparkling view below. The sky above was starting to get a purple shade. It was honestly all beautiful. 

He looked over at Jungkook, who was busy taking photos of him at the waterfall. Jungkook caught his stare and slowly lowered the camera. They were caught in each other's gaze and he watched as Jungkook's Adam's apple bobbed up and down with a gulp. 

"Close your eyes for me," he asked, his voice cracking a bit. 

Taehyung nodded and closed his eyes. He tilted his head back and felt the sun on his skin as it seemed to get lower and lower. He imagined the purple overtaking the blue sky, soon mixing with the pinks and reds of a sunset. He could hear the clicks of the camera.

"You really shouldn't apologize for last night," said Jungkook. 

Taehyung kept his eyes closed, but he listened. All he heard were Jungkook's words. 

"Last night doesn't change the way I feel about you." More clicks. "Hold your arms out for me. Keep it natural."

Taehyung did as he was told and, when his arms spread out, he felt like he was flying, like he could fly into the sunset and disappear forever. He could disappear with Jungkook.

"Beautiful," he heard Jungkook whisper. 

Taehyung's heart pounded.

Jungkook cleared his throat. "I did expect last night to go differently then it did, but I don't regret taking care of you. Since meeting you, I want nothing more than to take care of you and make you happy." A pause. "I want to make you mine."

Taehyung was so enraptured with Jungkook's words that he didn't even notice the camera had stopped clicking. He didn't hear Jungkook's footsteps. However, with his arms still stretched out and his eyes still closed, he felt Jungkook's hands touch his own. He laced their fingers back together as Taehyung's arms were brought down to his sides. Jungkook kept a hold of his hands.

"Keep your eyes closed," he whispered.

Taehyung was trembling. He could feel Jungkook's presence getting closer and closer. The closer he got, the more he could feel his breath on his face. It took a moment, but he felt it. Taehyung gasped in surprise as he felt Jungkook's lips touch his own. Jungkook stopped, but Taehyung nodded, letting him know it was okay to keep going. It was definitely okay.

Taehyung returned the kiss and it was even better than his dream. Jungkook's lips were slim and soft, matching his pouty pillows. The kiss was soft and sweet, the rhythm slow as they matched each other's movements beat for beat. He could hear Jungkook's breathing pick up pace until he slowly pulled away. He let go of his hands and Taehyung kept his eyes closed for a few more minutes before opening them, meeting such a powerful look in Jungkook's eyes. The intensity behind his eyes made him even more nervous than before. It all seemed unreal.

"I'm sorry," said Jungkook, his voice rough. "I've been wanting to do that since I met you. I couldn't hold myself back much longer."

Taehyung didn't know what to think. What if this was another dream? He actually pinched his arm to make sure and Jungkook chuckled at the action, his nose scrunching up adorably. 

"Am I dreaming? I was dreaming last time," said Taehyung.

Jungkook stepped back up to him and stroked his cheek, his thumb slowly moving across his bottom lip. He wasn't going to lie. The action alone was turning Taehyung on. 

"No, you're not dreaming. I'm real. You're real." Jungkook pressed a chaste kiss to his lips. "This is real."

"This is real," he repeated. This was his moment. Their moment.

Taehyung gripped Jungkook's shirt between his fingers and brought him back in, his lips pressing against his. It was another sweet kiss, but different from Jungkook's. Taehyung moved a bit faster as a shot of adrenaline pumped through his veins. Jungkook's hands went around him, pressing into his back and keeping their bodies flush against each other. He licked the bottom of Taehyung's mouth, asking for permission. Taehyung opened his mouth and met his tongue with a fiery force. He couldn't seem to stop. He wanted to kiss him to the ends of the earth. The longer he kissed him, the more turned on he got. 

What made this moment even better was the privacy. There was nobody around. It was just the two of them, hands roaming and breaths mixing together.

Behind them, as the sun set, the sky turned purple with love.