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take an inch (i’ll give you a mile)

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It’s only 11pm, but Hoseok’s backyard already looks like some sort of frat party-themed wasteland. There are red solo cups and empty beer cans strewn everywhere, couples making out in the bushes and against the garage, and a couple of bros (including Hoseok himself) shotgunning beer out of one of those foam pool noodles. The wooden slats of the back porch are sticky beneath Taehyung’s feet, drenched with spills from the ongoing beer pong tournament and jungle juice leaking out of the two massive, orange coolers Hoseok had set up earlier.

To be honest, Taehyung isn’t sure if he missed house parties all that much, although he has to admit the jungle juice is damn tasty.

It’s the first official weekend of summer, and all of the returning (or, in Taehyung’s case, recently graduated) college students in town have flocked together in an effort to party as hard as they do when they’re away at school. Hoseok is already a full year out, but his parents are out of town this weekend, and general consensus is that he can always be counted on to throw the best parties anyway. Social butterfly that he is, it hadn’t taken much convincing to get him to agree.

Taehyung hasn’t actually been to one of Hoseok’s legendary parties in years, having spent the past two summers at school - once to take some extra classes after he decided to pick up user experience design as his minor, and once to do an on-campus internship with one of his professors. He’d gotten so used to his life at school that it’s a little jarring to be back in his suburban hometown indefinitely, living in his parents’ house and with no clear plans for the future.

But it’s fine, really. One more cup of jungle juice and Taehyung won’t even remember he’s on the brink of a post-graduate existential crisis.

“Holy shit, is that Jeon Jeongguk?” Jimin says, interrupting Taehyung’s increasingly depressing thought process. He’s leaning back against the porch railing beside Taehyung, looking full frat star in a loose tank top and backwards baseball cap, plastic cup poised halfway to his lips.

This is one good thing about being home, at least - Taehyung gets to spend some quality time with his best friend.

Taehyung follows his gaze and his eyes land on a boy standing at the far end of the pong table, one nicely muscled arm raised as he sends a ping pong ball flying neatly into the cup across from him. It’s the last cup, and when the ball sinks, he and his teammate - Namjin, maybe? - erupt in cheers, clapping each other on the back. It might have come off as douchey were it not for the fact that the boy bears a striking resemblance to a bunny rabbit when he smiles, and his partner has a set of dimples deeper than the Grand Canyon.

Now that Jimin has pointed him out, he does look familiar, although it would have taken Taehyung a while to identify him as Jeon Jeongguk. The Jeongguk that Taehyung remembers was scrawny and baby-faced, cute and athletic but nothing like the sexy, toned man now standing before him. Jeon Jeongguk grew up, it seems, and he grew up fucking hot.

“Damn,” Taehyung says, too impressed to care if he’s staring shamelessly. “Someone had a glow up.”

Jimin snorts. “He had such a crush on you in high school.”

Taehyung lets out a laugh of disbelief, shaking his head. “What? No he didn’t, he barely spoke.”

“Exactly,” Jimin says, smug. “He was too nervous to talk to you. Or around you, really.”

Taehyung frowns, looking from Jimin to Jeongguk, who is now refilling his cup at the keg behind the pong table. He really doesn’t have many memories of Jeongguk from high school, other than that he was painfully shy and seemed to be naturally good at just about everything. Jeongguk was two years younger than Taehyung and Jimin, so they didn’t overlap with him much outside of baseball and theater rehearsals. It had certainly never occurred to Taehyung that Jeongguk had a crush on him, although to be fair he did kind of have his head up his own ass for most of junior and senior year.

“I’ve never understood that,” Taehyung says, still skeptical. “If he really liked me, he would have just talked to me.”

“We can’t all be as charming and carefree as you, Tae,” Jimin teases, rolling his eyes. “Some people get shy.”

“Carefree” definitely isn’t the word Taehyung would use to describe this current stage in his life, but he keeps that thought to himself.

“Let’s see if he’s gotten any chattier,” Jimin says, mischief twinkling in his eyes. He always looks vaguely evil when he’s up to something, and Taehyung would probably find it alarming if he didn’t recognize that same quality in himself.

“Jimin - ” he protests, not particularly in the mood for an awkward encounter with their old classmate.

But it’s too late, Jimin is already lifting an arm over his head and waving Jeongguk over. “Jeongguk! Hey!”

Jeongguk looks up at the sound of his name, smiling when he recognizes Jimin. Then his gaze slides over to Taehyung, and his eyes widen slightly. Taehyung can’t help but notice that he has big eyes to begin with, round and disarmingly doe-like. It’s an odd but charming contrast to the sharp line of his jaw, making him look at once striking and sweet.

Not that Taehyung is staring, or anything.

Jeongguk makes his way over to them, and okay, maybe Taehyung is staring a little, but Jeongguk got really fucking hot, okay? There’s something so masculine about the way he carries himself now, with just a hint of cockiness, and yeah - yeah, Taehyung is into it.

“Hey, Jimin,” Jeongguk greets as he skirts around the pong table and walks up to them. “How’s it going, man?”

“Good, good,” Jimin says, smiling like the cat who got the cream. Taehyung can see what’s coming and internally braces himself. “You remember Tae, right?”

“Yeah, of course,” Jeongguk nods, glancing over at Taehyung and smiling shyly. He’s even more dazzling up close, something endearing about him that Taehyung can’t quite put his finger on. “Good to see you, Taehyung.”

“Long time no see,” Taehyung replies, grinning at him. “Nice shot just now.”

“Oh, thanks,” Jeongguk says, looking pleased. It’s hard to say for sure in the washed out porch lighting, but Taehyung thinks his ears might go a little pink. Cute. “I’ve been getting too much practice, honestly.”

This makes Taehyung laugh, and Jeongguk smiles that cute little bunny smile again.

“Are you guys home for the summer?” he asks.

“Just graduated,” Jimin supplies. “So, home until we figure our lives out.”

“Oh, shit, congratulations,” Jeongguk says, and Taehyung finds himself feeling envious that Jeongguk still has a few years of school left. “And good luck, I guess?”

“Thanks,” Taehyung says ruefully. “We need it.”

Jeongguk’s beer pong partner appears behind him then, clapping him on the shoulder. “Hey, Guk, ready for another round?” He lifts a hand in greeting to Taehyung and Jimin, his dimples seemingly appearing out of nowhere when he smiles at them. “Hey, guys.”

“Do you guys know Namjoon?” Jeongguk asks. “He was Hobi’s year.”

“Thought you looked familiar,” Jimin nods. “Hey, dude.”

“What’s up,” Namjoon says. “Sorry to steal Guk away, but we have a table to defend and I need my star player.”

“Understandable,” Taehyung nods, a little bummed to have their conversation cut short. He had been enjoying tracing the lines of Jeongguk’s features up close. “Go get ‘em.”

“I’ll see you guys around,” Jeongguk says, backing away and maybe looking just a bit disappointed himself.

Jeongguk and Namjoon stay on the table for a good chunk of the night, so Taehyung unfortunately doesn’t get much of an opportunity to talk to him again. He lingers on the porch with Jimin instead, chatting with Hoseok and other old friends as they filter through. Their position also gives him the opportunity to continue to creep on Jeongguk, occasionally sneaking glances to admire the way his arms flex or how cute he looks when he’s focusing on a shot, tongue poking out from between his teeth.

At one point in the night, a rogue ball from the opposing team comes sailing across the table, totally bypassing Jeongguk and Namjoon. Taehyung’s old baseball instincts kick in and he catches it with one hand, just as surprised as everyone else when he looks down and finds the small ball resting in his palm.

“Nice catch,” Jeongguk says, grinning at him and reaching out to take the ball. Taehyung makes sure to let their fingers brush as he passes it off, eyes roving deliberately over Jeongguk’s body.

“Nice form,” he replies with a wink.

Taehyung definitely isn’t imagining it this time - Jeongguk’s ears go pink.

***

The following Monday morning, Taehyung is unceremoniously jolted into consciousness by a banging noise so loud it sounds like it’s being blared from a loudspeaker directly into his ear. He jerks upright, blinking around groggily until he determines that the source of the noise is actually outside, not in his bedroom. More unfortunately, the noise persists, punctuated by occasional clangs and thuds, and Taehyung groans, dropping back down and dragging a pillow over his head.

“What the fuck,” he grumbles, fumbling around for his phone when the pillow does little to dull the cacophony. “What the fuck,” he says again, when the lock screen reveals that it’s 7:30 AM.

What kind of hellspawn makes this much noise at 7:30 in the fucking morning? And more importantly, why have they chosen to do so directly outside of Taehyung’s home, and on his first day of work, no less? Is this some kind of cosmic mockery for having to move back in with his parents after graduation?

When it becomes apparent that he won’t be getting anymore sleep this morning, he rips the blankets back and leaps out of bed indignantly, ready to give whoever is responsible for this a piece of his mind. Some people have important things to do today, he thinks furiously. Some people went to bed too late because they were watching anime and need every last second of sleep they can get before doing said important things.

Muttering to himself, he stumbles downstairs, making his way to the back of the house, where the noise seems to be coming from. The house itself is silent, his parents having already left for work, and somehow that makes Taehyung even more enraged when he thinks of all the undisturbed sleep he could have been getting. The only silver lining he can see here is that he’s not hungover this morning like he had been after Hoseok’s party - he thinks his skull might have actually cracked open if he’d had to listen to this bullshit with a headache.

Their kitchen faces the backyard, a big set of glass-paneled double doors opening out onto a patio elevated slightly above the lawn. The morning light is still gentle, painting the room in pale hues that would probably make Taehyung feel peaceful if he weren’t ready to Kill A Bitch. Or bitches plural, maybe - he can see multiple figures moving around beyond the glass.

Yanking the door open, he steps out on to the patio, blinking in the unfiltered daylight as he prepares to raise his voice. “Excuse m- ”

“Taehyung?”

His tirade is cut short by a voice to his left, and Taehyung whips his head around, surprised. And oh -

Oh, sweet fucking hell.

Lord have mercy on his fucking soul.

Because there, standing on the grass just beside the patio, biceps positively bulging under the load he’s carrying, is Jeon Jeongguk. Hot, grown-ass Jeon Jeongguk, looking like every one of Taehyung’s fantasies come to life, is here, in Taehyung’s backyard.

“Jeongguk?” Taehyung says, confused. Is he dreaming? If he is, please, God, let it be a sex one.

“Hey,” Jeongguk replies, looking inordinately pleased that Taehyung remembers his name.

“What are you doing here?” Taehyung asks, wincing as another loud bang echoes through the yard.

“I’m working for Namjoon’s dad this summer,” Jeongguk explains, shifting the stack of stones in his arms in a way that sets his muscles rippling. Taehyung swallows. “His crew is re-landscaping your parents’ yard and putting in a pool?”

Oh, fuck. Taehyung’s mom had definitely told him about this, he remembers because he made a snarky comment about how it didn’t make sense to install a pool in the middle of the summer. In the midst of finals, graduation, and his ensuing existential crisis, though, it had totally slipped his mind.

“Shit, that’s right,” Taehyung says, suddenly grateful that Jeongguk had cut him off before he said anything rude. “Guess I should listen to my mom more.”

Jeongguk laughs, showing off his cute bunny teeth, and it’s such a sharp contrast to his sex god body that Taehyung feels thrown off balance. “I have that same problem.”

Namjoon walks over then, taking some of the stones from Jeongguk and nodding at Taehyung. “Hey, Taehyung. Sorry if we woke you.”

Taehyung glances down at himself, suddenly wishing he’d reconsidered his decision to come outside dressed in a T-shirt covered with little red hearts. He can only imagine what his hair looks like right now, probably half flattened and half tufted up in all the wrong places. At least he’d had the foresight to put gym shorts on.

“No worries,” Taehyung responds, thinking he’d happily wake up this early every morning for the chance to stare at Jeongguk some more. “First day of work today, so it’s probably good to get an early start.”

“Oh nice, what are you doing?” Jeongguk asks. Taehyung briefly wonders how his arms haven’t started cramping from holding a literal pile of rocks.

“I’m redoing the town website,” Taehyung tells them, feeling vaguely embarrassed. It’s the lamest job ever, but he needs the money and at least the work is related to his degree. “Design and coding.”

Jeongguk, bless him, seems to find this fascinating, eyes going round. “Really? That’s so cool!”

Taehyung shrugs, but he can’t help but smile a little at Jeongguk’s reaction. “Thanks. I’m working from home, so if you guys need water or like - air conditioning, just let me know.”

They both laugh at this, thanking him, and Taehyung reluctantly heads back inside to get ready. There’s no office for him to go to, so it’s not like he needs to dress up, but if Jeongguk is going to be hanging around he wants to at least change out of his embarrassing pajamas. And that’s when it dawns on him - Jeongguk is going to be here, in Taehyung’s backyard, most days for at least the next month. And Taehyung will also be here, building his website and likely ogling Jeongguk through the window like some sort of creepy old man. He’s not confident in how long his sanity or dignity will hold up against this onslaught of hormones.

It’s going to be a long, horny summer.

***

When Taehyung was but a wee freshman, stumbling naively (and often hungover) through his first semester of college classes, he had no idea what he wanted his major to be. He had participated in (and loved) theater in high school, but he didn’t particularly want to be an actor and besides, he knew his parents wouldn’t approve of such an unstable career path. Same went for art, although he compromised on that by taking as many art electives as possible.

Computer programming had been his mom’s idea - he liked computers, and after years of gaming, he was pretty good with them too. The classes were interesting enough, if not completely captivating, and his parents were happy that he was doing something that could land him a good job after graduating (ha). The best part, though, was that it introduced him to the world of web and game design, which allowed him to take what he was learning and get a little more creative. In sophomore year, he officially decided to make UX design his minor, gladly spending the following summer catching up on credits in hopes that he would someday be taken seriously as more than just a programmer.

As it turns out, none of the jobs he’d applied to took him seriously as a designer or a programmer, but that’s neither here nor there.

The job working for the town is good in that it at least allows him to use his degree, and they’ve given him pretty free reign over the design as long as all of the content they want is included. It’s bad in that it doesn’t pay enough for him to be living anywhere other than at home with his parents, which he had been determined not to do after graduating - he’d dreamed of moving to New York, even if it meant he had to live in an apartment the size of a postage stamp and sustain himself on microwaveable ramen noodles. All he can hope is that he does a good enough job with this website to eventually make employers in New York take notice.

Taehyung ponders all of this while he takes a shower (during which he certainly does not jerk off to the thought of Jeon Jeongguk and his biceps) and gets dressed, leaving his hair to air dry as he pads back downstairs to make some coffee. It’s an earlier start than he had planned on, given that he has no commute and no set hours, but he ends up using the time to get set up in his dad’s home office, which his parents have agreed to let him use for the summer. This way, he can have access to his laptop and a desktop monitor, both of which are more current than anything the town could have provided him with. He’d initially been disappointed when he heard the town council didn’t have any space for him in their office, afraid he’d go stir crazy sitting home alone all day, but now that one Jeon Jeongguk has appeared in his backyard, he’s starting to think it won’t be so bad.

It doesn’t hurt that his dad’s office has a direct view of the backyard, either.

Except, okay, maybe it does hurt when it comes to Taehyung’s actual job. Because now it’s nearly noon and he hasn’t been able to go more than five minutes working without sneaking a furtive glance out the window. He’s just curious about the progress they’re making, honestly. Nothing wrong with a little healthy curiosity. And if he just so happens to catch a glimpse of Jeongguk bending over (that ass, tho) or wiping the sweat from his brow, well, that’s fine too.

It’s when he looks up and sees Jeongguk emptying his water bottle over his own head, whipping his wet hair out of his eyes like some sort of god of the ocean, that Taehyung fully loses it. In a moment of desperation, he grabs his phone and calls Jimin, resisting the urge to press his face to the window pane and full-on stare.

“Yo,” comes Jimin’s greeting when he answers the phone.

“Jimin, I’m dying,” Taehyung replies.

“You’ve only been working for half a day, Tae, don’t you think you’re being a little dram- ”

“Jeon Jeongguk is in my backyard,” Taehyung hisses, cutting him off. “He’s in my backyard and he’s sweaty and wet and I’m going to die - ”

“What the hell is Jeon Jeongguk doing in your backyard?” Jimin asks. It sounds like he’s eating, Taehyung can hearing the chewing sounds through the phone, and he would be grossed out but he’s done that to Jimin too many times to reasonably take issue with it now.

“He’s working for Namjoon’s dad, they’re putting a pool in,” Taehyung explains, watching as Jeongguk runs a hand through the wet strands of hair, pushing them back from his forehead. Fuck, he has a nice forehead.

“Really?” Jimin replies, surprised. “I could have sworn he said he was working on a different project this summer.”

“Well, he’s here,” Taehyung says, vaguely hysterical. “And he’s so fucking hot, like so hot it makes me want to cry a little, and my poor dick, Chim. It wasn’t prepared for this.”

“Ew, don’t talk to me about your dick.”

“You love my dick - ”

“That was one time - ”

“Can we focus on the matter at hand, please?” Taehyung interrupts, voice shrill. “How I am supposed to handle this?”

“Well, you should probably do your own job and let him do his,” Jimin says reasonably.

Taehyung scoffs. “Don’t be ridiculous, Jimin.”

He can practically hear Jimin rolling his eyes through the phone. “But, he did used to be into you, so if you went for it, you might get lucky.”

“But he’s so hot now,” Taehyung says, frowning.

“So are you, Tae,” Jimin says exasperatedly. “You’re way hotter than you were in high school, and less of an idiot, too.”

“Gee, thanks.”

“Just try talking to h- ”

“Oh my god, he’s walking towards the house.”

“What?”

“He’s walking towards the house!” Taehyung whisper screams into the phone, eyes following Jeongguk as he crosses the yard and starts climbing the steps to the patio. “Fuck, I have to go, bye.”

He catches the beginning of Jimin’s disgruntled noise of surprise before he’s ending the call and skidding into the kitchen, arriving just as Jeongguk peers through the double doors. When he spots Taehyung, he grins and gives him a little wave, holding up his now empty water bottle.

“Hey,” Taehyung says, opening the door for him and doing his best to act relaxed and composed.

“Hey,” Jeongguk replies. His hair is darker from the water, and it somehow makes his eyes look more intense. Taehyung is so, so fucked. “Mind if I refill my water bottle?”

“Of course,” Taehyung says, stepping back to let him inside. He guides Jeongguk over to the sink, flipping on the tap that supplies filtered water. “How’s it going?”

“Good, just hot as fuck,” Jeongguk tells him, sliding his water bottle under the stream. Yes, hot as fuck is also how Taehyung would have described the work Jeongguk is doing. “It feels amazing in here.”

“You’re welcome to come cool down whenever you like,” Taehyung offers. In truth, Taehyung himself might be the one who needs to cool down.

“Namjoon’s dad might kill me if he catches me slacking,” Jeongguk says ruefully. “But thanks.”

“Well, your secret’s safe with me.”

“Thanks, Taehyung,” Jeongguk smiles, opening the door to the patio and stepping back outside. A wall of heat hits them, and Taehyung winces. “I gotta get back to work but... I’ll see you?”

“See you,” Taehyung nods, trying not to pout as he closes the door and watches Jeongguk retreat back down to the yard. As he walks back to his dad’s office, he checks his phone and finds a series of irritated texts from Jimin.

From: Chimmy
okay rude
ever heard of bros before hoes
not that jeongguk is a ho
are you guys touching dicks yet
it’s cute seeing you this despo

Taehyung sends him several middle finger emojis in a row and slumps back in the office chair with a groan.

***

The rest of the week passes in a similar fashion, with Taehyung alternately working on preliminary designs for the website and drooling over Jeongguk. He comes into the house at least once a day to refill his water bottle, and Taehyung always makes sure to situate himself in the kitchen when that happens. Jeongguk is still shy, Taehyung can tell, although he’s come a long way from the essentially silent teenager of their high school years. He always seems eager to talk to Taehyung, even if it’s just stupid small talk, and Taehyung chooses to take that as a good sign.

On Friday, Taehyung is in the kitchen fixing himself a sandwich when he spots Jeongguk out in the yard, seemingly alone as he unpacks his own lunch. Taehyung does a bit more scoping, confirming that there is in fact no one else around, before he steps out on to the patio and approaches Jeongguk.

“What happened to everyone else?” he asks, peering down at the younger boy. He’s tucked into a tiny patch of shade next to the patio, and Taehyung is overly endeared by his cute brown paper bag lunch.

“They all went out to buy lunch,” Jeongguk explains. “But I’m kinda trying to save money, so brown bag it is.”

“Good for you,” Taehyung says, impressed. “Do you want to come eat inside? I was just making myself some lunch too.”

Jeongguk blinks up at him, wide-eyed and clearly surprised. “Oh, I don’t want to intrude - ”

“It’s not intruding,” Taehyung insists, waving off his protests. “It would be nice to have some company.”

Jeongguk looks down at his sandwich and then back up at Taehyung, still looking adorably taken aback. “Okay,” he says eventually, standing up. “Thanks.”

Taehyung beams at him and leads the way back into the kitchen.

“So you said you’re redesigning the town’s website?” Jeongguk asks once they’re settled across from each other at the kitchen table. He has a ham and cheese sandwich and an apple for lunch, and it’s the cutest fucking thing Taehyung has ever seen.

When Taehyung nods in acknowledgement, Jeongguk continues. “What does that involve, exactly?”

“Well, the content is pretty current, but the way the site is laid out and the way it works is really outdated,” Taehyung explains. “So my job is to update the design and the functionality to make it more user friendly. Like, a website that tourists and the people who live here would actually want to check out.”

“That’s so cool,” Jeongguk breathes, clearly impressed. At least one of them finds Taehyung’s job interesting. “And you like - can code it, too?”

“Yeah,” Taehyung says, shrugging. “Right now I’m in the design phase, but once I figure that out I’ll write all the code as well. I am - was - a computer science major.”

“Damn,” Jeongguk says. “You must be like, really smart.”

Taehyung snorts, although he can’t help but feel a little flattered. “Not smart enough to get a job in New York, apparently.”

Jeongguk’s attention seems to perk even further at this. “You want to be in New York?”

“That’s the dream,” Taehyung says wistfully.

“Well, if anyone can do it, you can,” Jeongguk says, then promptly flushes when Taehyung looks at him in surprise. “I mean - ”

“Thanks,” Taehyung cuts him off, smiling. “That’s really nice.”

Jeongguk offers him a shy smile in return and takes a large bite of his sandwich, cheeks still pink.

“So what about you?” Taehyung asks. “What have you been up to?”

“I’ve been at the community college for the past two years,” Jeongguk tells him. “To get my core credits out of the way and save money. But actually... I applied to transfer to NYU in the fall.”

“Seriously?” Taehyung asks, intrigued. “That’s amazing, what do you want to study?”

“I want to do film,” he says shyly. “There’s like, one class for that at the community college, but I do a lot on my own too.”

“So you make videos and stuff?”

Jeongguk nods, looking faintly embarrassed. “Yeah, I mean they’re nothing too fancy, but - I really like it.”

“That’s really awesome,” Taehyung says enthusiastically, and Jeongguk’s face lights up. “When do you hear from NYU?”

“Apparently they keep accepting people right up until a few weeks before the term starts,” Jeongguk explains. “I already got into the state university, so that’s my backup, but NYU’s film program is way better.”

“I hope you get in,” Taehyung says sincerely.

“I just really want to get out of here, you know?” Jeongguk continues, seemingly emboldened by Taehyung’s response. “I mean, I love my friends, and my parents obviously, but I just feel kind of... stuck.”

“I totally get it,” Taehyung says, nodding vigorously. “I mean, I didn’t feel that way at school, but now that I’m back here I’m so restless. It’s like I’m stuck in this holding pattern waiting for my life to actually start.”

“Yes! That, exactly that.”

“Well, at least we’re not alone,” Taehyung says, and the sentiment gives him an odd sense of comfort. It doesn’t solve anything, but it’s nice to know that someone else understands how he’s feeling, maybe even feels it more acutely than he does - he can’t imagine what it would have been like to be stuck living at home for his first two years of college. “And hopefully we both make it to New York at the end of the summer.”

“Cheers to that,” Jeongguk says, lifting his water bottle. Taehyung laughs and taps it with his own glass of lemonade.

There’s the sound of a car door slamming out front, followed by several male voices, and Jeongguk sighs. “Guess that’s my cue to go,” he announces, gathering his things and standing up. “Thanks for inviting me to eat with you.”

“Thanks for keeping me company,” Taehyung replies earnestly. “You should come in any time you’re on your own for lunch.”

Privately, he hopes that will be often.

Jeongguk looks slightly overwhelmed by this offer, but pleased nonetheless. “Okay,” he agrees, grinning toothily.

“Do you want to fill that up before you go back out?” Taehyung asks, gesturing at his half-empty water bottle.

Jeongguk glances down at it and then back to Taehyung. “Nah - if I fill it up now, I won’t have an excuse to come back in and talk to you later.”

Taehyung is probably more thrilled by this response than is reasonable or appropriate, but he really likes talking to Jeongguk, okay? Sue him.

“Clever,” he says, grinning appreciatively. “I’ll look forward to it.”

Jeongguk gives him one last, shy smile before disappearing back out the door.

***

“So what you’re telling me is, in addition to being thirsty for his dick, you’re now thirsty for his heart as well?” Jimin says, examining Taehyung over the lip of his beer. They’re at one of the few bars downtown, celebrating the end of the work week with a round of half-priced happy hour drinks.

Taehyung groans, nodding. “I have a heart boner for him. He’s so cute, Chim, I can’t help it.”

It’s been a week since Taehyung first had lunch with Jeongguk, and since then they’ve eaten together twice more, on top of their little conversations when Jeongguk comes inside to refill his water. He’s surprised by how much he and Jeongguk actually have in common - beyond the New York thing, they both love drawing, video games, anime, and baseball, just to name a few. Jeongguk is still shy around him, but with a bit of coaxing he’s actually really easy to talk to, not to mention surprisingly funny. And he’s always so interested in what Taehyung has to say, watching him with those big doe eyes like he’s hanging on to every word.

“Oh, how the turntables,” Jimin teases, and Taehyung glares at him. “Come on, it is pretty ironic that you now have a crush on the guy who was crushed out on you for half of high school.”

“I’m glad you find my suffering ironic,” Taehyung grumbles, sipping on his beer.

Jimin rolls his eyes. “You’re not suffering, you get to see him every day and it seems like he’s probably into you too.”

Taehyung perks up at this. “You think?”

“I mean, if he’s taking every chance he can get to talk to you, I would say so, yeah.”

“Maybe he just wants to be friends,” Taehyung says doubtfully, pouting at the thought. “It’s not like he’s asked me out, or anything.”

“Well first of all, it’s been two weeks, so chill,” Jimin says pointedly. “Second of all, you basically ignored him for two years in high school, so he’s probably still insecure about that. And third, he’s literally working for your parents; he might feel like it would be out of line to make a move on you.”

Taehyung blinks at him. “So basically you’re saying it’s never gonna happen.”

No, I’m saying the ball is in your court, Tae,” Jimin explains, looking at Taehyung like he’s some kind of idiot. “I think you’re gonna have to make the first move.”

Taehyung considers this. He’s asked plenty of people out in the past, although it’s been a while since he was seriously interested in someone. The prospect of asking Jeongguk out makes him nervous, though, especially because he’ll still have to see Jeongguk every day if he says no. But somehow the prospect of not making a move, of seeing Jeongguk every day and knowing he never even tried, is even more intolerable.

“You know, Jiminie,” he says, lifting his beer and clinking it with Jimin’s. “That’s not a bad idea.”

The following week sees Taehyung return to his usual routine with Jeongguk, catching a few minutes of conversation here and there when their paths cross. They have lunch together on Tuesday, but they get so engrossed in a conversation about their favorite K-pop artists that Jeongguk is traipsing back outside before Taehyung has the chance to ask him out. And okay, maybe he chickens out a little, too - but Jeongguk is just so fucking hot and cute at the same time, and it consistently makes Taehyung feel out of his element.

Thursday dawns particularly hot and muggy, the sun beating down mercilessly from very early in the day. Taehyung feels bad for Jeongguk and the others as he observes them from the office window, although he can’t say he minds how frequently Jeongguk lifts up his shirt to wipe the sweat off his face. As a kind, friendly gesture and not at all a ploy to get close to his crush’s abs, he decides to prepare an ice cold pitcher of lemonade to share with the crew - his e-mail to the town council about button styling can wait.

Taehyung feels like a roasting potato the second he steps outside, the sun scorching as he crosses the lawn with the lemonade and a stack of paper cups. The crew perks up immediately, all of them crowding around Taehyung and thanking him profusely as they fill up their cups. Jeongguk lingers close to him as they all take a short break, holding a hand up to shield his eyes from the sun as he talks to Taehyung.

“Jeez, do you have a hat or something?” Taehyung says, taking in Jeongguk’s reddened face. “You look like you’re burning up.”

Jeongguk frowns, shaking his head. “Forgot it today, typical.”

“I’ll loan you one of mine,” Taehyung offers, suddenly possessed with the need to take care of Jeongguk.

“Oh, hyung, you don’t have to do that,” Jeongguk protests, and wow, who knew that hearing Jeongguk refer to him as “hyung” would go straight to his dick? “I don’t want to get it all sweaty.”

“Don’t be ridiculous, it’s a hat,” Taehyung says, waving him off. “You’ll fry without it, come on.”

Jeongguk follows him reluctantly, waiting in the kitchen while Taehyung rushes upstairs and gets him a New York Mets cap - he thinks Jeongguk will appreciate that, and he’s right, if Jeongguk’s big grin when he sees it is anything to go by.

“Nice choice,” Jeongguk says, taking the hat gratefully. It looks unfairly good on him, not that Taehyung is even surprised at this point. “Thanks, Taehyung - I’ll return it before I leave.”

For once, Taehyung is actually too engrossed in his work to notice when the crew starts packing up to leave. It takes a familiar tap on the kitchen door to break him out of his reverie, and Taehyung leaps up, smiling in spite of himself when he sees Jeongguk waiting for him on the other side of the glass. The patio is mostly shadowed now, the harshness of the sun retreating and coloring Jeongguk’s features with the softer light of early dusk.

“I can take this home and wash it,” Jeongguk stammers apologetically as soon as he opens the door. “It’s all sweaty and gross, I’m so- ”

“Oh my god, stop it,” Taehyung says, snatching the hat from him and tossing it on the kitchen table. “I played baseball for four years, remember? I can handle a little hat sweat.”

“Hyung - ”

“Do you want to hang out sometime?” Taehyung asks, effectively cutting him off. He hadn’t meant to ask so abruptly, but it does the trick of shutting Jeongguk up.

His mouth snaps shut, eyes widening in disbelief. “I - what?”

“I was wondering if you wanted to hang out some time,” Taehyung repeats, trying to sound like the cool, casual guy he is. “Like, not while you’re working.”

“I’d love to,” Jeongguk says immediately, ears turning pink. “I mean, uh - that would be cool.”

God, he’s so fucking cute.

“Great,” Taehyung says, beaming at him. His heart does a triumphant little dance in his chest. “Are you free tomorrow night?”

“Tomorrow,” Jeongguk breathes out, seemingly caught somewhere between excitement and alarm. “I am, yeah.”

“Cool,” Taehyung says with a nod. “I’ll see you tomorrow, then.”

“Yeah,” Jeongguk agrees, still looking a bit dazed as he backs away from the door. His reaction is the best thing that’s happened to Taehyung’s ego in a long time. “Umm - ‘night.”

“Night, Jeongguk,” Taehyung calls, trying to suppress a smile. Still, his grin widens as soon as Jeongguk disappears around the side of the house, and it doesn’t leave his face for the rest of the night.

***

The next day is both exhilarating and agonizing. Time seems to quite literally crawl by, each minute dragging despite Taehyung determinedly staring at the clock and willing it to move faster. His stomach tingles with anticipation every time he glances outside and sees Jeongguk, and their daily water refill encounter is basically just a smiley, blushing mess. He barely gets any work done all day, opting instead to stress text Jimin about potential outfit options and date activities.

At the end of the work day (if Taehyung’s day can even be deemed as such), he and Jeongguk touch base briefly, agreeing to meet at the ice cream parlor downtown in a few hours, once Jeongguk has a chance to go home and shower and change. It’s Taehyung’s idea - Jeongguk is still too young to get into bars, and as Taehyung’s mom always says, no one is ever unhappy while they’re eating ice cream. Jeongguk, for his part, still just seems stunned that Taehyung wants to hang out with him.

When Taehyung arrives at the ice cream parlor, Jeongguk is already there, standing outside with his back and one foot propped against the wall. He’s looking down at his phone, probably panicking over whether he got the time and location right, and Taehyung takes a moment just to drink him in. He hasn’t seen Jeongguk dressed in anything other than work clothes since Hoseok’s party, and he looks fine as fuck - a short sleeve button down hanging open over a white t-shirt, and a pair of light wash jeans that hug his thighs a little too perfectly. His hair, usually sweaty and hanging flat over his forehead, is styled and parted, and Taehyung is charmed to think that he put actual effort into his appearance.

In short, Taehyung’s mouth is watering, and it’s not because of the ice cream.

He looks up as Taehyung approaches, a little too slow to mask the relief that flickers across his features when he sees Taehyung. It’s endearing that Jeongguk still seems so in awe of him, so certain that Taehyung is somehow out of his league, although Taehyung will have to work on disabusing him of that notion. He wants Jeongguk to know how great he is, how much Taehyung enjoys his company and how he’s already making Taehyung’s summer so much better than he had expected it to be.

“Hey, Guk,” Taehyung greets him, offering a wide smile. The nickname slips out of its own accord, although Taehyung finds he likes the feel of it on his tongue. Jeongguk seems to like it too, if the way he lights up in response is any indication.

“Hey!” he says in return, pocketing his phone and pushing off from the wall. Taehyung wonders if he’s aware of how sexy he is when he moves, the pure, understated boyishness that seems to imbue his every action. “How’s it going?”

“Really good,” Taehyung replies, choosing to play nice and not bring up that it’s only been two hours since they last saw each other. “You look great.”

Jeongguk flushes nicely at that, ducking his head as he bites down on a pleased smile. “Thanks,” he mutters. His gaze runs over Taehyung, darting around like he’s afraid to get caught lingering in any one place for too long. “So do you.”

“I always look great,” Taehyung teases, winking at him, and Jeongguk huffs out a laugh. “So, ice cream?”

Jeongguk nods and Taehyung leads the way into the parlor, inhaling the sticky-sweet scent of sugar and baking waffle cones contentedly. The inside is unimpressive, walls white and bare save for a mess of brightly colored flyers hung up by the door, advertising a range of summer activities. Taehyung had spent many a bored weekend night here in high school, and very little has changed, from the range of flavors and toppings being offered to the loud buzzing that the milkshake machine makes. A part of him worries that he should have picked somewhere nicer for his first date (if you can call it that) with Jeongguk, but he likes how relaxed and low-key this is.

They peruse the flavors while they wait in line, predictably long for a Friday evening in the summer. Taehyung doesn’t mind, though - he’s happy just to be with Jeongguk, butterflies erupting in his stomach each time their shoulders brush.

“Plain vanilla is too boring for me,” Jeongguk is telling him. “I need mix-ins, or toppings, or something.”

“Vanilla is too boring for me even with mix-ins or toppings,” Taehyung responds. “I need more flavor.”

“Somehow that doesn’t surprise me,” Jeongguk says, and Taehyung grins at him, bumping their shoulders together.

When they reach the front of the line, Taehyung orders a strawberry cone (with sprinkles, obviously) while Jeongguk opts for cookies and cream. Taehyung insists on paying, going so far as to elbow Jeongguk (who is blushing spectacularly) out of the way when he vehemently protests. The girl behind the register gives them a strange look, but Taehyung just throws her a charming smile and leads Jeongguk back outside.

“Thanks, hyung,” Jeongguk mumbles, cheeks still red, and really, really Taehyung is going to need him to stop saying that before he develops a full fledged kink for it.

They wander into a nearby park, doing a lap around the pond while they munch on their ice cream. When they finish, they settle side by side on a bench, looking out over the water and chatting companionably. The heat of the day has ebbed into a more comfortable warmth now that the sun is setting, and the pond is still and tranquil, disturbed only by paddling ducks and a few floating leaves.

“I always thought this would be a great place for a date,” Jeongguk comments, eyes following the progress of one family of ducks. Taehyung’s heart leaps at his choice of words. “It’s so peaceful.”

“So this is a date, then?” Taehyung says teasingly, as if he weren’t the one who asked Jeongguk out in the first place.

Panic drops over Jeongguk’s features so quickly that Taehyung actually feels guilty. “I mean - sorry, I thought - ” he stammers, cheeks flaming once again.

Taehyung reaches out, pressing three fingers over Jeongguk’s mouth to quiet him. “Guk, relax,” he says, watching Jeongguk’s eyes widen. His lips are very soft under Taehyung’s fingers, and Taehyung itches to know what they might feel like against his own. “I’m fucking with you.”

“Oh,” Jeongguk breathes out, gaze tracking Taehyung’s fingers as he pulls them back. He looks bewildered, overwhelmed, and Taehyung can’t help but lean closer, unable to focus on anything but the pink fullness of Jeongguk’s mouth. “So - ”

Jeongguk stops talking a moment before Taehyung’s lips press against his, the kiss gentle, chaste. He seems to register what’s happening just in time, and Taehyung hears the shaky inhale right before their mouths connect, the soft noise of surprise that dies in his throat. His lips part slightly against Taehyung’s, which Taehyung recognizes as a good sign, and he takes advantage of it by sucking lightly on Jeongguk’s plump lower lip. Jeongguk makes another noise at that, one that sounds suspiciously like a whimper, and Taehyung smiles triumphantly, knuckles grazing over Jeongguk’s jaw as he pulls away slightly.

“Definitely a date,” he murmurs, kissing Jeongguk one more time before leaning all the way back.

Jeongguk, for his part, looks completely dumbstruck. “Wow,” he breathes, more to himself than Taehyung. “Wow.”

“Didn’t realize I was such a good kisser,” Taehyung teases, and his voice seems to snap Jeongguk back to reality.

“I - sorry,” Jeongguk says, embarrassed. “I just - I had such a big crush on you in high school, and I never thought you’d notice me, and now - ” he trails off, looking at Taehyung with big, round eyes.

Something in Taehyung’s chest aches for him then, this sweet, soft boy who had harbored feelings he never thought would be reciprocated, who had somehow convinced himself he wasn’t good enough for someone like Taehyung. It’s almost funny, Taehyung thinks, since from where he’s standing, he’s the one lucking out with Jeongguk. Things are different now, they’re meeting as adults, as equals, and Taehyung wants to make sure Jeongguk knows that. This isn’t just a one-sided crush anymore.

“Consider yourself noticed, Jeonggukkie,” Taehyung says softly, nudging the underside of Jeongguk’s chin. He looks so hopeful and Taehyung is going to die. “Sorry it took me so long.”

“Did you know?” Jeongguk asks. There’s a small mole directly beneath his lower lip that Taehyung would very much like to become better acquainted with.

“Not at the time,” Taehyung answers truthfully, shaking his head. “But Jimin may have um... let it slip when we saw you at Hoseok’s party.”

Jeongguk’s cheeks are red again, although to be fair, Taehyung’s not sure if they ever really went back to their natural color. “Oh god,” he groans, mortified. “That’s so embarrassing.”

“No it’s not,” Taehyung says adamantly, shifting closer so that their legs press together. “I think it’s cute.”

Jeongguk huffs, looking skeptical. “Did you even know who I was in high school?”

“Of course I did!” Taehyung says indignantly. “We did baseball and theater together, I wasn’t that oblivious.” Jeongguk seems slightly mollified by this, and Taehyung takes the opportunity to tease him a little. “Granted, I didn’t know if you actually spoke.”

Jeongguk gives a rueful laugh. “Yeah, I was really shy in high school, especially around you,” he admits, and Taehyung’s heart has some sort of seizure in his chest. “I got more confident senior year, and especially when I went to college. It helped when puberty hit and I stopped looking like a 12 year-old.”

Taehyung snorts. “You definitely do not look like a 12 year-old,” he agrees, giving Jeongguk a blatant once-over and capping it off with a cheeky grin. Jeongguk’s eyes widen, mouth opening and closing like he’s at a loss for words. It is way too fun to mess with him. “You can definitely pass for a solid 16 now.”

“Hey,” Jeongguk pouts, shoving his shoulder, and Taehyung laughs harder.

“Kidding,” Taehyung concedes, hooking his ankle behind Jeongguk’s and swinging their legs out together. “Seriously, though - I’m glad you got less shy. I like talking to you.”

“I like talking to you too,” Jeongguk says earnestly, flashing that bunny-toothed grin, and really, Taehyung is completely done for.

True to their word, they talk for at least another hour, until the sun has fully set and the sky above them has shaded into a dark blue. The park has quieted down around them, streetlights flickering on, only the odd pedestrian passing them now and then. At this point, Jeongguk declares (much to Taehyung’s disbelief) that he’s hungry again, and so they set off in search of the nearest fast food restaurant. Taehyung teases Jeongguk mercilessly the whole time they wait in line, not letting up even as he places his own order for a small fries and a soda.

(Only because it would be straight-up disrespectful to walk into a McDonald’s and not get an order of fries.)

They take their food outside and sit down at a small, foldable table, situated just beyond the rectangle of fluorescent light being cast by the restaurant’s front window. Jeongguk unpacks his food - a fried chicken sandwich and a large fries - from the already greasy bag while Taehyung watches in a mixture of disgust and admiration.

“You’re like a bottomless pit,” he comments, dipping a fry in his little paper cup of ketchup and noting that Jeongguk seems to have a large capacity for fitting things in his mouth.

Interesting.

“I’m always hungry,” Jeongguk informs him, pausing to swallow a bite of his sandwich. “Although to be fair, I do manual labor 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.”

“I’ve noticed,” Taehyung grumbles, not really paying attention to what he’s saying. “I can barely focus on anything else.”

Jeongguk’s attention snaps to him immediately, and Taehyung blanches, realizing he’s given himself away.

Well, fuck.

“You watch me?” Jeongguk asks, sandwich forgotten. His eyes have gone all round and cute again, and fuck, Taehyung is fucked.

“No?” Taehyung tries.

“You totally watch me.”

Taehyung groans in defeat, grateful that it’s at least dark out now so that Jeongguk can’t see his cheeks heating up. “Fine, yes, sometimes,” he admits. “You’re really fucking hot, okay? You’re really hot, and it’s distracting, and sometimes I stare at you instead of doing my website.”

Jeongguk is now regarding him like the cat who got the cream, and Taehyung huffs, stealing one of his fries in retaliation.

“Don’t look so smug about it,” he complains, although smug Jeongguk is kind of hot too.

“You watch me,” Jeongguk repeats dazedly, ignoring Taehyung. “I used to stare at you during baseball - ”

His mouth snaps shut, and he immediately shoves five fries into his mouth, avoiding Taehyung’s eyes.

“What was that, now?” Taehyung presses, unable to suppress a smirk.

“Nothing,” Jeongguk says quickly.

Taehyung decides to let him take the win on this one, so he doesn’t push it - he’s glad to give Jeongguk a confidence boost, even if it’s at his own expense. But still, he stores that little slip of information away as something to come back to in the future.

It’s late by the time they finish up at the fast food restaurant, and Taehyung recognizes it’s probably time for them to head home, even if he doesn’t particularly want to. Neither of them had driven, it being such a nice night out, and since they live on opposite sides of the downtown area, they walk to a midway point to say their goodbyes.

“I had a lot of fun tonight, hyung,” Jeongguk tells him, the two of them standing so close that the tips of their sneakers are practically touching. Around them, the air hums with the familiar summer sound of insects.

“Me too,” Taehyung replies, taking one of Jeongguk’s hands and twining their fingers together. He likes how Jeongguk’s hands feel strong and calloused against his own. “We should do it again like, all the time.”

Jeongguk grins at him, nodding. “I mean, if you insist.”

Taehyung snorts, taking Jeongguk’s hand and bringing it up to rest on his shoulder. Keeping his eyes locked on Jeongguk’s, he leans in, laying one hand on Jeongguk’s hip and cupping his cheek with the other. When their lips meet, Jeongguk tastes like French fries and ketchup, but Taehyung doesn’t care, would spend all night kissing Jeongguk if he was given the choice. Preferably somewhere more private, or horizontal, but - all in good time.

“Goodnight, hyung,” Jeongguk says when they break apart, and Taehyung preens at the way his voice sounds a little breathless. He takes a step back, but Taehyung grabs his wrist, pulling him close again.

“Wait,” he says, pressing another kiss to Jeongguk’s lips even though that hadn’t been his intention. Jeongguk giggles against his mouth and Taehyung discovers what it means to quite literally swoon over someone. “Wait, give me your number so we can text over the weekend.”

“Okay,” Jeongguk agrees, still smiling giddily as they exchange phones.

Obviously, Taehyung saves his number in Jeongguk’s contact list as “Tae” followed by a heart emoji, and Jeongguk rolls his eyes when he sees it.

“I put my actual name in yours,” he frowns, and Taehyung laughs when he looks down and sees the newly created contact for Jeon Jeongguk.

“Wow, surname and everything,” he teases. “Nerd.”

Jeongguk pouts, grabbing for his phone, but Taehyung twists away, holding it out of his reach. “Don’t worry, I’ll fix it.” He edits the contact information quickly, allowing Jeongguk to hover over his shoulder as he deletes his last name and replaces “Jeongguk” with “Guk <333”. With Jeongguk’s mouth right by his ear, he doesn’t miss the way Jeongguk sucks in a breath when he reads it, and Taehyung turns to face him over his shoulder, capturing his lips for one last kiss.

“Goodnight for real this time,” Taehyung murmurs, willing himself to pull away even though he wants nothing more than to lean back agains the warm sturdiness of Jeongguk’s chest. If they don’t stop kissing like this, he’s going to get carried away, and Taehyung likes Jeongguk too much to rush into anything.

“Goodnight,” Jeongguk says, giving him a little wave before he spins around and sets off in the opposite direction.

Like a lovesick idiot, Taehyung watches until the shadows swallow him up, then immediately pulls out his phone and starts typing out a message.

To: Guk <333
you have a cute butt ;)

Ten seconds later, he hears Jeongguk laugh from the opposite end of the block. Taehyung doesn’t stop smiling (or texting Jeongguk) for the whole walk home, or the rest of the weekend after that.

***

For the first time in perhaps forever, Taehyung is happy to wake up on Monday morning. He’s been texting Jeongguk all weekend, but they haven’t seen each other since their date on Friday night, and well - this is embarrassing, but fuck it - Taehyung misses him. He wants to see his cute bunny smile and hear his voice and maybe, if he’s really lucky, sneak in a few kisses.

In short, Taehyung is already whipped as hell, and he honestly doesn’t even care.

By the time he makes it downstairs for breakfast, Jeongguk and the crew are already in his backyard, and he spots Jeongguk immediately. He’s dressed in a baggy t-shirt, cargo shorts, and Timberlands, and it’s not a particularly fashionable look but Taehyung gazes at him dreamily anyway. He wishes he could run outside and say hello, but it’s probably not the best idea to flaunt their budding relationship in front of Jeongguk’s boss and coworkers. He’ll just have to wait for Jeongguk to come to him.

And he does, halfway through the morning, markedly earlier than on most other days - Taehyung usually doesn’t get to talk to Jeongguk until lunch, if the others have gone out to get food, or possibly even the afternoon, when he comes in to refill his water bottle. But right around 11, as Taehyung is puzzling over the mobile design for one of the website’s interior pages, he hears a tap on the kitchen door and soon finds himself face to face with a sweaty, smiling Jeongguk.

“Hey!” he greets, stepping back to let Jeongguk inside and quickly closing the door behind him. “What, did you chug that?” he asks, eyeing Jeongguk’s empty water bottle.

“I may have umm - forgotten to fill it all the way this morning,” Jeongguk says slyly, making his way over to the sink. Taehyung follows him, since the sink is obscured from view in the backyard unless you’re literally standing at the back door.

“Aw, gee,” Taehyung says, playing along. Jeongguk’s shirt is already damp with sweat and clinging to his shoulder blades, and shit, Taehyung wants to be all over that. “How was your weekend?”

“I literally talked to you the whole time, Tae,” Jeongguk laughs, eyebrows shooting up when he turns around from the sink and finds Taehyung standing just a touch closer than is strictly necessary.

“Mm, sounds like a great weekend, then,” Taehyung hums, inching closer. His hands come to rest on the counter on either side of Jeongguk’s body.

Jeongguk laughs, but it comes out a little breathless, his eyes now trained on Taehyung’s mouth. “I umm - I should get back to work - ”

“Kiss before you go?” Taehyung implores, surprising even himself with his boldness. He just can’t think straight around Jeongguk, apparently. “That’s the price for refilling your water bottle.”

“Oh?” Jeongguk asks, chuckling. “Since when?”

“Since I made out with this really cute boy on Friday night,” Taehyung informs him, and Jeongguk blushes, leaning in to press a swift kiss to Taehyung’s lips.

“There,” he breathes, biting his lip in a manner that is entirely too distracting. “I really need to get back to work now, Tae.”

Taehyung sighs, exercising a considerable amount of willpower in pulling himself away from Jeongguk and his cute, kissable mouth. “Come back soon?” he urges, trailing Jeongguk to the door.

Jeongguk groans, shaking his head with one hand on the door handle. “You’re killing me.”

The rest of the week passes in a similar manner, with Taehyung and Jeongguk stealing moments together whenever they can get them. On Wednesday, Taehyung’s parents work late, so Jeongguk sticks around after work and they drink beers together on his patio while the sun sets.

(“I’m not sure how I feel about serving alcohol to a minor,” Taehyung teases, uncapping a bottle and handing it to Jeongguk.

Jeongguk rolls his eyes. “I turn 21 in two months, dickbag.”

“Dickbag,” Taehyung echoes, trying not to laugh. “I liked it better when you were shy.”

Jeongguk throws the bottle cap at him.)

On Thursday, the rest of the crew finally goes out for lunch, and Jeongguk practically bursts through the door the second they leave. He and Taehyung scarf down their lunches, Taehyung trying his hardest to focus on telling Jeongguk about his progress on the website even as their feet tangle together under the table. The second their dishes are set down in the sink, they’re all over each other, Jeongguk gently pressing Taehyung up against the refrigerator door in a way that sends shivers down Taehyung’s spine. He knows Jeongguk has it in him, can feel the want simmering beneath all of his touches - it’s just going to take a little coaxing.

Taehyung runs his palms up Jeongguk’s sides, one hand curling appreciatively around a toned bicep. He’s just so strong, and Taehyung’s not over it, has a lot of ideas about how to show Jeongguk just how much he likes his body. He can’t wait to get him fully alone somewhere, although that’s going to prove difficult given their work schedules and the fact that they both currently live with their parents.

For right now, they’re alone enough, and Taehyung hums in approval when Jeongguk’s fingers skim along his jaw, angling his face up and to the side to get better access to his neck. He leaves a trail of kisses there, so soft that it almost tickles, and Taehyung lets his head drop back against the cool metal of the refrigerator, biting his lip at the sensation.

“Feels good, Guk,” Taehyung breathes out, slipping his fingers into Jeongguk’s hair. Jeongguk responds by skimming his teeth lightly over Taehyung’s neck, and Taehyung gasps, tugging him closer by the small of his back.

“Tae,” Jeongguk groans, a note of warning in his voice as their hips knock together. The button of Jeongguk’s jeans catches on the waistband of Taehyung’s, and Taehyung is about thirty seconds away from popping a boner.

Ignoring him, Taehyung slips a hand under the back of Jeongguk’s shirt, fingers pressing into the sweat-damp skin at the small of his back. His waist is deceptively tiny, and Taehyung is obsessed with that as well, this strange mix of strength and delicacy that Jeongguk seems to pull off so effortlessly. And he’s so responsive, too, shuddering the second Taehyung’s hands connect with bare skin, grabbing Taehyung’s face and kissing him harder than he ever has before.

Of course, of course, that’s when they hear the telltale sound of truck doors slamming outside, and Jeongguk springs back immediately, putting a foot of distance between them. His lips are swollen and kissed pink, cheeks faintly flushed, and he’s regarding Taehyung with an expression that can only be described as hungry.

Sweet fuck, Taehyung would do literally anything to him.

“Fuck,” Jeongguk says hoarsely, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand and shaking his head as if to clear it. His gaze darts to the kitchen doors, then back to Taehyung. “Fuck.”

Taehyung just barely restrains himself from replying with “yes, please.”

“They need to start taking longer at lunch,” he jokes instead, stepping away from the refrigerator and trying to collect himself.

Jeongguk huffs out a laugh. “I’m sure your parents would appreciate that.”

“Whatever, I’m the boss around here during the day,” Taehyung says. “I demand you stay inside and kiss me instead.”

“This sounds like workplace harassment.”

Taehyung gasps indignantly, smacking Jeongguk’s arm lightly. “Fine. No more kisses for you, then.”

It takes about 0.5 seconds of Jeongguk pouting for Taehyung to relent, and he darts forward, pecking Jeongguk once more before spinning him around and pushing him towards the door.

“Say bye before you leave?”

Jeongguk flashes him a smile over his shoulder. “‘Course.”

***

That weekend, they go on their second official date, this time to see the new Marvel movie at the dumpy little theater downtown. They sit in the furthest back row (although that’s really not saying much given the size of the theater), sharing a massive bucket of popcorn and bag of Sour Patch Kids, chattering excitedly while they wait for the movie to start. Jeongguk is practically vibrating with anticipation by the time the lights go down, and Taehyung thinks he may have underestimated his love for all things superhero. It’s kind of endearing, though - he looks like a five year-old, bouncing up and down in his seat and clapping his hands together eagerly when the previews start.

Despite the fact that they’re doing literally the most cliche date thing ever by sitting at the back of a dark theater (Taehyung remembers the locker room talk in high school, guys bragging that they’d gotten to third base in these very seats), they keep it very PG during the movie. Jeongguk in particular is intently focused on the action on screen, and Taehyung doesn’t want to take that away from him, although he does lean over occasionally to whisper things in Jeongguk’s ear, preening when he succeeds in making him laugh. By the time the credits roll, their fingers are intertwined on the arm rest between them, and that’s good enough for Taehyung.

As they spill out of the theater and into the warm night air, Jeongguk can’t stop talking, recounting seemingly every detail of the movie and sharing his thoughts and favorite parts. It’s possibly the most Taehyung has heard him speak, ever. For his part, Taehyung just smiles and stays quiet, humming and nodding along, content to listen to Jeongguk’s opinions. Taehyung is a Marvel fan, too, but clearly not on the level Jeongguk is. It’s delightfully nerdy and extremely endearing, and it makes Taehyung like him even more.

“Why are you looking at me like that?” Jeongguk asks, observing Taehyung when he pauses to take a breath. They’re standing on a sidewalk just a bit outside the center of town, quiet except for the occasional car passing by or couple on a date night stroll. Taehyung supposes there’s a sort of peace that comes with this suburban setting, but personally he craves the vibrant energy of a big city. He wants to live somewhere that doesn’t shut down completely at 9pm.

“I just think it’s cute that you’re so excited about the movie,” Taehyung admits.

Jeongguk flushes, looking down at his feet. “Sorry, I’ll stop talking about it.”

“No, don’t,” Taehyung counters, drawing Jeongguk’s attention back up to him. “I like listening to you.”

Jeongguk responds by kissing him instead, one hand wrapping around Taehyung’s wrist and tugging him into a small alley between a coffee shop and a clothing boutique. Here, shielded from the orange light being cast by the street lamps, Jeongguk crowds Taehyung up against the brick wall and kisses him some more, Taehyung’s arms sliding up and around his neck.

“Keep talking,” Taehyung says into his mouth, half teasing. He revels in the press of Jeongguk’s body against his, sturdy chest, hands fitting around his waist. “Talk nerdy to me.”

Jeongguk huffs out a laugh, kissing the corner of Taehyung’s mouth. “Can’t, you’re too distracting.”

His voice pitches higher when Taehyung’s tongue curls around his ear, sucking the lobe into his mouth. The reaction is more intense than Taehyung was expecting, but he’ll take it, wants nothing more than to discover all the ways to make Jeongguk come undone.

“Ah, hyung,” he breathes out, grip tightening on Taehyung’s waist.

Taehyung’s dick twitches in his pants.

“You like that?” Taehyung coaxes, reaching up to toy with the small, silver hoop earring when he drags his mouth back to Jeongguk’s.

“Mm,” Jeongguk confirms, hands running up and down Taehyung’s sides, and it’s too dark to see but Taehyung knows with absolute certainty that he’s blushing.

Taehyung is seriously considering going full high school and dragging Jeongguk into the back seat of his car when Jeongguk’s phone rings, shrill and discordant in the otherwise tranquil night. It’s his mom, and Taehyung does his best not to snicker as Jeongguk drops his forehead to Taehyung’s shoulder, making a disgruntled noise before answering it. The phone is close enough that Taehyung can hear what she’s saying, reminding Jeongguk sternly that they have an early breakfast with his grandmother tomorrow and he should probably get home soon, Jeongguk.

“Sorry,” Jeongguk mumbles when they hang up, his voice muffled against Taehyung’s shoulder. “This is why I need to get into NYU.”

With a laugh, Taehyung presses a kiss to Jeongguk’s temple, urging his head up. “It’s okay, my parents are up my ass too.” He heaves a wistful sigh, curling his hand in the collar of Jeongguk’s shirt and pulling him in for one last kiss. The back seat shenanigans will have to wait. “Come on, I’ll take you home.”

The drive to Jeongguk’s house is relatively quiet, Jeongguk fiddling with the radio and singing along whenever he finds a song he knows. He has a surprisingly nice voice, sweet and melodic, but Taehyung decides to keep that to himself for now for fear it will make Jeongguk self-conscious. Maybe he can get Jeongguk to sing for him someday, when he’s a little more comfortable around Taehyung.

Gravel crunches under the tires of the car as they roll up in front of Jeongguk’s house, a tidy, modestly-sized split-level with a few lights still on inside. It’s notably smaller than Taehyung’s parents’ home, and for the first time he feels a little awkward about the fact that Jeongguk is essentially working for his parents, and to put in a luxury like a pool no less. He hopes it doesn’t make Jeongguk uncomfortable.

“Night, hyung,” Jeongguk says softly, his face barely illuminated by the glowing icons on the car’s dashboard. “See you Monday?”

Taehyung nods, leaning over the console to kiss him goodnight. Jeongguk’s fingers find their way up into his hair, and Taehyung has to fight to keep his thoughts PG, wanting nothing more than to touch Jeongguk everywhere, endlessly. Get him breathless and loud, somewhere completely private, skin on skin -

Jesus, Taehyung, keep it the fuck in check.

He pulls back, feeling suddenly short of breath, and Jeongguk stares at him with those big eyes, lower lip caught between his teeth. Then he’s smiling shyly and slipping out of the car, his dark figure casting shadows on the lawn as he traverses the short path up to his house.

It takes Taehyung a full 2 minutes before he cools down enough to drive home.

***

Every weekend, Taehyung makes a deal with himself that he’ll take one day to relax and dedicate the other to applying to jobs. Since Saturday had been spent anxiously awaiting his date with Jeongguk and then actually going on said date, he wakes up on Sunday ready to dive into applications. Well, not ready, per se - there are about a million things he’d rather be doing - but he knows he has to do it. He’s a sophisticated adult now, after all - he can manage his time responsibly and say no to unnecessary distractions.

So, naturally, when Jimin texts asking if he wants to meet him and Hoseok for lunch, Taehyung immediately says yes.

Part of responsible time management means taking breaks, right?

He meets them at the diner downtown, the two of them already sandwiched into a booth when he arrives. Between Hoseok’s colorful ensemble (bright yellow t-shirt, red snapback perched on his head) and Jimin’s high-pitched laughter, they’re kind of hard to miss.

“Tae!” Hoseok greets happily, scooting over as Taehyung slides into the booth next to them. The cheap cushion of the seat sinks beneath him, molding around his butt. “How’s it going, man?”

“He’s in love,” Jimin butts in before Taehyung can answer, sipping innocently on his soda when Taehyung glares at him.

“What?!” Hoseok cries excitedly, resting his chin on clasped hands and observing Taehyung eagerly. “With who?! Tell me everything.”

“I’m not in love,” Taehyung scowls, glancing around anxiously to make sure no one they know is in the diner. Fortunately, it seems to be mostly empty, the only people nearby a waitress and a much older couple sipping coffee together. Even so, Taehyung keeps his voice low when he speaks again. “I’ve just been on a few dates with Jeongguk.”

“Jeon Jeongguk?!” Hoseok splutters, eyes widening further. He squeals, clapping his hands together. “Oh my god, that is so cute!”

“Not so loud!” Taehyung says frantically, looking around again while Jimin snickers. Some best friend he is. Taehyung will have to look into trading him in.

Hoseok clutches his chest dramatically. “Sorry, Tae,” he says in an exaggerated whisper, cheeks rounded with how hard he’s smiling. “You know I’m a hopeless romantic.”

Taehyung does know - he’d been there while Hoseok sobbed through both The Notebook and Titanic - which is why he can’t be too mad at him for practically shouting Jeongguk’s name to the entire diner. It’s Jimin’s fault, anyway.

Speaking of Taehyung’s traitorous best friend, he pipes up next, asking: “How was the date last night?”

“Really good,” Taehyung says, unable to keep the dumb smile off his face. Every time he thinks about Jeongguk he just feels... giddy.

Jimin raises his eyebrows. “You sure look like you’re in love,” he says pointedly, prompting Hoseok to swoon between them.

“Shut up,” Taehyung pouts, trying desperately to get the waitress’s attention so that she can save him from this interrogation. “I just - I like him a lot, okay?”

Hoseok makes a noise that sounds like a choked off squeak, apparently too overcome for actual words, and Jimin just fixes him with an irritatingly knowing smile.

Much to Taehyung’s relief, the waitress appears then, and he gets a brief break to collect himself while they place their orders. But as soon as she walks away, menus stacked in her arms, Hoseok says:

“So are you guys like, dating now?”

Taehyung shrugs, willing himself not to blush. He supposes he and Jeongguk are dating, in the technical sense of the word - they are going on dates. The thought sends a pleasant shiver up his spine. But what they are beyond that, whether they can assign any sort of label to their relationship, isn’t so clear. Especially considering that they may not even live in the same place by the end of the summer, an unpleasant fact that Taehyung has been studiously trying to ignore.

“I dunno,” he admits, doing his best to sound casual. “We definitely like each other, but it’s still so early.” He takes a sip of his drink, pondering. “I’m hoping we can just keep spending time together and see what happens.”

Hoseok opens his mouth again, seemingly ready with another question, but Taehyung holds his hand up. “Enough about my love life for now, okay? What’s up with you guys?”

Hoseok pouts a little at this, but he lets it go easily enough when Taehyung starts asking about the classes he’s started teaching at the dance studio in town. The conversation meanders on from there, moving from the cute female instructor that Hoseok is trying to woo to how Jimin’s parents are driving him crazy to Jimin’s frustrating job search, which thus far has been just as fruitless as Taehyung’s.

When Taehyung makes a comment of sympathy, noting that he should be at home applying for jobs right at this very moment, Hoseok perks up, putting his burger down and wiping his hands on the napkin in his lap. “That reminds me, Tae,” he says, grabbing a fry. “Do you remember Min Yoongi?”

“Yeah, of course,” Taehyung nods immediately, gaze darting over to Jimin on instinct. His best friend is staring very intently at his chicken sandwich, cheeks faintly pink. “Chim spent half of sophomore year making out with him backstage during theater rehearsals.”

Hoseok snorts, looking over at Jimin as Taehyung dodges the fry that has just been thrown at him. “Damn, yeah, I totally forgot about that. He’s grown up nicely, Jiminie, maybe you should consider getting back in touch.”

The flush on Jimin’s cheeks deepens, and Taehyung now feels satisfactorily compensated for Jimin teasing him about Jeongguk earlier. “Remind me why we’re talking about this?” Jimin prompts.

“Oh, right,” Hoseok says, turning back to Taehyung. “So he’s working at a tech start-up in New York now, and I was talking to him the other day and he said they’re hiring, I guess the company is growing really fast?” Hoseok shrugs, adjusting his cap so that it holds more hair back from his forehead. “But, anyway - he said if you’re interested, you should send in your resume, Tae.”

Taehyung gapes at him, suddenly seeing a small flame of hope in the otherwise endless black hole that is applying for jobs. “Seriously? That would be amazing.”

Now in the midst of dumping more ketchup on his fries - Jimin wrinkles his nose in disgust at the amount - Hoseok nods enthusiastically. “Yeah, definitely. I can forward you his email if you need.”

“That would be awesome, thanks, hyung,” Taehyung says, nodding eagerly.

“Maybe throw Jimin’s name into the mix as well,” Hoseok adds thoughtfully, chewing on a fry. “Might up your chances, he was pretty enamored - ”

“I swear to God, Taehyung, I will kill you - ”

The rest of lunch passes in a racket of happy bickering and teasing, revisiting embarrassing stories from high school and laughing so hard they nearly piss themselves. Taehyung emails Yoongi as soon as he gets home and doesn’t even feel guilty about taking a break for lunch, not when it finally feels like there’s a legitimate opportunity on the horizon.

***

On Tuesday evening, Jeongguk lingers after work, listening patiently while Taehyung has twelve meltdowns about how Yoongi emailed him back and told him to send his resume along. Then he asks to see Taehyung’s website, and Taehyung is so charmed by the way he marvels over the smallest things that he ends up getting distracted by the overwhelming need to make out with Jeongguk’s face. Which is how they lose track of time and find themselves stumbling apart at the sound of a key turning in the front door, signaling Taehyung’s mom returning home from work.

Well, shit.

“I’m home!” she calls, her voice carrying from the entryway, where Taehyung can imagine her toeing off her shoes. “Tae?”

He stares at Jeongguk in a panic, taking in his pink lips and flushed cheeks and imagining that he himself can’t look much better. His brain quickly runs through possible escape route options, including shoving Jeongguk under his desk or possibly out the window, but he can already hear his mom’s footsteps as she walks down the hall to the kitchen, and he knows there’s no time. They’ll just have to face the music and hope it’s not too obvious that they were just sucking face in his dad’s office.

At least they’re not naked.

Giving Jeongguk an apologetic shrug, he turns away from him and calls out to his mother. “Hey, mom, in here.” She appears in the doorway a moment later, still dressed in her work clothes, hair done up in a loose bun. Her eyebrows lift slightly when she sees that Taehyung isn’t alone.

“I was just showing Jeongguk my website,” he rushes to explain, wincing when he realizes the desktop monitor has fallen asleep. His mom, though, seems more preoccupied with Jeongguk (currently half hidden behind Taehyung), a flicker of recognition on her face when Taehyung says his name. He’d mentioned to his parents that he was spending time with Jeongguk, and though he hadn’t explicitly used the word date, he suspects his mom has had an inkling.

Jeongguk stumbles forward then, a flutter of nerves, hand extended to Taehyung’s mother. “Hi, Mrs. Kim,” he says politely, earnestly, and Taehyung melts a little. “It’s nice to meet you.”

His mom’s smile widens, gaze flicking quickly to Taehyung before settling back on Jeongguk, and Taehyung knows she can see right through them. “Nice to meet you too, Jeongguk,” she says warmly, shaking his hand. “You’re helping to install the pool, aren’t you?”

“I am, yes ma’am,” Jeongguk nods. Damn, Taehyung can’t resist a boy with manners. “It’s coming along nicely.”

“I don’t doubt that, Mr. Kim always does good work,” she says, referring to Namjoon’s father. She glances back over at Taehyung, and for a moment, he feels like he’s looking in a mirror because of the mischief he sees in her face. A second later, he knows why, when she asks: “Would you like to stay for dinner, Jeongguk?”

Jeongguk’s eyes widen, and he looks back and forth between Taehyung and his mother, hesitant. “Oh, I wouldn’t want to intrude,” he says hurriedly. “I’m not really presentable for dinner - ”

“You wouldn’t be intruding at all,” Mrs. Kim insists. “We love spending time with Taehyung’s friends.”

Taehyung nods, offering him an encouraging smile. “You can use my shower and borrow some of my clothes, if that would make you more comfortable.” Jeongguk flushes at this, eyes going even rounder.

“I - okay, sure,” he concedes, shuffling his feet a little. “I’d love to stay, thank you Mrs. Kim.”

She smiles, clapping her hands together. “Of course, my pleasure. Tae, go show him around and then come back down to help me, okay?”

Taehyung nods, kissing his mother on the cheek before grabbing Jeongguk by the wrist and leading him into the hallway and up the stairs. When they reach Taehyung’s room, he closes the door behind them, belatedly realizing this is the first time Jeongguk has been in his bedroom. He looks around shyly, blushing when his gaze lands on the bed.

God, he’s such a fucking cutie, Taehyung is going to die.

“Oh, right, so this is my room,” Taehyung says, gesturing around vaguely. He wishes he’d done a slightly better job of cleaning up this morning - his bed is still unmade, his Tata plushie and a few comic books strewn on the floor beside it, and there’s a growing pile of dirty laundry in the arm chair by the window. It’s kind of embarrassing, but Taehyung has never been a particularly neat person, so he supposes there’s no point trying to hide that. “Sorry, it’s kind of a mess, but so am I, so.”

Jeongguk laughs, shaking his head. “I like it,” he declares, hands stuffed in his pockets. “Can’t believe I’m in Kim Taehyung’s bedroom.”

Taehyung snorts, sauntering over to him. “Oh yeah? Thought about this moment a lot, have we?”

Jeongguk suddenly becomes very interested in looking at his feet. “Maybe once or twice,” he mutters.

Taehyung lets out a laugh, warm and hearty, nudging Jeongguk’s chin up so that he can kiss him. “Well, I can’t believe Jeon Jeongguk is in my bedroom,” he says, stomach fluttering when Jeongguk smiles. “You sure you don’t mind staying for dinner? I can make up an excuse for you if you want to ditch.”

“No, I want to stay,” Jeongguk insists, shaking his head. He surveys Taehyung, seemingly steeling himself for something. “I want to hang out with you more.”

Taehyung beams at him. “Well in that case, my bathroom is right here,” he says, taking a step back and gesturing to the half open door next to his desk. “And as far a clothes, let’s see...” he frowns, taking the opportunity to look Jeongguk thoroughly up and down. Jeongguk promptly blushes under the attention. “You’re definitely bulkier than me on top, but I have some loose t-shirts that should work. For pants, we’re the same height at least, and your waist is fucking tiny, but I don’t think my skinny jeans can handle those thighs,” he says with a wink, making Jeongguk splutter adorably. “Not that I’m complaining.”

“Tae,” Jeongguk whines, clearly embarrassed.

“Don’t worry, I’ll find something,” Taehyung says, grinning cheekily. “Go shower. Let me know if you need any help getting undressed.”

Jeongguk groans, traipsing into the bathroom, and Taehyung smiles fondly to himself as he starts rooting through his drawers in search of clothes for Jeongguk to borrow. Just as he’s pulling out an oversized, white t-shirt, he hears Jeongguk’s voice coming from the entrance to the bathroom.

“Tae?” he says hesitantly.

When Taehyung looks up, his jaw nearly hits the damn floor. Because Jeongguk is shirtless. Shirtless, and standing in Taehyung’s bedroom in all his toned, six pack-having glory, jeans riding low on his hips, and fuck, what the fuck, Taehyung wants to lick him. Wants to get his hands around Jeongguk’s insanely tapered waist and his mouth all over every fucking inch of those abs.

“Jesus Christ,” Taehyung says, throat suddenly very dry. He really, really wishes his mom wasn’t downstairs right now. “What’s up, Guk?”

Jeongguk, the brat, has the audacity to look vaguely smug, and Taehyung realizes in horror that he may have done this on purpose. “I was just wondering if you have an extra towel?”

“Under the sink,” Taehyung informs him, voice hoarse. “Now get out of my sight before I lose my damn mind.”

Jeongguk’s expression grows smugger, and wow, if he keeps this up, Taehyung is going to be supremely fucked. “Whatever you say, hyung,” he says, saluting, and then he vanishes behind the bathroom door.

A few seconds later, Taehyung hears the sound of the water running, and he takes several deep breaths, willing his dick down. He’s not sure how he’s going to face his mother with all of the thoughts currently racing through his mind. He needs Jesus, probably, or maybe just a cold shower. Really, though, he needs to touch dicks with Jeongguk like yesterday.

Once he manages to get his horniness in check, he makes his way downstairs, finds his mom in the kitchen chopping up vegetables. Wordlessly, she hands him the knife and a half-chopped pepper, and he takes over as she starts mixing a marinade for the chicken.

“So,” she says, looking at him out of the corner of her eye, and oh, Taehyung knows that voice. He stares determinedly down at the growing pile of diced pepper, playing innocent. “Jeongguk is very handsome.”

Taehyung nearly cuts his finger off in surprise. “Oh my god, Mom,” he groans, refusing to look at her.

“What?” she says with a laugh. “It’s just an observation.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Taehyung grumbles. “Any other fascinating observations?”

“You’re blushing,” she points out, and Taehyung huffs, instantly regretting his question. Sometimes he wishes he and his mother weren’t quite so similar. “In all seriousness, though,” she continues. “He seems like a very sweet boy.”

“He is,” Taehyung says immediately, dumping the chopped up pepper into a bowl and moving on to the zucchini. “He’s really great.”

Even in his own ears, Taehyung sounds stupidly enamored, but he just can’t help it. The more he gets to know Jeongguk, the more he likes him. There’s this softness to him, even when he’s being cheeky or getting Taehyung all hot and bothered, that makes Taehyung impossibly fond.

He chances a glance over at his mother and finds her smiling at him. “Well,” she says. “I’m excited to get to know him better.”

Once he finishes with the zucchini, Taehyung heads back upstairs to check on Jeongguk and make sure the clothes all fit okay. He knocks softly on the door to his bedroom as a warning, slipping inside when he hears an affirmative noise from Jeongguk.

Jeongguk is sitting on the edge of Taehyung’s bed, tapping away on his phone, but he looks up with a smile when Taehyung enters the room. His hair is damp and fluffy from the shower, shoulders pulling slightly against the material of Taehyung’s T-shirt, and yeah, Taehyung thinks he could get used to the sight of Jeongguk in his bedroom.

“Hey,” he says, standing up. Taehyung literally gulps when he gets the full length view of Jeongguk in his sweats, just a little too tight around his muscular thighs. “Sorry, I was just texting my mom that I won’t be home for dinner.”

“No worries,” Taehyung replies, stepping closer. It’s like his body can’t physically stay away. “Good shower?”

Jeongguk nods, hair flopping on his forehead. “Nice and clean now.”

It’s a near thing, but Taehyung manages to restrain himself from making a comment about preferring him dirty.

“Kind of like you in my clothes,” Taehyung says lowly, hooking two fingers in the waistband of Jeongguk’s (his) sweats and tugging lightly.

Jeongguk sucks in a shaky breath, pressing closer, so close that their noses are practically brushing. The scent of Taehyung’s own shampoo wafts towards him, and he swallows again, going almost cross-eyed as he tries to keep his eyes on Jeongguk.

“Yeah?” Jeongguk prompts, tone caught somewhere between delight and disbelief.

“Yeah,” Taehyung confirms, their noses bumping together when he nods. He places his palms on Jeongguk’s chest, then slides them up to his shoulders, squeezing lightly. His skin is still hot from the shower, and it seeps through the fabric, warming Taehyung’s hands. “They look good on you.”

Nodding, Jeongguk’s hands find his hips, urging him closer as he closes the small distance between their mouths. It’s so easy to just sink into him, Taehyung’s arms winding around his neck, fingering the damp strands of hair at the base. He presses his body flush against Jeongguk, coaxing his mouth open with his tongue, grinning when Jeongguk makes a noise of approval and wraps his arms fully around Taehyung’s waist. For a minute, Taehyung completely forgets that his mom is right downstairs.

Reality sets back in with the sound of the front door opening and closing again, this time alerting them to the arrival of Taehyung’s father. Taehyung pulls back reluctantly, frowning, immediately missing the weight of Jeongguk’s hands when they slip from his waist.

“Maybe I should make an excuse to skip dinner,” he says, only half joking, watching transfixed as Jeongguk licks his own lips.

“I want to make a good impression on your parents, though,” Jeongguk frowns, and Taehyung just about dies.

“You’re sweet,” he says, nudging the underside of Jeongguk’s chin before grabbing his hand and tugging him towards the door. “Come on then, let’s go.”

He can feel the nervousness radiating off of Jeongguk as they make their way downstairs, and he gives his hand a reassuring squeeze just before they step into the kitchen. Of course, it ends up barely being necessary - Jeongguk conducts himself like a true gentleman, shaking hands with Taehyung’s father and complimenting his mother on how good everything looks and smells. Taehyung swoons quietly and tries to keep his hands to himself, since it’s not like he’s introducing Jeongguk to his parents as his boyfriend. It’s too soon for that and Jeongguk is being a good sport to stick around for dinner at all - Taehyung doesn’t want to put him under any added pressure.

“So, Jeongguk,” Mrs. Kim says once they’re all seated around the kitchen table, platters of food being passed around. It’s a colorful and appetizing display, vegetables arranged artfully around the chicken, the salad dotted with carrots, baby tomatoes, and avocado. His mom has always had an eye for making food look appealing - it worked wonders on getting Taehyung to eat his vegetables as a child. “You went to the local high school with Taehyung?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Jeongguk confirms, heaping salad onto his plate. “I was two years behind, though.”

Mrs. Kim nods, looking back and forth between them. “Did you know Tae?”

Jeongguk blushes, meeting Taehyung’s gaze briefly. Taehyung cocks an eyebrow at him, smirking. “Umm. Only a little.”

“Jeonggukkie played baseball and did theater too,” Taehyung pipes up, seized by a sudden rush of fondness for teenage Jeongguk. Under the table, he hooks his foot around Jeongguk’s ankle, pleased when he responds with a sweet smile. “I knew him but I was a snobby senior distracted by snobby senior things.”

“He wasn’t snobby,” Jeongguk protests immediately, eliciting amused smiles from both of Taehyung’s parents. “He was just older and cooler than me.”

“Note the use of past tense,” Taehyung teases, prompting Jeongguk to groan and roll his eyes. To his left, Taehyung can see his mom looking back and forth between the two of them curiously, clearly charmed by their easy banter. For two people who have only really known each other for about a month, Taehyung supposes they have slipped into this surprisingly quickly. It just comes so naturally with Jeongguk.

The rest of dinner passes similarly, Jeongguk holding up beautifully under Taehyung’s parents’ gentle grilling. Taehyung practically glows with pride as he sits there listening to him, so much so that a part of him does wish he had the privilege of calling Jeongguk his boyfriend, even though it’s still so early. It feels like things could be headed in that direction, a thought that gives him butterflies, but not for the first time he has to remind himself that there could very well be a deadline on this summer romance of theirs.

Jeongguk insists on helping with the dishes, and after much protesting Taehyung concedes to let him dry, shooing his parents out of the kitchen before he goes to join Jeongguk at the sink. A warm, happy feeling settles in his stomach as he stands shoulder to shoulder with Jeongguk, their hands brushing as they pass the dishes between each other, chatting quietly.

“Do you think they liked me?” Jeongguk asks anxiously, wiping down a large serving platter and setting it aside.

“Absolutely,” Taehyung confirms, his hands submerged in warm, soapy water. “You were perfect.”

Jeongguk looks so pleased and relieved that Taehyung can’t help leaning over to give him a kiss on the cheek. His parents are in the next room, anyway.

When the dishes are done, they slip out on to the patio, dragging two of the long deck chairs close together and staring up at the sky. The muted sounds of the TV spill out from the open living room window, but they’re too caught up in their own conversation to pay them much mind.

“I’m really sorry I didn’t know you better in high school,” Taehyung says, giving voice to something that’s been nagging at him for a while, but especially since it came up at dinner. Their most recent conversation, a debate over the greatest romantic movie of all time (Jeongguk insists it’s Titanic, Taehyung is partial to Love, Actually) has recently ended in a stalemate, and they’ve been sitting in a comfortable silence for the past few minutes.

Jeongguk turns to look at him, cheek pressed against the sloping back of the chair. He looks unfairly good all stretched out like this, lazy and comfortable, and Taehyung is silently counting the seconds until his parents retreat up to their bedroom for the night.

“You don’t have to apologize, Tae,” he replies, frowning. “You didn’t do anything wrong.”

“I just hate thinking that you liked me and I didn’t even give you the time of day,” Taehyung says guiltily. “I hate that I made you sad.”

“Relax, it’s not like I cried myself to sleep every night because of you,” Jeongguk insists, lips twitching up slightly. “Two years is a big difference in high school, I get it. I was awkward as fuck when I was 15, I don’t blame you for not being interested.”

“Still,” Taehyung protests. It bothers him that Jeongguk is letting him off the hook easily, even though he knows he technically didn’t do anything wrong. He’s always been someone who dwells on his guilt, especially if he knows he’s hurt someone. “I should have paid more attention, or tried to talk to you - ”

“You were always nice to me,” Jeongguk cuts in, voice quieter now. “You always said hi in the halls, and you cheered for me during our games.” He clears his throat, looking down at his hands. “One time freshman year - I dunno if you remember, but. Some of the seniors stole my towel in the locker room after practice?” He shakes his head, picking at his fingernails. “I was so shy back then, I was ready to stand there for hours until everybody left. But then you hung back and left a spare towel for me.”

Taehyung stares at him, the memory coming back all at once. Fourteen year-old Jeongguk, red-faced and clearly near tears, peering out from behind the shower curtain with huge, scared eyes. The seniors always insisted on hazing the freshmen, and Taehyung always thought it was bullshit, but this had seemed particularly cruel - it was obvious the boy was painfully shy. Taehyung had caught some heat for it after, but he remembers thinking it was worth it for the look on Jeongguk’s face when he realized Taehyung was there to help him.

“I totally forgot about that,” he breathes, stunned.

“It meant so much to me,” Jeongguk tells him softly, slowly lifting his head to meet Taehyung’s eyes again. “I already thought you were the prettiest person I’d ever seen, but after that - ” he pauses, chuckling. “Man, I was a goner.”

Taehyung is about to reach for him - needs to touch him, somehow - when the kitchen door cracks open, his mom poking her head out. “We’re heading up to bed,” she informs them. “Jeongguk, it was lovely to meet you. Tae, not too late, okay?”

They say their goodnights, sitting silently as the downstairs lights go off one by one, eventually leaving them with nothing but the light of the moon. When Taehyung feels confident that his parents are upstairs for the night, he climbs off of his own lawn chair and onto Jeongguk’s, nudging Jeongguk’s legs apart so that he can settle cross-legged between them. The younger boy’s eyes widen in surprise, throat bobbing with a swallow, and Taehyung feels something sizzle right at the bottom of his stomach.

“Thanks for telling me that,” he murmurs, letting his folded knees rest on Jeongguk’s.

Jeongguk nods, his eyes almost glistening in the moonlight. “I just don’t want you thinking you were some kind of jerk,” he says. “You were always good to me, that’s why I liked you so much.”

Heart thumping, Taehyung shifts forward onto his knees, planting one hand on each of Jeongguk’s thighs and marveling at how strong they are. (Seriously, who knew having a thigh kink was even a thing? Not Taehyung, not until Jeon Jeongguk sauntered into his life.) He pauses with his face just inches from Jeongguk’s, cocking his head to the side. “Liked?”

He both hears and feels the deep breath Jeongguk takes, his hands clenching around the arm rests of the lawn chair. “Like,” he corrects, his voice hoarse in a way that does things to Taehyung.

“Me too,” Taehyung whispers, closing the distance between their mouths.

There’s something different in this kiss, a heat simmering beneath the surface, threatening to break through at any moment. It’s not urgent so much as deliberate, a promise of so much more to come as their breathing gets heavier, Jeongguk’s soft lips slotting easily against his own. The desire Taehyung feels has been growing exponentially since the moment they first kissed and even before that too, spreading from his stomach and out to his fingertips, eager to touch any part of Jeongguk he can get his hands on. He has to remember to pace himself, take it one step at a time and keep making sure that he and Jeongguk are on the same page.

The man in question is currently curling one hand around Taehyung’s ear, fingers ghosting down the side of his neck as the other settles on Taehyung’s rib cage. Their positioning is a little awkward, Taehyung still kneeling between Jeongguk’s legs, but he can’t be bothered to care that much when Jeongguk is kissing him back so eagerly.

“Did you ever think about doing this in high school?” Taehyung murmurs, pulling away from Jeongguk’s mouth to place a kiss just below the sharp line of his jaw, near his ear.

Jeongguk shivers, head lolling back against the lawn chair. “Only constantly,” he says, the response coming out as a breathless half-laugh.

Taehyung laughs too, keeping his mouth near Jeongguk’s ear as he moves one hand up to his hip, slipping under his own T-shirt to feel the bare skin there. He finds the fabric of Jeongguk’s boxers and drags his thumb along the waistband, smiling when Jeongguk’s stomach tenses under his touch.

“What else did you think about?”

“Hyung,” Jeongguk breathes, almost whines, and Taehyung is certain he’ll never get sick of hearing Jeongguk call him that.

“C’mon, I want to know,” Taehyung presses, dropping his voice lower, speaking directly into Jeongguk’s ear. He’s always taken immense pleasure in being a bit of a tease, but with Jeongguk it’s especially fun, his reactions so honest and unfiltered. “If you tell me, maybe we can do it.”

Jeongguk quite literally shudders at this, fingers tightening in Taehyung’s shirt as Taehyung shifts back to get a good look at him. His lips are rolled in on themselves, eyes dark and wide as they regard Taehyung, almost like he can’t quite believe this is happening. Taehyung makes a point of keeping their gazes locked as his palm slips down over the front of Jeongguk’s sweats, cheering internally when he cups him and finds him already well on his way to being fully hard.

“Oh god,” Jeongguk whimpers, mouth dropping open, and Taehyung resists the urge to bite his lower lip.

“Good?” Taehyung asks, wanting to be sure even when he feels Jeongguk’s dick twitch against his hand. His mouth curves up in a smirk and even in the near darkness he can see Jeongguk’s cheeks turning pink.

“Excellent,” he rasps out, and Taehyung grins fully at this, stroking experimentally over his sweats.

“So you were saying...” Taehyung reminds him, fingers tracing the outline of Jeongguk’s dick. He’s a good size, Taehyung can already tell, mouth practically watering at the thought. It’s been a long time since he wanted someone like this.

“I thought about this,” Jeongguk says, squeezing his eyes shut. “Your hands, they’re - ah, bigger than mine...”

Taehyung preens a little at this, increasing the pressure as he continues to rub his hand over Jeongguk’s clothed cock. He knows from experience that the imperfect friction must be killing him, but Taehyung has more than a few ideas as to how to make up for it.

“Mm,” Taehyung hums, transfixed by Jeongguk’s face, the way it contorts with pleasure. He’s just as hard as Jeongguk in his own shorts, dick aching at seeing him so turned on, so soon. “What about my mouth?”

Jeongguk’s eyes snap open at this, the way his hips jolt up a dead giveaway before he even says anything. “Yes,” he all but whispers, reaching up to brush his thumb over Taehyung’s lips, almost in a trance. “What you’d look like with your mouth stretched around - ”

He cuts himself off, suddenly sheepish again, but Taehyung is having none of that.

“Yeah?” he prompts, breathless himself as he grinds the heel of his palm against Jeongguk’s cock.

“Around me,” Jeongguk admits, voice raw, cheeks flaming.

“I think that can be arranged,” Taehyung tells him, pressing their lips together before sliding down on to his stomach between Jeongguk’s legs. It’s a bit cramped, the chair clearly not designed for two people, and Taehyung’s feet hang awkwardly off the edge. But he doesn’t fucking care, he just wants Jeongguk, wants to make him feel good and make him come and make sure he knows that when it comes to Taehyung, he can have whatever he wants.

“Oh my god,” Jeongguk says hoarsely, eyebrows shooting up as he stares down at Taehyung, the pieces clearly slotting into place. “Oh my god, Tae - ”

“Up,” Taehyung commands, tapping on his hips and curling his fingers in the waistband of Jeongguk’s sweats.

“Tae, what about your parents, what if they come downstairs - ” Jeongguk frets, even as he lifts his hips obediently. Taehyung tugs his pants and boxers down in one go, eyeing Jeongguk’s cock with interest when it springs free. “They’re going to murder m- oh, fuck,” he chokes out, cutting himself off when Taehyung wraps a hand around him.

“First of all, please don’t talk about my parents when I’m about to put my mouth on your dick,” Taehyung says, nothing short of gleeful when Jeongguk groans and bucks up into his fist. “They’re upstairs for the night, don’t worry about it. But - and trust me, under normal circumstances I would literally never say this - just try to keep it down.”

Jeongguk nods numbly at him, eyes so wide Taehyung wonders if they’ll be stuck that way permanently, knuckles white where his hands are still clutching the arm rests of the lawn chair. Taehyung shoots him a cheeky wink and lower his head, tongue circling the head of Jeongguk’s cock curiously. There’s a time for teasing, but Taehyung decides this isn’t it, not when Jeongguk is already leaking pre-cum, his whole body tense, strung out. Taehyung burns with a mixture of pride and arousal at knowing he can get Jeongguk worked up like this, mind spinning out of control as he thinks about all of the other things they can do.

Lifting his eyes to meet Jeongguk’s again, he watches him while his mouth sinks down on his cock, hollowing out his cheeks deliberately. Jeongguk lets out a low whine and Taehyung hums in approval, inhaling through his nose and sucking him down deeper.

“Holy shit,” Jeongguk breathes out, hands fisting in his own hair. He’s so sexy like this, all raw desperation, and it just makes Taehyung want to do better, try harder. “Holy shit, holy shit, Taehyung.”

Taehyung has given a lot of head in his life, considers himself to be pretty skilled at it, but he can safely say that he’s never been so turned on by someone’s reaction to getting a blow job as he currently is by Jeongguk’s. Because he can tell that for Jeongguk, it’s not just about getting his dick sucked - it’s about getting his dick sucked by Taehyung, and fuck if that isn’t the hottest thing that Taehyung can imagine. And then there’s the fact that he’s clearly holding himself back from fucking up into Taehyung’s mouth, tugging at his own hair so he doesn’t pull Taehyung’s, and Taehyung really never expected to think of someone as sweet while he had their cock down his throat, but that’s exactly what Jeongguk is. Sweet and hot and wonderful and yeah, it seems that Taehyung is pretty fully whipped.

“You can put your hands in my hair, Guk,” Taehyung offers, his voice rougher than usual when he pulls off. He keeps his hand working over Jeongguk’s dick, the slide easy now that it’s slick with pre-come and Taehyung’s own spit. “I don’t mind.”

Jeongguk gapes down at him and Taehyung just stares back, arching a pointed eyebrow.

“Okay,” Jeongguk croaks, hissing when Taehyung sinks down on his cock again, tongue curving around the underside. “Okay - oh, fuck, fuck, okay - ”

His hands slide into Taehyung’s hair, grip gentle, and Taehyung makes a particularly obscene noise in response, one that makes Jeongguk’s hips stutter upwards. Encouraged, Taehyung relaxes his throat, taking him deeper, hands splaying out over Jeongguk’s thighs - partly to keep him in place, and partly due to the aforementioned thigh kink that is rapidly becoming a Thing in Taehyung’s life.

“Ngh, Tae, Taehyung,” Jeongguk gasps, voice slipping into alarm as he tugs lightly on Taehyung’s hair. “I can’t, I’m gonna - ”

Taehyung pulls back again, replacing his mouth with his hand, fingers grazing over Jeongguk’s balls. “S’okay, I can swa- ”

He’s cut off by Jeongguk coming with a groan, body arching upwards before slumping back down against the lawn chair. He looks beautiful, bathed in moonlight and completely fucked out, but Taehyung only has a moment to appreciate that before he registers warm wetness sliding down his cheeks and realizes that Jeongguk had just (accidentally) come all over his face.

“Oh my god,” Jeongguk says, looking at Taehyung in horror. He sits up immediately, hands fluttering helplessly around Taehyung’s face, trying to wipe some of his jizz away. “Oh my god, Taehyung, I’m so sorry, oh my god -”

Taehyung is endeared. Again, not something he would expect to feel while cum is literally dripping off his face, but here he is. The power of Jeon Jeongguk.

“Guk, relax,” Taehyung shushes him, catching his wrists and pulling them away from his face. Jeongguk is trembling, near tears as his eyes dart all over Taehyung’s face. “It’s no big deal, really.”

To further prove his point, Taehyung pokes his tongue out of the corner of his mouth, catching some of Jeongguk’s cum and swallowing it.

“Jesus fucking Christ,” Jeongguk breathes, staring at him in awe. Taehyung feels immensely smug. “You just brought about 18 of my high school wet dreams to life.”

“Glad to be of service,” Taehyung grins, relieved when Jeongguk seems to relax slightly. In one smooth movement, he pulls his shirt off, using it to gently wipe the remaining cum from Taehyung’s face. It’s such an oddly sweet gesture that Taehyung refrains from reminding him that it’s actually his shirt that he’s using.

“I really am sorry,” Jeongguk repeats, setting the dirtied fabric aside once Taehyung is all cleaned up. Now that he’s pulled his hands away, Taehyung has an unobstructed view of Jeongguk’s shirtless torso, and well - he’s abruptly reminded that he’s still very much hard in his shorts. “I’m so embarrassed - ”

“Don’t be,” Taehyung insists, silencing him with a kiss. He makes it a dirty one, pushing his tongue into Jeongguk’s mouth and crawling forward into his lap. “I mean it.”

If anything, it’s kind of hot that Jeongguk came on his face, that he was so gone he couldn’t hold himself back. Not to mention it will be hilarious to tease him about once they know each other a little better and the embarrassment isn’t so fresh.

“Oh,” Jeongguk says in surprise, his arms immediately wrapping around Taehyung’s waist. “Oh,” he repeats, eyes widening when Taehyung’s hard-on presses against his stomach. He looks down between their bodies, then back up at Taehyung. “Hyung, can I - ”

“Please,” Taehyung urges, whimpering when his cock brushes against Jeongguk’s toned stomach again. Fuck, he could probably get himself off just rubbing against those glorious abs. “Make me feel good, Jeonggukkie.”

“I will, hyung, I will,” Jeongguk says breathlessly, guiding Taehyung up to his knees so that he can push his shorts and boxers over his ass and down to his upper thighs. Taehyung groans in relief as his cock finally springs free, the noise quickly becoming strangled when Jeongguk’s rough palm circles him. It’s a little jerky, Jeongguk’s nerves seeping through, but what he lacks in finesse he more than makes up for in enthusiasm, kissing Taehyung senseless and murmuring encouragements as he goes.

“You’re so hot, Tae, so sexy,” Jeongguk is saying, twisting his wrist as he smears pre-cum down the sides of Taehyung’s cock. Dizzy with the praise, Taehyung whines, steadying himself on Jeongguk’s sturdy shoulders as his hips cant forward into Jeongguk’s fist. “Do you feel good?”

Even through through the lust clouding his brain, Taehyung hears the silent question: Am I making you feel good?

“So good, Guk,” Taehyung tells him, squirming when Jeongguk’s thumb presses into the slit of his cock. “You’re doing so well.”

With a groan, Jeongguk kisses him again, pulling Taehyung in by the back of his head, teeth catching on his lower lip. It’s more demanding than he’s been thus far, and Taehyung loves it, loves that Jeongguk is turned on because Taehyung is turned on. He’s always found that so attractive, someone who takes pleasure in their partner’s pleasure, but it’s a disappointingly uncommon trait, especially among college-aged boys.

But Jeongguk - Jeongguk with his calloused hands and his strong shoulders and his doe eyes fixated on Taehyung - he wants Taehyung to feel good, and it’s so fucking sexy.

Taehyung comes and it’s bliss, Jeongguk pumping him through it, their foreheads pressed together. He lets out a soft noise of satisfaction that slides into something deeper when he looks between them and sees ropes of his own cum on Jeongguk’s chest.

“Wow,” Jeongguk says, kissing Taehyung over and over, soft little presses of their lips. The giddiness is evident in his voice and in the curve of his mouth. “Wow.”

“Yeah,” Taehyung agrees, pulling his shorts back up and grabby the dirty T-shirt to wipe Jeongguk down as well. He shifts so that he’s not straddling Jeongguk anymore, happy to stretch his legs out after spending so long on his knees.

“Oh, shit,” Jeongguk says, frowning down at his phone, his face lit by the light of the screen. “It’s after 10. And my mom called me... twice.” He winces.

Taehyung laughs, standing up and offering his hand to Jeongguk. “Guess we should call it a night.”

“Yeah,” Jeongguk sighs, wistful. “Sorry.”

Once Jeongguk has collected all of his things, Taehyung walks with him out to Jeongguk’s mother’s car, which he had been allowed to borrow for the day. Their feet move quietly over the grass in Taehyung’s front lawn, the rest of the neighborhood already in for the night.

“This was, umm,” Jeongguk begins, rubbing the back of his head awkwardly. “Thank you? And sorry, again.”

Taehyung snorts, feeling impossibly fond. “Stop apologizing, otherwise I might never ask you to come on my face on purpose.”

The choking noise Jeongguk makes then is enough to send Taehyung into a hysterical fit of giggles.

Hyung,” Jeongguk pouts, tugging on the hem of Taehyung’s shirt.

“Sorry,” Taehyung apologizes, leaning in to kiss him. It’s like Jeongguk is some kind of drug - the more he gets, the more he wants. “Tonight was awesome, I like you a lot.”

Jeongguk beams at him, kissing him once more before clambering into the car. “Night, Tae,” he whispers through the open window.

Taehyung blows him an exaggerated kiss as he drives away.

***

When Taehyung wakes up the following morning, his giddiness from the night before still hasn’t worn off. It fills his whole body with a lightness he hasn’t felt in a while, adds a bounce to his step when he goes downstairs to make breakfast. Even the prospect of working on his website all day doesn’t seem so daunting when he has seeing Jeongguk to look forward to.

But when he looks outside, Jeongguk is nowhere to be found among the usual assortment of crew members. Taehyung frowns, wondering if maybe he’s around front or running late. When there’s still no sign of him half an hour later, Taehyung texts him, worried that he’s not feeling well, or something else happened. Jeongguk has never missed a day of work, and he’s never late.

At 10am, Jeongguk still hasn’t responded, and Taehyung is getting seriously concerned. He debates going outside to ask Namjoon if something is wrong, but they’ve been trying to keep their relationship on the down low, and he doesn’t want to put Jeongguk in an uncomfortable position with his coworkers. And then, another, nastier thought occurs to him - that maybe after everything that happened last night, Jeongguk is avoiding him on purpose.

It doesn’t seem like something Jeongguk would do, but then again, Taehyung has been burned in the past. By guys who act interested just to get in his pants, guys who say all the right things but vanish as soon as they get laid. Taehyung really, really doesn’t want to believe Jeongguk is like that, his heart cracking at the mere thought, but they had finally hooked up for real last night. And now, for the first time all summer, Jeongguk isn’t here and isn’t texting him back?

With a sickening feeling of dread, Taehyung realizes Jeongguk hadn’t even said it back when Taehyung told him he liked him a lot while they were saying goodbye. He’d been too giddy to notice at the time, but in light of this morning’s events, it suddenly seems oddly ominous. Has he really been so caught up in his own crush that he’s missed the signs Jeongguk is sending him?

Taehyung tries to keep his feelings in check, tries to convince himself not to freak out too hard just yet. He doesn’t know for sure what’s happening, and there could be a completely logical explanation. Jeongguk is sweet, Jeongguk blushes whenever Taehyung smiles at him, Jeongguk wouldn’t just use him for sex and then ghost.

Right?

By 11, there’s still no word from Jeongguk and Taehyung’s concern is rapidly giving way to anger. He’s ruled out a serious emergency at this point - Namjoon at least knows he and Jeongguk are friendly, and if something was really wrong he thinks Namjoon would have told him. It’s possible that he’s sick, but in that case there’s no reason he couldn’t have just texted Taehyung back and told him that. And so the nasty voice in Taehyung’s head is getting louder, telling him that Jeongguk got what he wanted and now he’s over it.

When he can’t take it anymore, Taehyung says fuck it to his website and hops on his bike, bound for Jeongguk’s house. Because fuck this, he’s not going to let Jeongguk just blow him off and get away with it, not after everything that’s happened this past month. And if something else is going on, well then Taehyung would rather they talk about it in person anyway.

His nerves catch up to him when he’s standing outside Jeongguk’s front door, palms sweaty when he wipes them on his shorts. This had seemed like a good idea when he left his house, still pumped up on adrenaline, but now that he’s actually here he’s kind of terrified of what might happen. What if Jeongguk is cold to him, or dismissive? What if everything Taehyung thought he knew about him turns out to be a lie? He’s not sure he’s ready to face that.

But he’s here, he rode all the way across town to do this and Jeongguk still hasn’t texted him back, so fuck it. There’s no backing down now - he’s going in.

A woman who he presumes to be Jeongguk’s mother answers the door - Taehyung remembers Jeongguk mentioning that she works from home half the time. She has a kind face, doe-eyed like Jeongguk, and she smiles at Taehyung even though they’ve never met before.

“Hi, Mrs. Jeon,” Taehyung says politely. It’s not her fault that her son is potentially using him for sex. “I’m Taehyung, I’m a friend of Jeongguk’s.”

Her smile widens in recognition when Taehyung says his name. “Taehyung! It’s so nice to meet you, I’ve heard so much about you!” Taehyung blinks at her in surprise as she steps away from the door and ushers him inside. “Come in, come in! Would you like something to drink? Jeongguk is still up in his room.”

The interior of the Jeon residence is small but tidy; Taehyung sees a living room stuffed full of cozy-looking furniture to his left and a bright kitchen at the end of the hall. There are pictures of Jeongguk at various ages hanging everywhere, everything from him as a child, missing two front teeth and beaming as he holds an ice cream cone, to him just a few years ago, sandwiched between his parents at his high school graduation. It fills Taehyung with fondness until he remembers he’s mad at Jeongguk right now.

“Oh, I’m fine, thank you,” Taehyung says. “I was just hoping to - ah, talk to Jeongguk, if that’s okay.”

“Of course, of course,” Mrs. Jeon nods. “His room is right up that way, second door on the right.”

Taehyung bows his head and thanks her, taking the stairs two at a time, anxiousness propelling him forward. The momentum keeps him going right up to Jeongguk’s door, and he knocks lightly before he can second guess himself again. There’s a grunt of acknowledgement and Taehyung pushes the door open, closing it behind himself as soon as he steps inside.

Jeongguk is sitting on his bed, sheets pooled around his waist, looking unfairly adorable with his sleep-rumpled hair and pouty lips. He’s looking down at his phone, but he drops it as soon as he glances up and sees Taehyung, eyes going wide.

“Tae?” he says, surprised. “What are you doing here? I was just t- ”

“So I see your hands aren’t broken,” Taehyung snaps, fists resting on his hips. His phone vibrates in his pocket, but he ignores it.

Jeongguk’s mouth drops open, features wrinkling in confusion. “What?”

Taehyung advances on him, one shaky finger extended. “Listen, Jeongguk, if you think you can just use me to get your dick wet and then blow me off, you have another thing c-”

What?!” Jeongguk repeats, completely aghast. “Hyung, I would never - ”

“So then what, it’s just a coincidence that you didn’t show up for work today and didn’t respond to my texts?”

At this point, Jeongguk looks like he’s about to cry, and it’s such a sad sight that if Taehyung weren’t so caught up in his own feelings he would feel guilty.

“I just texted you back,” Jeongguk says, eyes pleading. “Right when you walked into my room. Mr. Kim called this morning and said they didn’t need me today, so I slept in. I literally just woke up.”

Slowly, Taehyung reaches into his pocket and pulls out his phone, recalling that it had vibrated right after he walked into Jeongguk’s room. Sure enough, there’s a text from Jeongguk.

From: Guk <333
hey sorry just woke up!!! got the day off but maybe we could meet up for lunch? :)

Well, shit.

“Oh god, I am so sorry,” Taehyung says, mortified. “I am such an idiot, wow, I swear I’m not crazy, I’ll just go flush myself down the toilet now - ”

“Wait, so you’re not mad?” Jeongguk asks, looking perplexed but fortunately not terrified anymore.

God, Taehyung is such an asshole and this is so embarrassing.

“No, god, I’m so stupid, I thought - ” he sighs, staring at Jeongguk’s forehead so he doesn’t have to meet his eyes. “I thought you were blowing me off, and I freaked out. Clearly.”

Jeongguk gapes at him for so long that Taehyung wishes the floor would just open up and swallow him whole. He wonders if Jeongguk will even want to talk to him anymore now that he’s exposed himself as an insecure psychopath.

“But hyung,” Jeongguk says finally, prompting Taehyung to drag his eyes away from the baseball posters adorning the walls and back to Jeongguk himself. “I just got you to notice me, why would I blow you off?”

This certainly isn’t the response Taehyung was expecting, and now it’s his turn to gape at Jeongguk. Seriously, what did he to deserve this boy?

“I - ” Taehyung slumps, not even sure how to respond to that. He’s ashamed of himself and the way he jumped to conclusions, and he doesn’t think Jeongguk should let him off the hook so easily. “I’m really sorry. I shouldn’t have doubted you like that, I just - I really like you, and I let my insecurities get the best of me, I guess.”

“It’s okay,” Jeongguk says. “Just - have some faith in me, okay? I mean, I’m really, really attracted to you,” he clears his throat, flushing. “Obviously. But it’s not - that’s not why I’m hanging out with you. I know I’m not the best at texting, or dates, but I really like you too, and I wouldn’t - I would never do that.”

There’s suddenly a lump in Taehyung’s throat that he needs to fight down, because otherwise he’s going to start fucking crying and then Jeongguk is really going to think he’s crazy.

“You’re wrong,” he says hoarsely, and Jeongguk’s eyes widen in alarm again. “You are the best, and I’m so glad I get to hang out with you, and can we maybe just forget this ever happened?”

Relief sweeps across Jeongguk’s face, his mouth pulling into a cute smile that Taehyung feels like a punch in the stomach.

“Sure,” he agrees.

Taehyung grins at him, feeling extremely relieved himself. “Alright, well, thanks for being so nice about this,” he says, taking a step backwards. “I’ll just... leave you alone now.”

“Wait!” Jeongguk’s voice stops Taehyung in his tracks, and he smiles sheepishly when Taehyung turns back around to face him. “I was just gonna say - do you want to hang out for a little, maybe? I mean, unless you have to get back to work, but since you’re already here...”

He looks so cute and hopeful and fluffy and yes, Taehyung very much wants to hang out for a little, or a lot, preferably.

“I can catch up on stuff for the site tonight,” Taehyung says with a shrug. “Let’s hang out.”

And the answering smile he gets from Jeongguk is well worth the extra hours he’s going to have to put in later to make up for it.

They end up huddled side by side on Jeongguk’s bed, shouting nonsense and mock insults at each other as they play round after round of Mario Kart. Their shoulders brush and their knees keep knocking together, but Taehyung is too busy laughing hysterically and trying to drive Jeongguk off the road to get too flustered about it. Instead, it just feels nice - nice and comfortable and easy, so easy that Taehyung is starting to get a little scared of what’s going to happen when the summer ends.

Their chaotic playtime is only disrupted by Jeongguk’s mother poking her head in an hour or so later, smiling in unmistakable amusement when her gaze settles on the two of them.

“I see you two are having fun,” she says, laughing when Taehyung zips over the finish line and throws his hands up in victory. Jeongguk huffs, dropping his controller on the bed with a pout. “Jeongguk-ah, have you even changed out of your pajamas? You have a guest.”

“It’s okay, Mrs. Jeon, he’s been too busy losing to me at Mario Kart,” Taehyung teases, gasping when Jeongguk elbows him sharply in the ribs.

“Jeongguk!” His mother scolds, and Taehyung does his very best to hold back a snort. “Sorry, Taehyung, I swear I taught him manners.”

Wow, this is too fucking good. Taehyung is positively gleeful as he glances at Jeongguk out of the corner of his eye and sees him scowling at his mother, cheeks pink.

Throwing an arm around his shoulders, Taehyung flashes him a shit-eating grin and ruffles his hair obnoxiously. “Don’t worry about it, I still like him anyway.”

Jeongguk flushes more deeply at this, but he looks slightly mollified. His mother laughs again, and Taehyung wonders what this looks like to her, if she has any sense of what’s going on between Taehyung and her son. At the very least, she seems to have taken a liking to Taehyung and his sense of humor.

“Alright, well, I just came to tell you that I’m heading out to run an errand, I shouldn’t be long,” Mrs. Jeon says.

“Okay,” Jeongguk nods, and Taehyung’s attention perks at the prospect of an empty house. He’s suddenly more aware of how broad Jeongguk’s shoulders feel under his arm, the way Jeongguk’s thigh presses against his through the cover of the bed sheets.

Mrs. Jeon gives them a little wave and slips back out of the room, the door closing behind her. The two of them turn to look at each other, and from the way Jeongguk is staring at him, Taehyung has a feeling his mind isn’t the only one that went immediately to the gutter.

“How long do you think she’ll be gone?” Taehyung asks casually.

Jeongguk swallows, his gaze dropping down to Taehyung’s lips. “Maybe 15 minutes?”

Taehyung nods. “Better make it count.”

The second the front door slams shut, they reach for each other, tumbling sideways onto the bed with Taehyung half on top of Jeongguk. Fifteen minutes is probably enough time to get them both off if they were really desperate, but Taehyung is content to keep it PG today, especially in light of the conversation they’d just had.

Or, okay - maybe PG-13.

It’s fifteen minutes of roaming hands and heated kisses, Taehyung sucking lightly on Jeongguk’s neck and Jeongguk’s palms sliding under Taehyung’s shirt and halfway up his back. Their legs tangle together in Jeongguk’s sheets, and at one point Taehyung glances down and is surprised to find Jeongguk in nothing but a pair of pink, striped boxers beneath his T-shirt.

“Have you not been wearing pants this whole time?” he asks, amused.

Predictably, Jeongguk blushes, his eyes widening as he follows Taehyung’s gaze downward. “Uh.” He wrinkles his nose, looking guilty. “Yeah, sorry, I usually just sleep in my boxers and when you got here I didn’t have time to change but I felt weird just blurting it out so I just stayed under the blankets and - ”

“Alright, relax,” Taehyung laughs, cutting off Jeongguk’s nervous rambling. “I literally sucked your dick twelve hours ago,” - Jeongguk makes a noise that sounds suspiciously like a squeak - “I think I can handle seeing you in your boxers.”

“Right,” Jeongguk says.

“They’re cute, by the way,” Taehyung comments, tone lightly teasing even though he means it. He curls two fingers into the waistband, letting the material snap gently back against Jeongguk’s hip. “I like the pink.”

Hyung,” Jeongguk hisses, clearly flustered, and God, Taehyung really wishes they had more than just a few hurried minutes to fool around right now.

As if on queue, they hear the sound of the front door opening right then, and they both sigh, begrudgingly rolling away from each other and sitting up.

“A few more rounds of Mario Kart to cool down?” Taehyung suggests ruefully. He’s currently sporting a semi, and he can’t exactly leave Jeongguk’s house like this. “Then I should probably get back to work.”

Jeongguk nods, and Taehyung catches him adjusting himself out of the corner of his eye. At least they’re both equally horny. “You’re on.”

***

When Taehyung gets back to his house, there’s an unread email from Min Yoongi sitting in his inbox. He promptly panics, gets up and walks 5 laps around his dad’s office, and then calls Jimin, all in the span of approximately 2 minutes.

“Hel- ”

“I HAVE AN EMAIL FROM MIN YOONGI!” Taehyung shouts immediately, cutting off Jimin’s greeting.

“Oh my gosh, what does it say?!” Jimin asks excitedly.

Taehyung stares at the little bolded message at the top of his email inbox, chewing on his lip. “I dunno, I’m too scared to open it.”

“Okay well, I’m here now, open it.”

This is something they used to do in college, although admittedly they were usually both hungover and going through their drunk texts from the night before instead. Taehyung supposes this is what being an adult looks like.

With a nod that he knows Jimin can’t see, Taehyung takes a deep breath and clicks to open the email. “Hey Taehyung,” he reads aloud, quickly scanning through the email. “Good to hear from you, blah blah, we do have an open position that could be a good fit for you, WOULD YOU BE ABLE TO COME IN FOR AN INTERVIEW NEXT THURSDAY, OH MY GOD!!!”

He leaps out of the chair and starts jumping up and down, elated. Finally, finally he has an actual job prospect, a real shot at moving to New York.

“OH MY GOD!” Jimin echoes back, and Taehyung can imagine him smiling so hard his eyes disappear. “Tae, that’s amazing!”

“Holy shit, what do I say back?” Taehyung says breathlessly, dropping back down in front of the computer. “Is it embarrassing to reply to his email 14 minutes after it was sent?”

“No, you’re broke and you live with your parents, type faster.”

Taehyung snorts. “Thanks for that.”

“Hey, I’m just hear to lift you up, bro,” Jimin returns easily.

“Should I tell Yoongi you say hi? Meet you stage left in ten?”

“Oh, fuck off.”

Teasing aside, Jimin stays on the phone with Taehyung until he finishes crafting his email in response, listening patiently while he mutters under his breath and reads it out loud over and over again. When they’re both finally satisfied, Taehyung presses send, excitement bubbling in his chest as Jimin cheers. He doesn’t want to get his hopes up, but he can’t deny that this is a good feeling.

“Guess I’m going to New York next week,” he says, a little breathlessly. “Shit.”

“Guess I need to find a job in New York too,” Jimin responds. “Can’t go another four years separated from my soulmate.”

“Aw, bro,” Taehyung coos. “Also, I don’t have the job yet. It’s just an interview.”

“Yeah, well, fingers crossed,” Jimin says. “Are you gonna spend the night in New York?”

Taehyung frowns, considering. “I guess I kind of have to,” he muses. New York is a four-hour drive away, so depending on what time his interview is, he’ll probably have to spend either the night before or the night after in the city. “Hopefully Jin’ll let me crash.”

Kim Seokjin had been a few years ahead of them in school, but their families had always been close and Taehyung had grown up thinking of him almost as a big brother. He lives and works in New York now, although Taehyung has only visited him once; memorably, the night had ended with them both puking their guts out on a random sidewalk after doing too many sake bombs.

“Damn, how is Jin?” Jimin asks. “He had such nice shoulders - ”

“Okay, ew,” Taehyung cuts him off, wrinkling his nose in disgust.

“Sure you don’t want some company on this trip?” Jimin drawls. “I could say hello to Jin and Yoongi.”

“Stop turning my important job interview into a sexcapade, you slut.”

“Rude,” Jimin says, gasping in mock offense. “You can bring Jeongguk and have your own sexcapade.”

Taehyung opens his mouth to snark back, but then he actually thinks about that possibility and pauses to consider. He knows Jeongguk loves New York, and he could maybe even use the trip to explore NYU some more. Plus, it would be nice to have some company, someone to distract him from getting too nervous during the car ride there.

“That’s actually not a bad idea,” he replies.

“Oooh, couple’s getaway!” Jimin teases. “That’s pretty serious, Tae.”

“Shut up, it would be practical,” Taheyung protests. The idea of asking Jeongguk does make him a little nervous, as it does seem like kind of a big step, but it’s not like he’s offering to whisk him away on some romantic vacation. They’re friends too, after all, and after their conversation earlier he actually has a feeling that Jeongguk might be up for it.

Jimin snorts. “Sure, whatever you say.”

“Fuck off, you’re not invited.”

Taehyung laughs as Jimin squawks indignantly. Now he’ll just have to figure out the best way to broach the subject with Jeongguk.

***

As it turns out, Jeongguk takes to the idea of going to New York with Taehyung much more easily than expected. They’re out at the local amusement park when Taehyung finally works up the nerve to ask him, Jeongguk’s arms already full of prizes he’s won because apparently he’s still good at literally everything.

“You really want me to come with you?” he asks when Taehyung finishes awkwardly mumbling his way through an invitation. He’s turned to face Taehyung, eyes so wide and doe-like that Taehyung has to actively stop himself from swooning.

“I mean, yeah,” Taehyung says, reaching out to save the Pikachu wedged precariously under Jeongguk’s right arm from plunging to his doom. “If you want to. It would be really nice to have someone to take my mind off the interview, especially if that someone was you.”

Jeongguk smiles that bunny smile of his and Taehyung feels weak in the knees. “Okay,” he agrees. “That would be really fun.”

Taehyung feels so relieved and grateful that he ends up kissing him right there in the middle of the amusement park, Jeongguk’s assortment of plushies squished between them. Then he drags him off to buy cotton candy and they spend the remainder of the night going on every ride they can find, clinging to each other and giggling like children.

At the end of the night, Taehyung brings the Pikachu home with him, thinking that Tata might have some new competition for most-cuddled plushie.

The following week, Taehyung finds himself staring at Jeongguk even more than usual. He’s just so fucking enamored, and now that they’ve done... stuff, Taehyung can hardly get his brain to think about anything else. Especially when Jeongguk is standing outside his window in all his sweaty, chiseled glory, muscles tensing and jeans pulling against his thighs every time he squats to pick something up.

Which, Taehyung has discovered, is often, now that he’s been staring at Jeongguk for the better part of an hour.

Around noon, the rest of the crew disappears from the backyard, the slamming of truck doors signaling that this is a day when they’re going out to get lunch. Taehyung doesn’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing that this means he gets to spend some time alone with Jeongguk - his heart is happy, but he’s not sure if his dick will survive the onslaught of sexiness.

As expected, Jeongguk sneaks inside a minute or two later, stepping into the office with a wide smile on his face. He’s actually less sweaty than usual today, the temperature outside not quite as suffocating, but there’s still a light sheen to his skin that Taehyung finds more attractive than he probably should.

“Hey,” he says, setting his brown bag lunch down on the desk. And then - then. He lifts the hem of his shirt and uses it to dab at his forehead, exposing the literally perfect set of abs that Taehyung has caught glimpses of but has yet to become closely acquainted with. Not that he hasn’t wanted to - God, he fucking wants to.

Whatever greeting he had intended to say in response dies in Taehyung’s throat, replaced by a sort of embarrassing whimper as he just stares. God save him, he can’t even help it - Jeongguk is literally right in front of him, abs nearly at eye-level since Taehyung is still sitting down and Jesus, fuck, Taehyung should probably just punch himself in the face right now.

He only registers that Jeongguk has said something when the white material of his shirt drops again, covering his abs and effectively snapping Taehyung out of his reverie. He looks up at Jeongguk, has to literally close his fucking mouth as he does, cheeks heating up when he sees Jeongguk frowning down at him.

“Uh. What?” Taehyung says stupidly.

“Are you okay?” Jeongguk asks, sounding confused, and bless him, he doesn’t even realize that Taehyung is having a thirst-induced meltdown because of him right now. Sometimes, Taehyung is truly stunned that Jeongguk doesn’t seem to realize how insanely hot he is.

“I,” Taehyung stammers, gaze flicking back down to Jeongguk’s torso. His hand, acting against direct orders from his brain, reaches out and lifts the hem of Jeongguk’s shirt again, pushing it up his stomach.

The abs are back, and Taehyung’s throat is suddenly very dry.

“Tae?” Jeongguk says tentatively, voice now pitched higher in a way that suggests he’s beginning to have an inkling of what’s going on here.

“Sorry,” Taehyung replies, still not dropping Jeongguk’s shirt. He wants to drag his tongue along the central line of Jeongguk’s six-pack. Would that be inappropriate? “You’re just - fuck, Guk, you’re so fucking hot.”

It’s Jeongguk’s turn to whimper at this, and when Taehyung looks up, Jeongguk is staring down at him with flushed cheeks and a rapidly darkening gaze.

Well, Taehyung’s day has certainly taken a turn.

Hyung,” Jeongguk whines, and it goes straight to Taehyung’s dick. “You can’t just - when you say stuff like that - ”

Taehyung immediately releases Jeongguk’s shirt, feeling suddenly guilty. “Sorry, am I making you uncomf- ”

“It makes me feel like you’re into me,” Jeongguk says instead, catching Taehyung off guard.

Taehyung blinks up at him. “That’s because I am into you, Guk-ah.”

“Fuck,” Jeongguk breathes. “Fuck, say that again.”

Taehyung bites down on a smile, half amused and actually, fuck that, way more than half turned on. He rises to his feet, so that he and Jeongguk are face to face, and looks Jeongguk right in the eye. “I, Kim Taehyung, am so fucking into you, Jeon Jeongguk.”

Jeongguk groans, grabbing Taehyung and kissing him hard, tongue pressing into Taehyung’s mouth almost immediately. It’s really fucking hot, and Taehyung doesn’t hold back, hands slipping under Jeongguk’s top and skimming greedily over his stomach. The skin is damp with sweat, and Taehyung can feel the strength and definition there, although that’s got nothing on the way Jeongguk’s muscles tense under his touch.

They lose their shirts and stumble backwards, Taehyung’s ass colliding with the hard edge of the desk. He decides to use it to his advantage, hoisting himself up so that he’s sitting with Jeongguk standing between his legs. Jeongguk follows eagerly, still kissing him like his life depends on it. His hands find their way to the backs of Taehyung’s knees, tugging him to the edge of the desk, and if Taehyung is honest, it’s sexy as hell - the way Jeongguk can move him so easily, like he weighs nothing. He fists one hand in Jeongguk’s hair and hooks his heels around Jeongguk’s thighs, so riled up now that he thinks he would do just about anything to feel him closer.

“Need me to say it again?” Taehyung gasps, rolling the obvious hardness in his jeans against Jeongguk’s. “Or have I made myself clear?”

“Clear,” Jeongguk whimpers, his hands slipping lower, resting on the upper curve of Taehyung’s ass and squeezing. He’s getting more daring and Taehyung loves it. “Crystal.”

“Good,” Taehyung replies, biting back a whine when he reaches between them and finds Jeongguk already hard and straining against the denim of his jeans. He fumbles with the zipper, pushing Jeongguk’s pants and boxers down just enough to tug his cock out. It’s flushed a pretty pink color, already leaking, and really, it’s one of the nicer dicks Taehyung has seen, even if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s attached to Jeongguk.

“Shit,” Jeongguk swears, hips surging forward into Taehyung’s grip. “Shit, shit.”

“Got such a nice cock, Guk,” Taehyung murmurs, stroking him with practiced movements. “All pink and wet for me.”

The noise Jeongguk makes at that has Taehyung feeling like he owns the goddamn world.

“Holy fuck, Taehyung.”

Taehyung preens, catching Jeongguk’s lower lip between his teeth as he rolls his palm over the head of his cock. “Got an idea,” he says, taking Jeongguk’s hand and guiding it to wrap around his own cock. “Hold tight for me, yeah?”

Jeongguk nods dazedly, and Taehyung almost forgets what he was going to do as he watches Jeongguk start to pump his cock slowly, eyelids fluttering. He makes a mental note to return to this another day (preferably a day in the very near future), then redirects his attention to unfastening his pants and pulling his own dick out. Swatting Jeongguk’s hand away, he takes hold of both of their cocks, using their mingled pre-cum to ease the slide as he starts moving his hand.

“Oh god,” he pants out, heat sparking through him at the feeling of his length pressed so intimately against Jeongguk’s. Jeongguk makes a garbled noise of approval, the kisses slowing as his breathing becomes more ragged. He rests his forehead against Taehyung’s, both of their gazes trained between them, fixated on the movement of Taehyung’s hand, the sight of them together.

This is only the second time they’ve done this, but Taehyung is already addicted to way Jeongguk responds to him, the soft noises and the shudders when Taehyung touches him just right. Pleasure shoots up his spine with each stroke of his hand, but if Taehyung is being honest, he’s really getting off on making Jeongguk come undone. It motivates him to keep his focus, hold his hand steady even though he’s so turned on he can hardly see straight.

“Tae, oh,” Jeongguk moans. His fingers dig into Taehyung’s waist, hips stuttering forward. “Yes, fuck, fuck, fuck - ”

His grip on Taehyung’s waist tightens and then goes slack, and then it’s wet, cum sliding down his stomach and over Taehyung’s hand. Taehyung releases him gently but continues to pump himself, staying grounded with a hand on Jeongguk’s firm shoulder.

Then he feels Jeongguk’s fingers closing around his, nudging him away so that he can jerk Taehyung off in earnest. Taehyung clings to him, hips twitching forward, finally allowing himself to fully sink into the feeling.

“You know,” Jeongguk starts, still sounding breathless. His brow is furrowed, bottom lip caught between his teeth as he focuses on getting Taehyung off. “You know I’m so into you too, Tae, right?”

“I - oh - I gathered,” Taehyung replies, whimpering as Jeongguk’s hand starts moving faster. “But feel free to remind me.”

“I, Jeon Jeongguk,” Jeongguk starts, and Taehyung laughs shakily even as he bites down on Jeongguk’s shoulder. “Am so fucking into you, Kim Taehyung.”

Taehyung comes a few seconds later, eyes squeezing shut as he rides out his orgasm. He knows he should probably feel guilty for defiling another shared surface in his parents’ home, oops, but right now he just feels, really, really good. He’ll just sterilize the desk later, it’ll be fine.

“Well, I guess we’ve established that we’re into each other,” Taehyung says, just as Jeongguk’s stomach makes a loud gurgling noise. His eyes go wide, mortified, and Taehyung bursts out laughing as Jeongguk hides his face in Taehyung’s neck. “Come on, let’s clean up and then have some lunch.”

They just barely manage to scarf down a pair of sandwiches before the crew returns from lunch, but Taehyung feels smug as hell for the rest of the day.

***

As far as 4-hour car rides at the asscrack of dawn go, this one actually isn’t bad. Mostly because Jeon Jeongguk is rapidly becoming one of Taehyung’s favorite people to be around.

Taehyung’s interview is at noon, so they leave well before the sun rises, wanting to give themselves plenty of buffer time in case they hit traffic. Jeongguk demands that they stop at McDonald’s (the same one from their first date) for breakfast, insisting that an Egg McMuffin is the breakfast of champions and that it will bring Taehyung good luck on his interview. This theory seems questionable at best to Taehyung, but he goes along with it anyway because he loves greasy food and also because Jeongguk is cute.

The radio plays as they drive, and as he becomes less sleepy Jeongguk starts singing along. He’s quiet at first, almost like he doesn’t even realize he’s doing it, his voice pretty and soothing to Taehyung’s nerves. He gets louder when Taehyung joins in as well, and by the time the New York City skyline appears in the distance, they’re both belting out the lyrics to all the latest pop songs.

Driving in Manhattan is stressful, to say the least. There are cars everywhere, all of the lanes seem too narrow, and everyone is constantly honking and cutting each other off. Taehyung is certain he would be completely losing his cool right now if it weren’t for Jeongguk beside him, rubbing Taehyung’s shoulder and calmly navigating the directions.

Somehow, they make it to the parking garage Seokjin had told him about in one piece. It’s located in between Jin’s apartment and Yoongi’s office, only about a 10-minute walk from each. Since Jin isn’t home to let them in and Taehyung’s interview isn’t for another hour, they grab coffee and find a bench to sit on. The time for exploring will come later, when Taehyung isn’t stress-sweating about his interview, but for now they sit side by side while Jeongguk fires practice interview questions at him. He’s been exactly what Taehyung has needed throughout this entire process, and Taehyung is so, so grateful (and maybe a little bit in love). He resolves to buy Jeongguk the biggest ice cream cone New York has to offer and to give him as many blow jobs as he wants.

When the time comes, Jeongguk walks him to the office, Taehyung feeling a little bit like he’s walking to his own execution. He’s not nervous about the interview itself, per se - he likes talking to people and he knows Yoongi - but right now this is his only shot at getting a job in New York, and he doesn’t know what he’s going to do if it doesn’t work out.

“Good luck,” Jeongguk says, squeezing his hand reassuringly. “You got this, hyung.”

Taehyung isn’t so sure, but it’s nice to have someone in his corner.

All things considered, the interview goes pretty well. He meets with Yoongi, who is exactly as Taehyung remembers him, and Yoongi’s boss, who seems smart and down to earth. He’s able to answer most of their questions without sounding like a complete idiot, although it’s clear that he doesn’t have as much experience as they’re looking for. Still, they both seem to like him, which he supposes is a good sign. When it’s over, Yoongi gives him a warm goodbye (well, warm for Yoongi), squeezes his shoulder, and tells him they’ll be in touch soon.

The whole process only takes an hour, and by the time Taehyung walks back out into the sweltering city heat, the main thing he feels is relief.

He texts Jeongguk, who endearingly hasn’t strayed very far, and meets him at a cafe nearby for lunch. He listens eagerly while Taehyung recounts the details of his interview, giving him a high five at the end. Then they make their way downtown to the main part of the NYU campus, exploring the neighborhood and occasionally poking their heads into some of the academic buildings. When they pass the admissions office, Taehyung physically drags Jeongguk inside, watching proudly as he introduces himself to one of the heads of admissions and speaks eagerly about how he’s still hoping to get off the waitlist.

It’s a hot day in the city, and honestly it kind of smells bad, but Taehyung finds he loves it too much to care. There’s so much going on, so much to do and see, the air vibrating with an energy that he has never felt anywhere else. They walk through Washington Square Park and there are people playing music, people dancing and sunbathing and reciting poetry in different languages. It’s a place of infinite diversity and possibility, and Taehyung is reminded yet again of why he wants to live here so badly.

They find themselves outside of the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop and over Jeongguk’s protests Taehyung buys him a sufficiently massive cone, kissing his cheek and thanking him again for agreeing to come on this trip.

“You really didn’t have to do this, hyung,” Jeongguk says, even as he happily licks his ice cream. “I wanted to come.”

“Well too bad, because this is only the first half of your thank you,” Taehyung replies.

Jeongguk frowns. “What’s the second part?”

Taehyung leans in close to whisper the blow job plan into his ear. Jeongguk promptly turns bright red and chokes on his ice cream.

Seokjin texts Taehyung when he gets home from work, and they head back to the parking garage to grab their things from the car before heading up to his apartment. It’s a small 2-bedroom on the fourth floor of a building with a highly questionable staircase, but the second Jin opens the door, Taehyung feels instantly at home. He hasn’t seen his hyung in ages, and he barrels into his arms, laughing when Jin makes a disgruntled noise.

“Oof,” he complains, hugging Taehyung tightly anyway. “You’re going to knock me over.”

“Still an old man, I see,” Taehyung teases, pulling back.

Jin swats his arm. “Still a brat, I see.”

“Only for you, hyung.” Taehyung reaches behind him to grab Jeongguk, who has been hovering shyly in the doorway. “Jin hyung, this is Jeonggukkie. Jeonggukkie, this is my Jin hyung. He pretends to be mean but I’m his favorite dongsaeng.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Seokjin-ssi,” Jeongguk says politely, shaking Seokjin’s hand. “Thank you for letting me stay here.”

Taehyung is endeared; Seokjin looks half amused and half impressed.

“Seokjin-ssi, you hear that, Tae? You could learn some manners from this one.” Taehyung rolls his eyes as Jeongguk blushes. “Jeongguk, call me Jin hyung. Taehyung, you can call me Seokjin-ssi.”

Their playful bickering continues as Taehyung fills him in on the interview and Seokjin shows them around his apartment. It’s tiny, so there’s not much to show, and there’s a leaky faucet and the door to the bathroom gets jammed sometimes, but Taehyung likes it anyway. It’s clean and comfortable and right in the midst of everything, and he could see himself really being happy in a place like this.

“Jimin sends his regards to your shoulders, by the way,” Taehyung calls from the couch. He and Jeongguk have been exiled to the living area while Seokjin cooks dinner, the kitchen too cramped to fit all of them. The couch isn’t particularly spacious either, but Taehyung isn’t complaining because it means he doesn’t need an excuse to squish up against Jeongguk’s side.

Seokjin snorts, bustling easily around the kitchen even though it’s approximately the size of a postage stamp. “How is Jimin?”

“Also drowning in the crippling uncertainty of being a recent college graduate with no real job prospects,” Taehyung tells him, taking a hearty sip of his wine. Jeongguk pats his thigh consolingly. “But otherwise good.”

“You guys will figure it out,” Seokjin assures him. “I mean, I still have no idea what I’m doing, but no one does. You’ll find jobs and go from there.”

Taehyung has his doubts, but it does make him feel a little better to talk to Seokjin and see how he’s making it work. He’s really only a few years older than Taehyung, but he’d found a job and an apartment and he’s supporting himself in New York, which isn’t an easy thing to do. It gives Taehyung a little bit of hope that his goals are achievable, if someone would just fucking hire him already.

Dinner is delicious, as it always is when Seokjin is cooking, and they use the time to catch up on all the usual subjects - work (or lack thereof), friends, family. It’s a little awkward when they get to dating, as Taehyung and Jeongguk haven’t exactly defined things between them yet, but luckily Seokjin has the tact to not push it too much. He does suggestively wiggle his eyebrows at Taehyung more often than is strictly necessary, even going so far as to shoot him a thumbs up when Jeongguk gets up for seconds, but Taehyung will take that any day over Seokjin accidentally referring to Jeongguk as his boyfriend.

As the wine continues to flow, Jeongguk gets progressively chattier, talking to Jin about film and NYU and even making a few jokes. They seem to have a similar sense of humor, which Taehyung finds both endearing and vaguely alarming, but he can’t help but smile as he watches the two of them giggle like a pair of schoolchildren. It makes something clench in his chest when he thinks that this really could be his life, if he gets the job and Jeongguk gets into NYU - his friend and his maybe-someday-boyfriend, all in the same place, eating and laughing and figuring things out together. For a second, he almost wishes he wasn’t getting a glimpse of it now, because it’s going to hurt like a bitch if it doesn’t happen.

Jeongguk goes to take a shower while Taehyung helps Seokjin clean up, and Seokjin takes advantage of this time to bombard him with questions about the two of them. When he’d called Seokjin to ask if they could stay over, he’d alluded to the fact that there was something going on between them, but it seems that meeting Jeongguk and seeing them together has piqued his interest.

“He clearly really likes you,” Seokjin says, once Taehyung has briefed him on the situation. “The kid practically has hearts shooting out of his eyes every time you breathe.”

Taehyung’s stomach squirms happily, but he rolls his eyes. “You’re exaggerating.”

“Not really,” Seokjin insists, winking. “And you seem to be in the same boat.”

Taehyung flushes lightly at that and elbows Seokjin in the ribs, but he doesn’t deny it. It’s true, after all, it’s only been a month and he’s already completed gone for Jeongguk and his bunny smile.

“It’s cute,” Seokjin says fondly. “Haven’t seen you this gooey over someone in a while.”

This is also true; he hasn’t had serious feelings for someone in years, and even that had been a hookup who didn’t like him back. After that, Taehyung had stuck to casual sex for the rest of college.

“He’s the best,” Taehyung acknowledges quietly. “But I’m trying not to get my hopes up until I know where we’re both going to end up in the fall.”

Seokjin nods sympathetically, clapping him on the back. “Well, I hope it works out for you guys. You seem really happy around him.”

“Thanks, hyung. I hope so too.”

Once everyone is showered and changed into their pajamas, they pile into the living area to watch a movie. Taehyung wedges himself between Seokjin and Jeongguk, pulling Jeongguk’s hand into his lap and playing with his fingers in a way that makes Jeongguk bite down on a pleased smile. They catch a brief glimpse of Seokjin’s roommate, but he only says a quick hello before disappearing into his room and closing the door - he’s a medical resident, Seokjin tells them, and needs to sleep every chance he gets.

Around 11, their eyelids start drooping, and Seokjin moves around some furniture so they can set up an air mattress on the floor of the living room.

“It’s only a single,” he says apologetically. “Sorry, I can’t fit anything bigger in here.”

“No worries,” Taehyung replies, attaching himself to Jeongguk’s side. “Looks like we’re snuggling, Jeonggukkie.”

“No funny business, Kim Taehyung,” Seokjin says, making Jeongguk turn a delicate shade of pink. “I will hear you, and I will not hesitate to kick you out in the middle of the night.”

Jeongguk looks terrified while Taehyung just pouts.

“But hyung, I owe Jeongguk a blow job!”

Tae,” Jeongguk squeaks, cheeks flaming as he looks over at Seokjin in horror. “He doesn’t owe me anything, I didn’t - ”

“Relax, Jeongguk, I don’t blame you for his antics,” Seokjin says, staring pointedly at Taehyung, who grins back innocently. “If he touches you inappropriately, just scream.”

“Challenge accepted,” Taehyung fires back.

Jeongguk groans and buries his face in Taehyung’s shoulder.

It’s a tight fit on the air mattress, but Taehyung likes cuddling and being close to Jeongguk so it’s not so bad. This is their first time sharing a bed together, he realizes as they settle in face to face, limbs knocking against each other in the limited space. He gets a weird pang in his chest again when he thinks about it, another taste of what could be. It’s starting to scare him how much he wants it.

“Today was really fun,” Jeongguk says quietly, lacing their fingers together in the small space between their chests. It makes Taehyung’s heart ache and skip a beat all at once. “I really hope we both end up here.”

“Me too,” Taehyung whispers, feeling oddly vulnerable all of a sudden. “Would it be okay if we cuddle for a little? It helps me fall asleep.”

“‘Course,” Jeongguk replies, shifting closer. Taehyung drapes his arm over the dip in his waist, slipping one leg between both of Jeongguk’s. His fingers find their way under the hem of Jeongguk’s shirt, stroking lightly over his lower back and making his breath hitch slightly.

“Is kissing considered funny business?” Taehyung murmurs, so close that their noses brush together.

There’s a puff of air against his face when Jeongguk snorts. “Probably.”

Taehyung hums and leans in anyway, nuzzling his nose against Jeongguk’s cheek and brushing his lips over the corner of his mouth. With the lights off, everything feels heightened, touch and sound his only means of navigating.

“Hyung,” Jeongguk whispers, almost a whine. It’s too dark to see, but Taehyung is certain he’s pouting. His thumb presses circles into Taehyung’s hipbone.

Taehyung kisses him then, sleepy and sweet. There’s no intent behind it; they both know they’re not going to be doing anything more on a cramped air mattress in the middle of Seokjin’s living room. It still takes Taehyung’s breath away, the moment somehow more intimate than any they’ve shared so far.

“Night, Jeonggukkie,” Taehyung says softly, pressing his forehead against Jeongguk’s collarbone.

Jeongguk extends his arm so that it’s folded over Taehyung’s waist, pulling him infinitesimally closer. “Night, hyung.”

***

Over the course of the next few days, Taehyung manages to give Jeongguk three blow jobs: one in his bedroom on a night when his parents are working late, one in the backseat of his dad’s car (sorry, Dad) after a late night McDonald’s run, and one in the bathroom at Hoseok’s house.

The story of the third one begins with Hoseok inviting a small group (Taehyung, Jeongguk, Jimin, Namjoon, and a few others) over for a “mini party” while his parents are out of town. It’s nothing like the rager he’d thrown at the beginning of the summer, the one where Taehyung had first laid eyes on grown-up Jeongguk, but it gives them a place to drink and hang out together without having to worry about Jeongguk getting carded.

It had been another sweltering day, the night air still heavy with heat even though the sun had set hours ago. As a result, they’ve all been trying to move as little as possible, draped around Hoseok’s back porch in various states of recline, sweaty beers clutched in their hands. Taehyung is sitting with his back against the porch railing, legs spread out in a v with Jeongguk settled between them. His chest is pressed against Jeongguk’s back, and even though the proximity is probably making them both hotter, Taehyung feels confident he has the best seat in the house.

The others had teased them a bit when they’d first assumed this position, Jeongguk buzzed and thus less reserved than usual when he’d plopped down in front of Taehyung. When Hoseok made a comment, he’d blushed and made to move away, but Taehyung had pulled him closer with an arm around his torso and since then has refused to let go. (Not that Jeongguk is complaining.) Since then, no one has said anything, but Taehyung has caught Jimin, Hoseok, and Namjoon (who had said “What? Of course I knew,” when Jeongguk finally broke down and confessed to him that he was seeing Taehyung) staring at them fondly throughout the night.

“Guk and I actually weren’t even supposed to work together this summer,” Namjoon is saying, his voice a little louder than usual because of the alcohol. They’ve just finished recounting the story of the morning they started work on Taehyung’s parents’ house, when Taehyung had stumbled outside ready to rip into whoever had woken him up.

Jeongguk stiffens in Taehyung’s arms. “Hyung,” he says to Namjoon, a note of warning in his voice.

Namjoon barrels on, apparently oblivious. “He was supposed to work for my dad on another house, but then we found out Taehyung was home for the summer and - ”

Hyung,” Jeongguk repeats desperately, and Taehyung can see the backs of his ears turning red.

Namjoon stops, eyes widening guiltily as he glances between Jeongguk and Taehyung. “Right, sorry, never mind.”

But it’s too late, the pieces are falling into place for everyone and the damage is already done.

“Jeongguk switched crews so that he could hang around Taehyung?” Hoseok asks, eyes round and face flushed from drinking. “That’s so cute, I wish someone liked me that much!”

Jeongguk’s body is impossibly tense now, gaze trained on his knees as he refuses to look back at Taehyung. Taehyung, for his part, blinks stupidly - he’s honestly pretty bowled over by this news, his fondness for Jeongguk growing times a million, but Jeongguk is obviously mortified and he doesn’t want to call attention to that. He glances pleadingly over at Jimin, who luckily seems to take pity on him and tactfully guides the conversation in another direction.

“Guk,” Taehyung says softly, leaning towards Jeongguk’s ear. But before he can say anything more, Jeongguk is pushing up to his feet with his head still down, muttering something about having to pee.

“Guk, I’m really sorry, I didn’t mean - ” Namjoon says as he passes, looking genuinely apologetic. He starts to get to his feet to follow Jeongguk, but Taehyung stops him.

“Let me?” he asks, and Namjoon sighs but nods.

There’s no trace of Jeongguk in the kitchen, so Taehyung wanders into the hallway and finds the door to the bathroom closed, a small strip of light visible through the crack at the bottom.

“Jeongguk? It’s me,” Taehyung calls, knocking softly. “Can I come in?”

When there’s no response, he tries the door anyway, pleased when it swings open. He steps inside and finds Jeongguk leaning against the sink, palms braced on the edge. His head is ducked but Taehyung can see that his cheeks are still flaming, and he doesn’t glance up when Taehyung approaches him.

“Guk - ”

“I’m really sorry, hyung,” Jeongguk mumbles, sounding miserable. “I know it seems really creepy, but I swear I just - when we talked at the party I felt like it was a second chance, or something. I just wanted to get to know you better.”

Taehyung melts.

“Well, I’d say you were successful,” he comments, shifting closer. He nudges at Jeongguk’s chin until the younger boy is forced to meet his eyes. “Hey, come on, look at me. You don’t need to be embarrassed, okay? I’m glad you switched crews. I wanted to see you after the party, too, but I wouldn’t have known how. Probably would have had to beg Namjoon for your number, or something.”

Jeongguk’s lips twitch slightly, but he still looks doubtful. “Really?”

“Really,” Taehyung confirms. “Also, I’m the one who ogled you from my window and invited you in for lunch that first time, so if anyone’s a creeper here, it’s probably me.”

Jeongguk huffs out a laugh at this, bunny teeth poking out. “You can creep on me as much as you want.”

“Yeah, well, likewise,” Taehyung replies, wrapping his arms around Jeongguk’s waist and smiling when he mirrors the gesture. “See? No need to be embarrassed.”

“Okay,” Jeongguk nods. “Thanks, hyung.”

“Great,” Taehyung says, leaning forward to kiss him. “Now that that’s settled, I think I can probably get away with blowing you in here while everyone thinks I’m still consoling you.”

Jeongguk’s eyes go wide as saucers, his grip tightening on Taehyung’s waist. “What?”

“Well, I still owe you an infinite number of thank you blow jobs,” Taehyung says conversationally, speaking over Jeongguk’s protests as he reaches over to lock the door. “Plus, you’re cute when you’re embarrassed and it just makes me want to blow you into the next fucking century so that you believe I want you back.”

Okay, so maybe Taehyung isn’t the most eloquent dirty talker when he’s been drinking, but Jeongguk whines anyway, his dick already stirring when Taehyung palms him sloppily.

“And lastly, I get horny when I’m drunk, and you look like a fucking snack right now,” Taehyung continues, sinking to his knees and smirking up at Jeongguk, who still looks shell-shocked by this turn of events. “So buckle up and enjoy the ride.”

“Holy fuck,” is all Jeongguk says in response.

By the time they return to the back porch 15 minutes later, Jeongguk is grinning giddily again, and he comes easily when Taehyung tugs him back into his previous spot between his legs.

“Everything okay?” Namjoon asks cautiously, still looking guilty.

“All good hyung, don’t worry about it,” Jeongguk reassures him. There’s a hoarseness in his voice that wasn’t there before, and it sends shivers down Taehyung’s spine even though he literally just came (down Jeongguk’s throat) a few minutes ago.

“Sucked the embarrassment right out of him,” Taehyung says sweetly, resting his chin on Jeongguk’s shoulder and wrapping both arms around his stomach.

Jeongguk promptly starts choking on his beer, but luckily the others are too drunk to notice.

***

At the end of the day on Wednesday, Jeongguk comes barreling into the kitchen at full speed, waving his phone in Taehyung’s face.

“I got a letter from NYU!” he shouts, quite literally vibrating with excitement. “My mom just texted me!”

“Holy shit!” Taehyung cries, nearly knocking over a glass of lemonade when he leaps to his feet. “Has she opened it?!”

“No,” Jeongguk shakes his head, chest rising and falling rapidly. “I want to open it myself. But she said it’s a big envelope, that’s usually a good thing, right?”

Taehyung nods immediately. “Definitely!”

“I’m going home to open it now,” Jeongguk explains, practically bouncing on his toes. “Fuck, I’m so nervous.”

Ignoring how sweaty Jeongguk is, Taehyung grabs him and hugs him tightly. “I have a good feeling,” he murmurs into his ear. “Good luck.”

“Thanks, Tae.”

He kisses Taehyung on the cheek and then goes dashing out the door, and Taehyung settles in to wait for the news. A part of him wishes he could have gone with Jeongguk, but he hadn’t wanted to overstep, especially if (God forbid) it turns out to be a rejection. They’ve gotten much closer than Taehyung would have expected over the course of the past two months, but they still aren’t technically boyfriends, and there are boundaries that should be respected. Still, that doesn’t stop Taehyung from spending the next 30 minutes pacing frantically around his kitchen, sending prayers skyward and flinching at every noise his phone makes.

When his phone finally does start ringing with a FaceTime from Jeongguk, Taehyung jumps two feet in the air and nearly shatters the screen in his rush to answer it. A FaceTime call has to be a good sign, right? Jeongguk wouldn’t want to talk to him face to face if he was a blubbering mess right now.

The second Jeongguk’s pixelated face appears on the screen, Taehyung knows he got in. He’s way too close to the screen and he’s grinning ear to ear.

“I GOT IN!!!!!” he yells, his joy palpable even through the phone, and Taehyung doesn’t think he’s been this happy for someone else since Jimin called him to tell him he lost his virginity. “Tae, I fucking GOT IN!”

Taehyung shrieks and jumps up and down, too overcome to form actual words right away. Jeongguk just laughs and cheers with him, wiping tears of happiness away from his eyes.

“I’m so fucking proud of you,” Taehyung says eventually, when he’s collected himself somewhat. “You deserve it Guk, seriously.”

“Thanks,” Jeongguk responds, still cheesing so hard that Taehyung’s afraid his cheeks might break. “God, I can’t believe it.”

“We should celebrate!” Taehyung suggests. “Anything you want, my treat.”

“My parents are taking me out for dinner, but maybe we could meet up after that?” Jeongguk says. “I think we’re going someplace nice but I honestly kind of want a McFlurry.”

Taehyung snorts. “I offer to treat and you pick a McFlurry? You sure are a cheap date.”

“You said anything I want!”

Taehyung laughs, rolling his eyes. “McFlurry it is. Text me when you’re done with dinner.”

When he picks Jeongguk up outside the restaurant a few hours later, Taehyung has to get out of the car so that he can fling himself into Jeongguk’s arms and fully congratulate him in person.

“My little Guk, off to college in the big city!” he cries, squishing Jeongguk’s cheeks. “I’m so proud!”

“Ew, don’t call me that, that’s weird,” Jeongguk protests, although his efforts to squirm out of Taehyung’s grasp are weak at best.

They go through the drive-thru at McDonald’s and then sit in the parking lot in Taehyung’s car, sucking down their milkshakes with the windows rolled down to let in the warm summer night air. Top 40 hits play on the radio and Jeongguk chatters happily about NYU, alternating between excitement, disbelief, and occasional panic when he realizes he’s going to have to pack up his whole life and move to New York in less than a month.

“Now you just need to get that job and everything will be perfect,” he says, giving voice to the thought that’s been nagging at the back of Taehyung’s brain ever since Jeongguk told him the letter from NYU had arrived.

Taehyung sucks noisily at the dregs of his milkshake to avoid having to answer right away. He still hasn’t heard anything from Yoongi, and even though he knows that’s probably normal, it’s making him nervous all the same. “Fingers crossed.”

“I have a good feeling,” Jeongguk says sweetly, echoing Taehyung’s own words from earlier, and Taehyung offers him a weak smile in return.

Despite Jeongguk’s confidence in him, Taehyung doesn’t think the job is a sure thing at all, and now that Jeongguk is definitely going to NYU, the stakes are even higher. He hasn’t heard back from any other companies in New York, so if he doesn’t get this, he’s losing his one chance to move to the city, and probably Jeongguk as well. Taehyung’s not stupid; they’ve been dating for less than two months, and when Jeongguk gets to New York, he’s going to have a million other things to focus on that aren’t Taehyung. It’s not something he feels bitter about, he just knows it’s the reality of the situation.

But tonight is Jeongguk’s night, and Taehyung doesn’t want to weigh him down with his own doubts, so he forces himself to smile brighter and indulges Jeongguk in fantasizing about New York City in the fall. And when Jeongguk pouts down at his empty cup, Taehyung offers to buy him another one.

“Really?” Jeongguk asks, face lighting up. Then he frowns. “Is it bad to have two milkshakes in one sitting?”

Taehyung shrugs, already pulling back into the drive-thru line. “I think it’s okay to make an exception tonight.”

Jeongguk beams at him, bouncing excitedly in the passenger seat, and Taehyung is so impossibly fond of him in that moment that he leans across the console to press a kiss to his lips. Which is how they end up making out in the McDonald’s drive-thru lane until the car behind them honks angrily because they’re holding up the line. They break apart reluctantly, both giggling, and all Taehyung can think is that he really fucking hopes he gets this job, because he can’t imagine having to say goodbye to Jeongguk.

***

Dear Taehyung,

I really hate that I have to write this email, but unfortunately we decided to go with someone else for the Web Developer role. You should know that my boss and I were both really impressed with you, and I swear I advocated for you (even if it’s not professional of me to admit that), but in the end they wanted someone with more experience. I’m sorry. You’ll be the first to know if I hear of any other roles opening up, and don’t hesitate to contact me if you need anything. Good luck with the job search. I hope we see you around New York soon.

Yoongi

The email arrives at 11:42 am on the Tuesday after Jeongguk gets into NYU. They’d spent the whole weekend celebrating (mostly in the form of getting drunk and hooking up), and it had almost been enough to make Taehyung forget that his own future was still uncertain.

But now, this. Now his future is certain, and it’s a future where he’s jobless, still stuck at home, and without Jeongguk.

Taehyung blinks at the computer screen for what feels like hours, the words and letters blurring together until he realizes there are tears in his eyes. It’s stupid, he knows the job had been a long shot to begin with, but it still feels like a punch in the stomach. He’s back at square one now, the only other places he’s heard back from local and unappealing. He’s probably going to be forced to take one of those just to have some sort of income, living at home like a sad loser while Jeongguk frolics around New York with a bunch of hot, artsy NYU boys.

“Tae?”

Taehyung startles, dragging his gaze away from the email to meet Jeongguk’s warm, concerned eyes. He’d been so caught up in his own pity party that he hadn’t even heard him come in.

“Oh my god, is everything okay?”

When Taehyung doesn’t say anything, Jeongguk hurries over to him, kneeling on the ground in front of him and taking Taehyung’s hands in his own. “Tae, what’s wrong?”

“I didn’t get the job in New York,” Taehyung tells him hoarsely, feeling suddenly ashamed. Jeongguk had been able to make his own dreams come true, but clearly Taehyung wasn’t talented enough to do the same.

Jeongguk’s face falls. “Fuck. I’m so sorry, hyung.”

“It’s okay,” Taehyung says, wiping roughly at his eyes and offering Jeongguk a strained smile. It’s really not, but he’s not particularly keen on completely losing it in front of Jeongguk.

“Don’t give up,” Jeongguk says firmly. “This was just your first interview. There are tons of jobs in New York, one of them is bound to work out.”

“I dunno,” Taehyung sighs. “It’s looking pretty bleak right now.”

Jeongguk squeezes his hands. “C’mon, Tae. You can’t send me off to New York all by my lonesome.”

A sob catches in Taehyung’s throat at this, but he swallows it down. He’s not ready to have this conversation with Jeongguk, not now. “Can we just. Not talk about it for a little while?”

Jeongguk nods immediately, standing up. “Of course, hyung, whatever you want. I was gonna see if you wanted to have lunch, but if you’d rather not - ”

“No, I want to,” Taehyung interrupts, standing as well. A distraction would be nice right now. “Let’s eat.”

They spend lunch carefully avoiding the subject of New York, but when it’s time to get back to work, Jeongguk seems reluctant to leave him.

“Are you gonna be okay?” he asks worriedly, his forehead wrinkled in concern. He’s been so sweet and attentive, and it makes Taehyung’s heart hurt. “We can hang out after work if you want, do something fun?”

Taehyung smiles appreciatively but shakes his head. “I already texted Jimin, he’s gonna take me out and get me drunk,” he explains. When Jeongguk continues to frown, he adds: “Don’t worry, Guk, I’ll be fine.”

Jeongguk doesn’t look convinced, but he doesn’t push it, instead leaning forward and kissing Taehyung softly. “Okay. Well, I’m around if you want to talk, or anything.”

Taehyung catches his hand and gives it a grateful squeeze. It means a lot to him that Jeongguk is so eager to help, but right now Taehyung really just needs his best friend.

And several shots of tequila.

Jimin picks Taehyung up from his house as soon as the work day is over, Hoseok in tow since, as Jimin puts it, “he’s literally a walking ray of sunshine.” Without even discussing it they drive to the bar in town with the cheapest liquor, a place where they’ve spent more than a few drunken nights making complete fools of themselves. The lighting is terrible and it always smells like beer, but it’s the perfect setting to drink your sorrows away.

They settle into a booth, Hoseok instructing the bartender to “pour shots and keep them coming” while Jimin tucks Taehyung protectively into his side. This has always been their preferred tactic for consoling each other, by physically attaching at the hip and smothering the other with affection. When Jimin’s college boyfriend dumped him junior year, Taehyung had driven overnight to visit him and they’d cuddled for 48 hours straight.

“There will be other jobs, Tae,” Hoseok says diplomatically after they’ve all downed two shots each. His face is already flushed. “I know it’s hard to believe that right now, but new stuff pops up every day.”

Jimin nods in agreement, running his fingers soothingly through Taehyung’s hair.

“You’re so talented, Taetae, don’t let this get you down,” he murmurs. “You’re going to find a job in New York, you just have to keep at it.”

“I’ve applied to at least 50 places already,” Taehyung says dejectedly. The alcohol is buzzing in his brain, but it’s not doing much to make him feel better. “No one wants me.”

“So apply to 50 more,” Hoseok tells him. “Apply to 100 more. If your dream is to be in New York, don’t stop until somebody bites.”

“What if no one ever responds?” Taehyung groans, resting his forehead on the tabletop and immediately flinching back when he realizes it’s sticky. “What if I’m stuck here forever?”

“Thinking like that isn’t going to get you anywhere,” Jimin advises. “But in the meantime, you have us to keep you company.”

Hoseok nods encouragingly.

“Jeongguk’s going to forget about me,” Taehyung mopes, prompting Hoseok to frantically signal the bartender for another round of shots. “He’s going to go to New York and meet some cute guy who makes indie films about garbage and has no gag reflex, and I’ll be stuck here jerking off to his Snapchat stories in my childhood bedroom.”

Jimin wrinkles his nose in disgust, but Hoseok just raises his eyebrows, unfazed.

“You do realize Jeongguk has had a crush on you for the past like, five years, right?” he says. “He literally changed his summer job so he could have a chance with you.”

God, Jeongguk is so cute. Taehyung wishes he was here right now.

“This is different, New York is far away and way more interesting than community college,” he protests. The shots arrive and he downs his before Hoseok and Jimin can even lift their glasses. “Jeongguk should be able to dive into his life there without being tied down to some hometown loser.”

There’s a sharp smack at the back of his head, and both Jimin and Hoseok glare at him.

“Kim Taehyung!” Jimin says sternly. “You are not allowed to refer to my best friend as a loser!”

Taehyung sulks, tracing his finger around the rim of his shot glass to avoid Jimin’s gaze.

“I mean it,” Jimin continues. “I’ll support you getting drunk and wallowing, but I will not listen to you be down on yourself, is that clear?”

Taehyung huffs but nods, resting his head on Jimin’s shoulder in defeat. “Sorry, I know. I’m just sad.”

“I know,” Jimin says gently, petting his hair again. “You should talk to Jeongguk.”

“I will,” Taehyung agrees heavily. “This weekend, probably.”

“What are you going to say?” Hoseok asks.

A pit forms in Taehyung’s stomach when he thinks about it.

“I’m hoping we can finish out the summer and then stay in touch when he goes to school,” Taehyung tells them. “I don’t think it’s gonna be fair to either of us to try to date long distance. We’re not even officially boyfriends.”

Jimin and Hoseok both look as disappointed by this news as Taehyung feels, but they don’t argue with him. That’s the worst part about this - as painful as it is to admit, Taehyung knows he’s right. He and Jeongguk can’t build a long distance relationship on the foundation of a summer fling. Even if nothing about what they have actually feels like a fling.

“That really sucks,” Hoseok says finally. “I’m sorry, Tae.”

“When does he leave?” Jimin asks.

“Three weeks,” Taehyung replies, and somehow saying it out loud feels even more terrible than thinking it. “Not even.”

Jimin hugs him tighter while Hoseok tries to get the bartender’s attention again. In the background, someone puts a shitty country song on the jukebox and starts singing along off-key.

“Sounds like we need another round.”

***

“Any update on the job situation?”

It’s Jeongguk asking, the two of them seated side by side on a bench in the park they’d gone to on their first date. They’d gotten slushies at 7-11 and then wandered around for a while, ending up here when they’d grown tired of walking. Jeongguk’s lips are stained red from the cherry flavor he’d picked, making him look infinitely kissable, and Taehyung has spent the past half hour focusing on that and avoiding the topic of their future.

But now Jeongguk has brought it up, and Taehyung supposes this is a sign that he can’t avoid it anymore. It’s been four days since he got the rejection email from Yoongi, Jeongguk is leaving in two weeks, and Taehyung needs to deal with his life. The hangover that he’d woken up to on Wednesday morning had reminded him that, sadly, alcohol cannot solve his problems for him.

“Nothing,” Taehyung sighs, steeling himself as he kicks at a loose tuft of grass. “But I’ve been thinking - you’re moving soon, like really soon, and we should probably talk about what’s going to happen. With, um, us.”

Jeongguk’s shoulders slump, bottom lip pushing out in a pout, and Taehyung tries not to be too endeared. “Do we have to?”

No, Taehyung wants to say. Let’s totally ignore reality and make out instead.

But he doesn’t say that, because he knows they need to have this conversation. Does this mean he’s turning into an adult, or something?

“You’ve been the brightest part of my summer, Jeongguk,” Taehyung begins, his heart tightening at how true the words are. “I thought I was gonna be miserable and confused, and well, I’m still confused, but - I haven’t been miserable, and it’s thanks to you.”

Jeongguk regards him with round, sad eyes, and Taehyung suspects he already knows where this is going. Still, he says:

“Me too, hyung.”

Two minutes into this conversation, and Taehyung already feels like crying. Cool. Off to a good start. He offers Jeongguk a weak smile before continuing.

“But - we’re gonna be four hours apart. Neither of us has the money to make that trip often, and there’s gonna be so much new stuff going on in your life.” Taehyung sighs shakily, and his throat feels raw, tender. “We’ve only really been doing - this - for what, six, seven weeks? And as much as I don’t want to say this, I think it would be a mistake to try to do it long distance.”

Jeongguk blinks at him, his expression difficult to decipher. “So you’re ending it?” he asks eventually.

Taehyung’s heart sinks. He wants to reach out and touch Jeongguk, but he’s not sure if that would be appropriate right now.

“I want to finish out the summer, if you’re willing,” he says, praying that Jeongguk agrees. He can’t bear the thought of this being their goodbye. “But when you leave, I think we should try to just be friends.”

Jeongguk lets out a long sigh, nodding. His empty slushie cup sits on the ground by his feet, smears of red still visible around the edges, and Taehyung stares at that while he waits for Jeongguk to respond.

“Okay,” he says, finally. “I don’t want to say it either, but I know you’re right.”

An odd mixture of relief and resignation fills Taehyung. He’s glad that he and Jeongguk are on the same page, that Jeongguk isn’t getting upset - his biggest fear had been starting a fight and pushing them apart sooner than necessary. But the outcome is still sad, because Jeongguk is still leaving and their time together now has an official deadline.

“This fucking sucks,” Jeongguk adds, staring moodily out at the pond as if it’s to blame for forcing them apart. Taehyung thinks back to their first date, their first kiss, how nervous and shy Jeongguk had been. He would give anything to go back to that right now and do it all over again. “I finally found a reason to want to stay in this dumb town, and now I have to leave.”

“There will be lots of reasons to want to stay in New York,” Taehyung says diplomatically, aware that he’s making an argument against himself. Still, the last thing he wants is for Jeongguk to not enjoy New York to the fullest, not because of him. “It’s gonna be great.”

“Yeah,” Jeongguk concedes, glancing sideways at Taehyung. “I’m just really gonna miss you.”

Taehyung swallows, tears stinging at his eyes. “Me too,” he breathes out, finally giving in and shifting closer to Jeongguk, resting his head on his shoulder. “We’ll still talk and stuff, though. If you want.”

“Of course,” Jeongguk says. His cheek brushes against the top of Taehyung’s head as he nods.

There’s silence for a while then, the two of them lost in their own thoughts. Taehyung plays with Jeongguk’s fingers; Jeongguk continues to stare out at the pond. The night darkens around them, a persistent layer of clouds blocking the stars from view. It feels fittingly somber.

“I want to have sex before,” Jeongguk blurts out eventually, prompting Taehyung to whip his head up so quickly he nearly smacks Jeongguk’s jaw. “I mean, like - you know.”

He fidgets, looking equal parts determined and sheepish, and it’s too dark to tell but Taehyung feels quite certain he’s blushing furiously. For his part, Taehyung’s mind is reeling. They’ve fooled around a decent amount at this point, enough that Taehyung would say he’s well acquainted with Jeongguk’s dick, but they haven’t quite gotten to penetrative sex yet - partly because circumstance has limited them, but also partly because neither of them has been too keen on rushing things. But now - now their time is limited, and even though Taehyung knows it will probably make saying goodbye even harder, he can’t imagine saying no.

“Okay,” he says quietly, smiling when Jeongguk sags with relief. “I - me too.”

“Cool,” Jeongguk nods. “I mean - yeah. Good.”

Taehyung snorts, hauling Jeongguk in by the collar of his shirt and kissing him. Jeongguk responds eagerly, hand falling to Taehyung’s knee, and Taehyung tells himself to revel in this while he can, to make the most of the next two weeks without dwelling on what’s to come. The prospect of them having sex helps, something to look forward to even when the rest of him wants to dig his heels in and refuse to let go of the right now.

“Let’s not talk about you leaving for a while, alright?” Taehyung says, pulling back to take a breath.

Jeongguk nods, tugging him back in and kissing his agreement into Taehyung’s mouth.

***

The next week passes far faster than Taehyung would have liked. He sees Jeongguk every day, and they make a point to focus on the exciting stuff about New York, not the sad parts. He hears about how Jeongguk got his housing assignment (a closet-sized single) and is signing up for his classes, emailing professors to try to beg his way into the ones that are already full. Taehyung even tags along when Jeongguk goes shopping for new school supplies, oohing and aahing over the notebooks with fantastical patterns on them while Jeongguk pointedly ignores him and picks all black ones.

The sex thing continues to linger in the back (and front) of Taehyung’s mind, the logistics of it all proving to be the most complicated part. He’d rather have it happen naturally, feels weird about setting a date and time for them to have sex for the first time, but since they both live with their parents they very rarely have a house to themselves during non-working hours. It’s one thing to sneak in a quick blow job in the backseat of a car, but for sex - especially first-time-with-each-other sex - Taehyung thinks there should probably be a bed involved.

(Call him old-fashioned.)

In the end, fate smiles on them, although it’s not all that obvious at first.

It starts with a thick blanket of gray clouds, hovering low and heavy in the sky from the time Taehyung wakes up in the morning. Around the end of the day, it starts drizzling, a cold, spitting rain that sends the work crew home and Jeongguk inside to dry off. He lingers for a while, reluctant to ride his bike home in this weather, and perhaps more so reluctant to leave Taehyung. With the countdown approaching one week, they’ve both been clingier than usual, seizing on every opportunity to spend time together.

Their first stroke of luck comes when Taehyung’s mother calls to inform him that she and his father will not be coming home tonight; the roads are bad by their offices, trees down and flash flooding making it too dangerous to drive. Taehyung can see the sky darkening outside as she tells him to stay inside and be careful, wind picking up and making the trees in the backyard sway and bend. He hums along to reassure her, leaving out the part where Jeongguk is with him as he promises to stay safe.

Ten minutes later, the power goes out, and with it, any chance of Jeongguk going home.

It’s raining harder now, coming down in sheets that pound against the roof and windows. The backyard is nothing more than a wet, shapeless blur, cast into eerie relief only by sporadic flashes of lightning. The subsequent cracks of thunder are loud enough that they seem to shake the entire house.

Jeongguk’s mother calls then, frantic with worry that Jeongguk is caught out in the storm. Taehyung listens while he apologizes and promises her he’s safe, eyes tracing the line of Jeongguk’s body as he leans against the kitchen counter. He knows he’s staring, but he’s trying to soak in as much of Jeongguk as possible before he has to say goodbye.

Jeongguk’s eyes go round at something his mother says, and Taehyung raises his eyebrows curiously, further intrigued when Jeongguk blushes. He drops Taehyung’s gaze, looking down at the counter as he agrees to whatever she’s saying and then says goodbye.

“What’s up?” Taehyung asks as soon as Jeongguk sets the phone down and straightens up.

“She wants me to stay here for the night,” Jeongguk says, rubbing the back of his head and looking sheepish. “If that’s okay? She doesn’t want me out on the roads, and the storm’s supposed to go pretty late.”

“Of course that’s okay,” Taehyung agrees, butterflies erupting in his stomach at the prospect of having Jeongguk here alone for an entire night. He suspects Jeongguk’s thoughts are following a similar route, if the blush is anything to go by. “That’s awesome.”

Jeongguk grins. “Cool.”

It’s approaching dinner time, so they set to work salvaging anything perishable from the refrigerator, laying out a feast on the long kitchen table: leftover steak and noodles from the night before, a fruit salad, a six-pack of beer, and a tub of ice cream rescued from the freezer. They dig in, starting with the ice cream so it doesn’t melt, talking and laughing as the rain continues to fall and darkness creeps in. By the time they finish, it’s fully nighttime, and they have to use Jeongguk’s phone flashlight and a few candles that Taehyung managed to find to guide their way upstairs.

Now that the worst of the lightning and thunder has died down, Jeongguk slips into the bathroom to shower, taking some of Taehyung’s clothes with him. Taehyung flits nervously around his room while he waits for him, arranging the candles so that they bathe most of the room in a warm, flickering glow. His stomach squirms with nerves as he thinks about what’s going to happen when Jeongguk gets out of the shower, wondering what Jeongguk is thinking, what he’s expecting. He wonders if Jeongguk will want to top, flushing when his mind wanders to an image of Jeongguk fucking him into the wall.

He’s so caught up in his own thoughts that he doesn’t even hear the door to the bathroom opening, startling when Jeongguk steps into his line of vision. He looks fresh and absolutely edible in another pair of Taehyung’s sweats, T-shirt clinging to his still damp body, and Taehyung wants to drop to his knees and worship whatever deity decided this gorgeous human should want to have sex with him.

“Nice mood lighting,” Jeongguk observes, surveying the candles.

“I’m trying to woo you,” Taehyung teases, even though he can feel his heart in his throat. “Is it working?”

Jeongguk snorts, crossing the room and dropping down next to him on the bed. “I was already wooed.”

Taehyung’s heart swells and aches at the same time.

“House to ourselves and a bunch of candles lit,” he says, admiring the way the candlelight throws patterns over Jeongguk’s face. “What ever can we do?”

“Hmm,” Jeongguk hums, pretending to think about it. “Seance?”

Taehyung laughs, flicking his arm. And then they just sit there, looking at each other, the mood gradually becoming more serious. Slowly, Taehyung lifts his hand to Jeongguk’s cheek, thumb grazing over his jaw line as he angles him in for a kiss.

“Do you want to?” he asks quietly when they break apart, his forehead still pressed against Jeongguk’s.

Jeongguk swallows, then nods. “Yes.” He licks his lips, clearly nervous, and Taehyung finds his hand, squeezing it gently.

“You sure?”

“Yes,” Jeongguk repeats, pulling Taehyung in for another kiss, and Taehyung’s stomach does a backflip.

He’s going to have sex with Jeongguk. He’s going to have fucking sex with Jeon Jeongguk. It’s not like Taehyung is lacking in sexual experience, but it’s been a long time since he had sex that actually meant something. And it’s been maybe forever since he was this exhilarated about it.

They kiss for a while, both of them ironically shy to push too far now that they know where this is going. Gradually, Taehyung gets Jeongguk flat on his back, shirts stripped off as he straddles him and kisses over his chest. This is what Taehyung has longed for from the beginning, the chance to take his time with Jeongguk, worship his body and lavish him with attention. He’s utterly gorgeous, effortlessly sexy, squirming when Taehyung laps at his nipples, shy little sounds falling from his lips. Taehyung lets his hands roam up and down the length of Jeongguk’s torso, just feeling, tracing over the bumps of his rib cage, the curve of his waist.

When they’re both hard, Taehyung moves back up to his mouth, tongue pressing past Jeongguk’s lips as he rolls his hips down. They both groan, Jeongguk’s hands flying to Taehyung’s waist and pulling him down harder. His fingers feel rough against the soft skin of Taehyung’s hips, grip just strong enough to belie how riled up he already is. His erection is prominent against Taehyung’s, obvious in the flexible fabric of his sweats, and Taehyung needs to actively remind himself not to get off just by rutting against him.

“How do you want to do this?” Taehyung breathes, pulling back from sucking a dark hickey into Jeongguk’s neck. Their chests are pressed together, bare skin overheated and hypersensitive.

Jeongguk hesitates, staring up at him with dark eyes, hair a mess. His lips part but he doesn’t say anything, seemingly struggling with himself.

“I like both,” Taehyung offers, hoping to put him at ease. “I can bottom if you’re more comfortable with that. Believe me, it would be my immense pleasure to ride you.”

Jeongguk’s eyelids flutter at that, a whimper slipping up his throat. Taehyung ducks down to kiss him. “Whatever you want.”

They get caught up in kissing again, Jeongguk’s hands tangling in Taehyung’s hair, head falling to the side when Taehyung’s lips graze over his neck. He seems to still be working through something, but Taehyung doesn’t push it, is patient to let Jeongguk get there on his own.

“Tae,” Jeongguk says eventually, prompting Taehyung to lift his head and look down at him. His voice is higher than usual, a little breathless.

“Yeah, Guk,” Taehyung prompts when he hesitates.

“I want - ” he swallows, licks his lips again. His cheeks are rosy in the candlelight, a sweet contrast to the hardness pressing against Taehyung’s hip. “Will you - ah. I want to try - . I mean. Will you top?” It’s barely more than a whisper, Jeongguk’s eyes squeezing shut when he says it.

Heat sizzles down Taehyung’s spine, an unexpected but not at all unwelcome slew of images flooding his brain. Jeongguk tight around him, Jeongguk writhing below him, Jeongguk coming apart under his touch. Taehyung likes bottoming, hopes to bottom with Jeongguk before he leaves, but suddenly it feels like a unique privilege to top during their first time together. Especially considering that Jeongguk clearly had to work himself up to asking for that.

“Fuck,” Taehyung exhales, arousal stirring in his gut. “Fuck, yeah. Okay.”

Jeongguk opens his eyes, but he doesn’t relax in relief the way Taehyung had expected him to - instead, he still seems tense, nervous. A thought occurs to Taehyung.

“Guk,” he says, scratching his fingers soothingly through Jeongguk’s hair. “Are you - I mean, have you done this before?” His hand trails down, tugging lightly at Jeongguk’s ear. “It’s okay if you haven’t.”

Outside, the rain continues to fall, a steady, soothing thrum. Taehyung feels warm and safe tangled up with Jeongguk, even though his whole body is charged with nerves.

“I’m not a virgin,” Jeongguk tells him, eyes wide and vulnerable. “But, umm. I haven’t - I’ve never bottomed.”

“Oh,” Taehyung nods, the pieces starting to fit together. “But - you want to?” A touch of disbelief. “With me?”

Jeongguk nods, the color high on his cheeks. “I trust you.”

Taehyung’s heart swoops, soars, and pirouettes in his chest.

“Yeah,” he breathes out, trying to keep his cool. He feels suddenly protective of Jeongguk, eager to put him at ease. “Yeah, I’ll take care of you.”

Jeongguk whimpers, hips shifting against Taehyung’s, and Taehyung dips down to kiss him again, fireworks exploding in his brain. This is not at all how he was expecting his day to go when he woke up this morning, but he sure feels like one lucky bastard right now. He thinks about being inside of Jeongguk, being the first person ever to be inside of Jeongguk, and he’s pretty sure his brain might actually implode.

“Okay,” Taehyung says, not even bothering to hide the shake in his voice. Jeongguk should know the effect that he has on him. “Okay. Have you ever taken fingers?”

The blush on Jeongguk’s cheeks grows even fiercer than before, and he throws his forearm over his eyes before nodding. “Yes,” he whispers. “Just - my own.”

Taehyung’s brain immediately supplies him with a few helpful images of that, and heat pools in his stomach. “Okay,” he says hoarsely, gently prying Jeongguk’s arm away from his face. Bending down, he kisses both of Jeongguk’s cheekbones, absorbing the warmth radiating there. “That’s good. Did you like it?”

Jeongguk nods, shivering when Taehyung trails his knuckles along his waistband. “Wanted them to be yours,” he admits, closing his eyes again, and Taehyung groans, cock twitching.

“Fuck, Guk.”

He moves his hand to run over Jeongguk’s cock in his sweats, pleased when he finds a small wet spot already forming there.

“So nice and long, Tae,” Jeongguk murmurs, breathless, twisting under Taehyung’s touch. “I want - ”

When he cuts himself off, Taehyung surges forward to kiss him, hot and sloppy. Jeongguk’s arms come up around him, hands sliding over his lower back, down to his ass. It’s perfect and hot and delicious here, draped over Jeongguk’s body, and it’s only the prospect of getting inside of Jeongguk that has Taehyung dragging himself away, fumbling for the lube tucked far in the back of his bedside table. It’s a struggle - there’s an alarming moment where he nearly knocks over a candle and sets the whole house on fire - but he ultimately retrieves it with a triumphant noise that makes Jeongguk blush and giggle.

Then Taehyung is shifting down Jeongguk’s body, kissing at his flat stomach before sitting back on his heels and surveying the picture before him. Jeongguk is stunning as always, candlelight dancing across the faint sheen of sweat on his skin, shadows darkening the sharp dip of his collarbones. He looks soft and sexy and vulnerable, bottom lip caught between his teeth, gaze trained on Taehyung, tracking his every move.

Taehyung hooks his fingers in the waistband of Jeongguk’s boxers and tugs, dragging them down along with his sweats, helping Jeongguk get them all the way off. He kicks off his own pants as well, adding them to the heap on the floor, hoping Jeongguk will feel a little less exposed if Taehyung is mostly naked too. And then he’s settled between Jeongguk’s legs, admiring the way his cock curves up towards his abdomen, stomach lurching when he lets his gaze wander a little further south.

“Bend your legs for me?” Taehyung asks gently, surprised at how raw his own voice sounds. He’s so fucking gone for Jeongguk, it’s almost embarrassing.

Jeongguk shuts his eyes but obeys, clearly willing himself past a deeply ingrained sense of modesty when he spreads his legs and plants his feet on the mattress. Taehyung resists the urge to moan openly, instead pressing a kiss to the inside of Jeongguk’s knee, hands running soothingly over his calves. He moves down Jeongguk’s inner thigh, sucking light marks into the tender skin, satisfied by the redness that blooms there.

“Got such nice thighs, Guk,” he murmurs, dragging his tongue over one of the marks.
“Noticed from the very beginning.”

It’s true, but he says it mostly to distract Jeongguk from the sound of the lube bottle opening, a generous amount spilling into Taehyung’s palm. Jeongguk squirms, tries to close his legs but fails because Taehyung is situated between them.

“Tae,” he says weakly.

“If you don’t want to, we can stop,” Taehyung tells him earnestly. “Jeonggukkie, look at me.”

Jeongguk opens his eyes, so round and doe-like it makes Taehyung’s heart ache with fondness.

“I mean it, okay? Say the word and we’ll stop. You can fuck me, or we can cuddle, or... well, I don’t want to have a seance, that’s creepy, but anything else.”

He offers Jeongguk what he hopes is a charming smile and is happy when he returns it, lips twitching upwards of their own accord.

“Scaredy cat,” Jeongguk teases, the jab undermined by his voice shaking slightly, but Taehyung doesn’t protest, just lets him take the win like the lovesick idiot he is. Watches as Jeongguk’s smile dissolves and he sets his jaw, holding Taehyung’s gaze. “I want to Tae, I swear. I just - go easy on me.”

“‘Course,” Taehyung says immediately, leaning forward to kiss him firmly. Jeongguk’s response is eager, pent up tension spilling from his lips, and Taehyung thinks they’re going to be just fine. Pulling back, he keeps his mouth close to Jeongguk’s and whispers: “Gonna make you feel so good, Guk. I promise. I promise.”

Jeongguk nods, whimpering, and Taehyung sits back again, coating his fingers in lube and pressing one of Jeongguk’s legs back further. “Ready?” he asks, rolling his thumb around the head of Jeongguk’s cock, fingernails grazing lightly down the side.

A deep breath, followed by a nod.

“Tell me, Guk,” Taehyung presses, fingers skipping down over his balls, teasing at his perineum. Centimeters away from his ultimate destination.

Jeongguk’s hips jerk, a whine slipping out. “Please,” he says, and God, sweet fucking hell, he is beautiful.

Continuing his path downward, Taehyung traces the rim of his hole with his index finger, brushing over the hot, puckered flesh with something akin to reverence. The sounds Jeongguk makes are breathtaking, these high little moans that have Taehyung dizzy with want as he nudges his first finger inside. Jeongguk gasps sharply and Taehyung looks up to check on him, wiggling his finger experimentally.

“Good?” he asks, his voice cracked open, brain reduced to mush at how tight Jeongguk feels around him. Around just one finger.

“Yeah, fuck,” Jeongguk confirms, not sounding any better. “Fuck.”

Taehyung takes his time, peppering kisses along Jeongguk’s thighs, working his finger slowly so that Jeongguk can adjust to the stretch. His body relaxes gradually, but Taehyung is still caught off guard when he hears a raspy voice from above him.

“Another?” Jeongguk asks, shy but determined, and Taehyung nearly falls off the bed in his rush to comply.

“Feels good?” Taehyung prompts, easing another finger in, slick with lube. As someone who tended to attract guys that insisted on topping, he’d almost forgotten how intoxicating it could feel to be inside of someone, the heat and the intimacy of it. It makes arousal stir liquid in his stomach, makes his cock ache with need.

“I - oh,” Jeongguk hisses, fisting at the sheets when Taehyung scissors his fingers experimentally. “Yeah, s’good.”

They gradually work up to a third finger, Jeongguk’s muscles tensing and relaxing, Taehyung tracking the movement in his stomach and thighs. His hips start to circle in time with Taehyung’s fingers, taking him deeper, getting more comfortable with the sensation.

“Doing so well, Guk,” Taehyung praises, stroking Jeongguk’s walls, petting at his side with his free hand. He can’t stop staring, at the way Jeongguk looks stretched out on the bed, at the way his fingers look disappearing into Jeongguk’s ass. “You look so fucking sexy.”

Jeongguk lets out a high-pitched whimper, heels slipping over the sheets. “Nghh, Tae,” he gasps. “Tae, can you find - I, ah, it’s hard to reach by myself - ”

Taehyung’s fingers brush over his prostate right as he registers what Jeongguk is asking for, making him jolt and let out a positively guttural groan.

“That what you meant?” Taehyung asks, having the audacity to act cheeky even though he’s completely fucking wrecked himself. He withdraws his fingers and then brings them back to the same spot, lust smoldering in his stomach at the way Jeongguk fucks down against him.

“Oh, fuck, yes,” he pants, face twisting with pleasure. “Jesus, your fingers, I - ”

“Thought about this a lot?” Taehyung grits out, losing control of his tongue. He imagines Jeongguk alone in his bed, two fingers deep, struggling to reach his prostate and wishing Taehyung was there to do it for him, and he just fucking loses it. “Thought about hyung’s fingers when you touched yourself?”

“Holy fuck,” Jeongguk groans, sounding utterly destroyed, his back bending up off the mattress when Taehyung’s fingers curl over his prostate again. “Shit, Taehyung, you better fuck me before I come.”

“Fuck, okay,” Taehyung says breathlessly, withdrawing his fingers from Jeongguk, kissing his stomach apologetically when he whines at the loss. He fumbles with a condom, hissing when he wraps a hand around his neglected cock, jerking it sloppily as he coats himself with lube. Leaning forward, he positions himself at Jeongguk’s entrance, feels him flinch when the head of Taehyung’s cock grazes against his aching hole.

“Okay, Guk, ready?” Taehyung asks, meeting Jeongguk’s eyes.

“Yes,” Jeongguk whispers, and Taehyung ducks down to kiss him gently, feels Jeongguk’s mouth open against his own when Taehyung pushes inside of him.

Stars quite literally explode behind Taehyung’s eyes, pleasure spiking through him as Jeongguk clenches around his cock. It’s so hot, so slick, so tight, and it takes every ounce of willpower in his body to go slowly, allow Jeongguk time to adjust.

“Oh, fuck,” Jeongguk breathes raggedly, fingers digging into Taehyung’s arms hard enough to bruise. “Holy shit.”

“You feel fucking incredible,” Taehyung murmurs, words pressed to Jeongguk’s forehead. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I just - it’s different,” Jeongguk says, laughing breathlessly. “One sec.”

“‘Kay.”

Taehyung busies himself with dropping kisses along Jeongguk’s jaw, taking Jeongguk’s ear lobe between his teeth in a fit of boldness. Jeongguk gasps, hips lurching and making them both groan when Taehyung shifts inside of him.

“Go,” Jeongguk grunts, rocking his hips down again and effectively making Taehyung’s brain short circuit. “Go, Tae.”

And Taehyung does. He fucks into Jeongguk and it’s graceless and erratic but it’s good too, raw and sexy and hot. It makes him wonder why he’s ever done anything other than fucking Jeongguk, how he’s lived 22 years of his life without knowing what this feels like. What he does know is there’s no going back now - Jeongguk has ruined him for anyone else.

In a development that surprises precisely no one, Jeongguk proves to be a quick learner, working out how to meet Taehyung’s thrusts almost immediately. He moves his hips with an assuredness that has Taehyung’s eyes rolling back in his head, making him quite confident that he will literally beg Jeongguk to fuck him before this week is over. But for now, he loses himself in the feeling of being inside of Jeongguk, the drag against his cock each time he pulls back, the tight heat dizzying. The stillness around them seems to add to the intensity of it all, no hum of electricity, no cars passing outside - just the splatter of the rain, the spitting of the candles, and the slick sound of skin moving against skin.

The muscles in Taehyung’s arms ache from the strain of holding himself up, and he shifts back on to his knees, pulling Jeongguk with him, halfway into his lap. The new angle makes Jeongguk’s body shake with a moan, Taehyung’s cock driving more directly against his prostate. His head presses back against the mattress, throat exposed and glistening with sweat, and Taehyung finds himself wishing he was close enough to lean forward and lick it.

“Talk to me,” Taehyung implores, sounding more like a plea than a demand. He just wants to hear Jeongguk’s voice, make sure that this is as good for him as it is for Taehyung. “Tell me how you feel.”

“So good,” Jeongguk pants, voice slipping higher with each thrust of Taehyung’s hips. His legs are locked around Taehyung’s waist, ankles digging into his lower back. “You’re so hot, Taehyung, I’m so - fuck. Been thinking about this since I was 15.”

Fuck,” Taehyung growls, stunned. With renewed fervor, he fits his hands around Jeongguk’s slim waist, pulling him down against his cock each time he fucks into him. He just wants to fuck Jeongguk into a new plane of existence, make this worth the wait.

“Oh god,” Jeongguk moans, tone turning almost frantic. “Tae, Tae, I’m close, please - ”

His cock, neglected until now, lies flushed and leaking heavily on his stomach. Taehyung reaches for it, feels it throb in his hand as he starts stroking Jeongguk jerkily, hips stuttering. “Got you Guk, c’mon, come on,” he urges.

He watches in real time as Jeongguk comes, sees the way his face goes slack with pleasure, hole clenching around Taehyung as he releases all over his own stomach. His hold around Taehyung’s waist loosens, and Taehyung tilts forward again, fucking him through it as he feels his own orgasm start to creep up on him.

He comes with his face pressed into Jeongguk’s neck, tasting the sweat there as the pleasure crests and then washes over him. With a contented groan, he collapses onto Jeongguk’s chest, wincing a little at the sticky mess between them but too fucked out to care. They stay like that until it becomes uncomfortable, Jeongguk starting to squirm as Taehyung’s cock softens inside of him.

“Tae,” Jeongguk whines, giggling a little when Taehyung responds with a dazed “mmf.” “Tae, come on.”

“Sorry,” Taehyung says, voice rough. He works himself up to his elbows and slides out of Jeongguk as gently as possible, tying off the condom and dropping it into the waste basket beside his bed - he’ll have to find something more discreet to do with it before his parents get home, but now is not the time for that. “I think you fucked my brains out.”

Jeongguk blushes but laughs gleefully, kicking Taehyung’s calf with his heel. “Likewise.”

“Yeah?” Taehyung asks, ecstatic. “You feel good?”

“Feel incredible,” Jeongguk confirms, sounding happy and satisfied.

“Good,” Taehyung says, relieved. “Here, let me - ” Standing on wobbly legs, he retrieves a wet washcloth from the bathroom and uses it to clean them both off, first Jeongguk, then himself. He catches Jeongguk’s eyes as he works and finds him smiling softly, a fond expression on his face.

“Thanks,” he says when Taehyung sets the washcloth down and stretches out next to him. Head propped up on one hand, he watches Jeongguk’s brow furrow as he searches for words. “And thanks for being so nice and chill about it being my first time doing... this,” he adds, gesturing vaguely. “You’re good with me, Tae. I feel like you get me.”

“Of course,” Taehyung replies, warmth blooming in his stomach. “Thanks for telling me, and trusting me. I’m really glad I got to be the one you did this with.”

Jeongguk smiles at him, bunny teeth peeking out. “Me too.”

“And for the record - I feel the same way,” Taehyung says, trailing his finger in haphazard patterns over Jeongguk’s chest. “You get me.” He stops himself from tacking on the second part of that sentence, about how that makes this all so much harder. He doesn’t want to dwell on that tonight, not when they’ve just shared the most incredible experience, not when they still have the whole night ahead of them.

“So what now?” Jeongguk asks. “It’s still early.”

“Hmm,” Taehyung hums, considering. “Some snuggling, some deep conversations...” he pauses, wiggling his eyebrows at Jeongguk. “Round two, perhaps?”

Jeongguk blanches, eyes going wide. “I don’t know if my ass can take it.”

“Who said anything about your ass?” Taehyung purrs, delighted with the strangled noise Jeongguk makes when he realizes what Taehyung is implying.

And the rest of the night passes exactly like that - with a lot of snuggling, a lot of talking, and, when they’re feeling up to it, round two. It’s different in a beautiful way, Jeongguk’s eyes round and awed when Taehyung sinks down on his cock, his grip on Taehyung’s hips gentle but firm. His forehead drops against Taehyung’s sternum when he comes, body shaking in Taehyung’s arms, Taehyung pressing kisses to the top of his head. They drop into bed exhausted when it’s over, limbs tangled together, sleep claiming them easily as the rain fades to a drizzle outside.

It’s the best night of Taehyung’s summer by far.

***

The sex makes everything more complicated, just like Taehyung knew it would. After that night, he feels closer to Jeongguk than he ever has before, and it’s wonderful and excruciating at the same time. He doesn’t regret it, not one bit, but there’s a sort of exquisite pain that comes with falling harder and harder for someone even as you know you’re about to lose them.

Neither of them wants to talk about it, so they don’t. They kiss and touch instead, bodies locking together every chance they get, frantic and desperate. That last week is a blur of hot skin and blinked back tears, everything heightened and emotional. Taehyung is hanging on by a single fucking thread, willing himself not to lose it until Jeongguk is gone.

On Jeongguk’s last night, they pick up milkshakes from the McDonald’s drive thru and head to the baseball diamond behind their high school, stretching out on the grass and staring up at the sky. It’s a clear night and the stars are visible, little pinpricks scattered across the vast darkness. Taehyung recognizes the Big Dipper and Orion’s Belt, but his knowledge of constellations stops there.

“Bet I won’t be able to see any stars in New York,” Jeongguk comments, fiddling idly with a blade of grass. It might just be because this is the last time Taehyung is going to see him, but he looks unfairly good tonight - dark hair falling across his forehead, effortlessly handsome and masculine in a simple t-shirt and jeans. It makes Taehyung’s fingers itch with the urge to touch.

“There’s one thing to miss about the suburbs,” Taehyung replies. The grass is cool against his back, still faintly damp from when it had rained early this morning.

Jeongguk kicks him in the shin.

“Ow!” Taehyung huffs, turning his head to look at him. “What was that for?”

“I’m going to miss you, idiot,” Jeongguk says, exasperated.

Taehyung feels his throat closing up, that familiar stinging behind his eyes. He’s trying his best to enjoy his last night with Jeongguk, but his impending departure weighs heavy on Taehyung’s chest, threatening to crush him. It’s a matter of hours now, each precious second slipping through his fingers like sand, Taehyung powerless to stop it.

“I’m gonna miss you too, Guk,” he chokes out, his voice raw, raspy.

A few moments of silence pass, and Taehyung tries to calm himself down, find an anchor in the ground beneath his back, the sky above his head. They’ll still be here even when Jeongguk isn’t.

“Tae?” Jeongguk says quietly. He’s rolled up on to his side, head braced on his palm, and the new angle highlights the intoxicating dip of his waist. Dragging his eyes away from that and up to meet Jeongguk’s gaze, Taehyung hums in acknowledgement. “You’ll still talk to me when I’m in New York, right?”

Taehyung raises his eyebrows, caught off guard by the question. “Of course, Guk.”

“Okay,” Jeongguk nods, frowning. “I just - I know we’re supposed to be taking space, and stuff, but I still want to be able to tell you stuff, you know? And I don’t want you to distance yourself because you think you’re holding me back, or some bullshit.”

Taehyung blinks at him, both surprised and impressed that Jeongguk has read him so easily.

“I know that’s what you’re thinking, and it’s dumb, Taehyung, okay?” Jeongguk continues, brow furrowed. “So just, don’t. Promise me?”

“I just want you to get the most out of being in New York,” Taehyung says helplessly. “Being apart, just being friends - it’s gonna suck at first. I just don’t want to make it harder, or more confusing.”

Jeongguk huffs out a frustrated sigh, flopping face forward onto the grass. Taehyung thinks it’s ironic that they’re having this conversation on the baseball diamond, the scene of the early days of Jeongguk’s crush on him. Back then, Jeongguk had been the one longing for him, feeling like Taehyung was just out of reach. Now, Taehyung thinks it’s the other way around.

“Yeah, I know,” Jeongguk grumbles, resting his cheek on the back of his folded hands. “Just - fuck, I hate this. I wish I could bring you with me.”

For the umpteenth time in the past few days, Taehyung wills himself not to cry, to stay level-headed for both of their sakes. “It’ll be okay,” he says reassuringly, because he knows for Jeongguk, it will be. He strokes a hand over the younger boy’s back, tracing the distinct jut of his shoulder blades. “You’ll be settled in and having the time of your life in no time.”

“I’m not gonna know anyone,” Jeongguk whines, hiding his face in his hands. “I suck at meeting new people.”

“You’re gonna do great,” Taehyung soothes. “You won me over in no time, remember?”

Jeongguk pulls his head up to look at him, unamused. “If by ‘no time’ you mean five years, then sure.”

Taehyung rolls his eyes. “I meant this summer, dummy,” he says, tugging on Jeongguk’s arm until he gets the idea and comes to hover over Taehyung. “You’re sweet and charming and funny and passionate, you’ll fit right in.”

“Hyung,” Jeongguk protests, embarrassed.

“Not to mention a stone cold fox,” Taehyung continues anyway, running his hands up and down Jeongguk’s bare arms. Goosebumps erupt in his wake. “Those NYU kids won’t be able to keep their hands off of you.”

“I don’t want their hands,” Jeongguk pouts, leaning down to kiss Taehyung with an intensity that has his toes curling. “I just want you.”

“Guk,” Taehyung breathes out, voice shaking when Jeongguk’s lips move down to his neck, hot and insistent. “Don’t say that, you’re killing me.”

“Why not?” Jeongguk says petulantly, a stubborn glint in his eye. “I still get one more night of just being yours, don’t I? Let me enjoy it.”

Taehyung groans in response, resolve crumbling as he yanks him back in for a searing kiss, one leg hooking over the back of Jeongguk’s calf.

They fuck in the backseat of Taehyung’s mom’s car, urgent and cramped and so hot that Taehyung briefly forgets he has to give this up. When Taehyung comes, he pulls out and takes Jeongguk in his mouth, slipping two fingers into his ass to tease at his prostate while he sucks him off. There are still bruises on the inside of his thighs from all the times Taehyung has left hickeys there, and he knows it’s creepy and possessive but he likes the idea of Jeongguk going to New York with traces of Taehyung still on his body.

Around midnight, they pull up outside of Jeongguk’s house, the ache in Taehyung’s chest now throbbing, all consuming. He gets out of the car and pulls Jeongguk into a tight hug, both of them clinging, reluctant to let go. He feels wetness against his neck and knows that Jeongguk is crying, and it makes his heart shatter in his chest, makes the lump in his throat rise, threatening to choke him.

“Guk,” he says hoarsely, gently prying Jeongguk off of him. It’s the last thing he wants to do, but he feels his own meltdown coming, unstoppable, and he wants to be alone when it happens.

“I don’t want to say goodbye,” Jeongguk sniffs, eyes red and puffy. Taehyung wants to grab him and kiss all over his face, stroke his hair and wipe the tears away.

“I know,” Taehyung says, voice cracking as he struggles to keep his composure. “But we’ll talk soon, okay? And you’ll be home for Thanksgiving, I’ll see you then.”

Jeongguk nods, his lower lip quivering. “I’m really glad I got to spend this summer with you, Tae.”

God, Taehyung is going to fucking die.

“Me too.”

“Fuck,” Jeongguk says, rubbing roughly at his eyes. “Fuck, okay. I - bye, Tae.”

“Bye,” Taehyung echoes. He stands as if rooted to the spot while Jeongguk turns away, stuffing his hands in his pockets and trudging up the path to his front door. When he reaches it, he turns and gives Taehyung a small wave, shadowy figure illuminated by the outdoor light. Choking on a sob, Taehyung returns it, a brief, wild fantasy of chasing Jeongguk up the path flashing through his brain. Instead, he turns and drags himself back into the driver’s seat of the car.

He only makes it around the block before he has to pull over, vision blurring as the tears he’s been holding back finally begin to fall.

***

A week later, Taehyung finds himself seated at a sidewalk table outside a cafe in town, a bright yellow umbrella shielding him from the sun overhead. The atmosphere in general is distressingly cheery; a floral tablecloth covers the table, and there’s a vase full of colorful flowers placed in the center. It’s a beautiful day outside, which seems to have put everyone in the surrounding area in a good mood, Taehyung himself the glaring exception. This is his first attempt at being social since Jeongguk left, and the incessant chatter and positivity is already giving him a headache.

“How ya doin’?” Jimin says brightly, sliding into the seat across from Taehyung.

Obviously, Jimin is the one responsible for ultimately getting Taehyung out of the house, and that’s mostly because he’d threatened to come and physically drag him outside if necessary. He’s spent the past week alternating between working, moping, or sleeping, only speaking to his parents when absolutely necessary and rejecting Jimin’s and Hoseok’s attempts to hang out. Now that he’s here, though, Taehyung has to admit that it’s nice to see Jimin’s smiling face again.

“Been better,” he replies, taking a sip of his iced tea. “Sorry for being MIA.”

“It’s okay, I get it,” Jimin says sympathetically. A breeze lifts the hair from his forehead, making it look extra fluffy. “Have you guys been talking?”

“Some,” Taehyung nods.

Jeongguk has been texting him sporadically, little updates about his classes and floormates, or things that make him think of Taehyung. They’d even FaceTimed once, so that Jeongguk could show him around his dorm room, although that hadn’t taken long considering Jeongguk could practically fit the entire room into one frame. It’s better than nothing, but it’s still hard - hard to talk him, hard to not talk to him.

“How’s he doing?”

“Well, it seems like.”

“Good,” Jimin nods. He orders a soda when the server (wearing a floral apron, seriously, this place needs to chill) comes by, then redirects his attention to Taehyung. “And how are you, really?”

Taehyung shrugs. He’s fine, he’ll survive. The world’s not going to stop turning just because the guy he was seeing for two months moved away. But right now, things suck.

“Shitty,” he says honestly. “I mean, you know. I’ll be fine. I just miss him. And generally feel like a giant fucking failure at life.”

“You’re not a failure, Tae,” Jimin says patiently. “A lot of people struggle with finding a good job after graduating. Myself included.”

“I just can’t believe I met this amazing guy and had to let him go because I can’t get a fucking job,” Taehyung laments. “It’s like a double fuck you from the universe.”

Jimin reaches across the table and takes Taehyung’s hand, rubbing his thumb across the back of it.

“If it’s meant to be, it’ll work out,” he soothes. “I really believe that. You’re still applying for jobs, right?”

Taehyung nods glumly. “But at this rate, I’m gonna end up doing IT support in bumblefuck nowhere.”

Jimin snorts, kicking him under the table. “Come on, no you’re not. You’re gonna end up in New York and if you really play your cards right, you’ll end up with Jeongguk too.”

“I’m afraid I’m gonna fuck it up,” Taehyung admits. “I’m trying to give him space but I also want to talk to him constantly. And then when I do talk to him, I feel so depressed after, which makes me feel like I should just break it off completely.” He sighs. “But then I lose him.”

Their server reappears then, and Jimin orders a selection of the greasiest, highest-calorie items on the menu because he knows Taehyung really well and is an expert at cheering him up. Taehyung loves him a lot.

“I know you’re not asking for it, but I’m gonna give you my opinion anyway,” Jimin announces once the server has walked away. Taehyung snorts and nods for him to continue. “I think Jeongguk is a good one and I think it would be a mistake to cut ties, even if that’s what feels easier right now. You’ll get better at navigating this as time goes on, but I think you’ll regret it if he’s not in your life anymore.”

Taehyung considers this - how it would feel to not get to talk to Jeongguk anymore, to hear him laugh or know what’s going on his life. To lose the chance of ever being with him in the future. It’s a pretty easy decision when he thinks of it like that.

“Yeah,” Taehyung concedes. “Yeah, you’re right.”

Jimin smiles. “Of course I am.”

They proceed to stuff their faces and talk about other things for the remainder of the meal, and Taehyung leaves feeling marginally better than he has all week.

Jimin is right - over the course of the next few weeks, things do get better. It still sucks, and he still misses Jeongguk every day, but gradually Taehyung readjusts to not having him around all the time. They talk a few times a week, mostly over text but occasionally on the phone as well, and while Taehyung treasures those conversations, he thinks the space is good for both of them, lets them focus on what they need to focus on. Jeongguk is settling into his classes and the rhythm of city life, trying to make friends and explore New York and navigate how to ride the subway. And Taehyung, to his credit, is staying busy as well. His website launches in mid-September (to mass fanfare and critical acclaim among his parents, Jimin, and Hoseok), and with that done he throws himself into applying for jobs with renewed vigor. Having the completed website on his resume seems to be garnering more interest, and a local company had even reached out to him about scheduling an interview. Not exactly the New York dream, but it’s at least an option to make some money and get more experience while he keeps searching.

In his free time, he hangs out with Jimin and Hoseok, even tagging along to a few of the latter’s dance classes. He’s extremely grateful that the two of them still live locally, because left to his own devices he would probably spend all of his time playing video games and sad-stalking Jeongguk on social media. As it is, he probably spends more time than is strictly necessary following Jeongguk’s posts on Instagram and Snapchat, but at least when Jimin is there he can’t rewatch them 17 times and obsess over whether there are cute boys in the background.

By late September, the oppressive heat of the summer has faded into something gentler, cool enough that Taehyung now needs a light jacket when he goes out. Some of the leaves are just beginning to change, little flames of red, orange, and yellow popping up amidst the green. On a particularly beautiful morning, he decides to walk into town to pick up a smoothie, feeling proud of himself for getting to a place where he can once again embrace the nice weather rather than sulking about it.

He’s just leaving the juice bar, strawberry smoothie in hand, when his phone starts buzzing with a call from an unfamiliar number. Fumbling to swipe accept on the call with his free hand, he manages to answer right before it goes to voicemail.

“Hello?”

“Hey, Taehyung?” It’s a familiar voice, but it takes Taehyung a second to place it. “It’s Min Yoongi.”

Taehyung nearly drops his phone and his smoothie. He hasn’t heard from Yoongi since he told him he didn’t get the job.

“Hey, man, what’s up?”

Remain calm, he tells himself. Remain calm.

“Is now an okay time?” Yoongi asks. His voice still sounds rough with sleep, and Taehyung smiles to himself, imagining him slumped at his desk with a massive iced coffee. “I’m not interrupting you at work, right?”

Taehyung just barely restrains himself from snorting aloud. “Nope, all good. Still riding that funemployment train. Except it’s not fun and I want to get off. Immediately.”

He hears Yoongi chuckle quietly. “Well, that’s good news for me then.” Taehyung’s heart leaps into his throat. “We have another opening - basically an entry-level version of what you originally applied for. So it’s a programming role, but with some exposure to UX as well, which I know is important to you.”

Taehyung is so stunned that he doesn’t even realize that he’s stopped dead in the middle of the sidewalk until a woman skirts around him, giving him a weird look.

“Are you serious?” he asks, hoarse.

Yoongi laughs. “Completely serious. Are you interested?”

“Of course!” Taehyung cries, not even caring if he sounds desperate or unprofessional. “What do you need me to do? Should I re-apply, or come back in for another interview?”

“No need for that,” Yoongi says. “I mean, we’ll have you come in and meet the whole team, sign some stuff with HR, but - the job is yours if you want it, Taehyung.”

“Oh my god,” Taehyung breathes. He wants to scream and cry and jump up and down and do cartwheels through the streets. He can’t believe this is happening. He can’t believe he’s actually being offered a job, and in New York, and at Yoongi’s company no less. “I definitely want it, shit. Thank you so much, Yoongi.”

“No problem,” Yoongi says. “I told you we wanted you. I’m just glad we got you before someone else did.”

Taehyung feels like he’s floating.

“Me too,” he replies, still in awe.

“Listen, I gotta run to a meeting, but we’ll send you an email with details, okay? And get something set up for you to come in and meet the team.”

“Okay,” Taehyung says weakly.

“Cool. See you soon, Tae.”

The call ends and Taehyung does actually jump up and down then, right there in the middle of the street. Because he got a job. He finally got a fucking job and he’s moving to New York, just like he’s always wanted. And maybe, if he’s really lucky, this means he’ll get a second chance with Jeongguk as well.

The email from Yoongi’s company comes through later that afternoon, and after confirming he can borrow one of his parent’s cars, Taehyung makes arrangements to visit the office at the end of the week. He’ll be staying with Seokjin again, and even learns that his roommate will be moving out at the end of the month, which means Seokjin will have an empty room in his apartment right around the time that Taehyung is moving into the city. It seems too good to be true, but Seokjin just tells him to think about it and that they can talk logistics when they see each other in person.

The one person Taehyung doesn’t tell about the job is Jeongguk. He thinks about it, physically itches to call him the second he gets the news, but he wants to be 100% sure before he tells him. Yoongi had said the job was his, but he hasn’t met the team yet or gotten a formal written offer. What if something goes wrong? He can’t bear the thought of having to have that conversation with Jeongguk again. But if all goes well, Jeongguk will come over to Seokjin’s for dinner the night Taehyung is there, and Taehyung can surprise him then.

***

The drive to New York is lonelier and quieter without Jeongguk in the car. Once again, Taehyung is buzzing with nerves, but this time it’s more nervous excitement - about meeting his new colleagues, about seeing Jeongguk for the first time in over a month. He’s standing on the precipice of significant change, almost all of it positive, and it’s simultaneously intimidating and exhilarating.

It’s with a strange sense of deja vu that Taehyung parks his car in the same parking garage as last time and makes his way to Yoongi’s office. As usual, the city is alive with activity, and even though Taehyung wishes he had Jeongguk by his side again, there’s a thrill that comes with navigating this on his own. This was his dream long before Jeongguk came into the picture, and regardless of what happens between the two of them, he knows there’s a lot of good lying ahead of him.

The meetings go well. Yoongi greets him in the lobby and escorts him to meet the programming and UX teams, who, with the exception of a few weirdos, seem to be a smart and welcoming bunch. On top of that, the office culture is pleasantly laidback, with lots of shared spaces and very few indicators of rank or superiority. Nearly everyone is wearing jeans or something equally casual (he’s pretty sure he passes one guy dressed in sweatpants), and Taehyung already knows he’ll feel more at ease here than in some stuffy corporate office.

His second stop is a meeting with HR, where they give him a formal offer letter (Taehyung nearly dies on the spot and just barely suppresses the urge to clutch it to his chest) and go over things like salary, vacation days, and benefits. It’s all a little foreign to him given that this is his first “grown-up” job, but the woman - Erica - is friendly and patient and lets him know to contact her with any concerns. He just has to sign the offer and scan it over to her within the next few days, and he’s all set. The job is officially his.

Yoongi takes him out for coffee afterwards, and Taehyung is so relieved that he practically slumps into his seat when they sit down at a small table near the window. The offer letter is tucked safely into his bag, just waiting to be signed, emblazoned with a start date of three weeks from now (allowing a little time for him to get moved into the city) and an annual salary that contains four whole zeroes.

Life is feeling pretty good right now.

“Thank you so much, hyung,” Taehyung says for probably the fiftieth time. “I really can’t tell you how grateful I am. I’m so excited.”

“You don’t have to thank me,” Yoongi says, waving him off as he takes a long sip of his iced coffee. “We’re always looking for good people. Plus, it’ll be nice to have another familiar face around.”

“Want to hire Jimin too?” Taehyung jokes. “He’s still looking for a job, and he’s pretty much obligated to come to New York now that I’m here.”

A faint blush rises on Yoongi’s cheeks (not hard to make out given how absurdly pale he is), and Taehyung feels immensely smug. He’d always been entertained by Yoongi and Jimin’s relationship - Yoongi gruff but fond, Jimin exuberant but shy. Back in high school, they’d been horribly awkward any time they weren’t making out, but if Taehyung has learned anything in the past few months, it’s that sometimes second chances are absolutely worth it.

“You’re still friends with Jimin?” Yoongi asks, clearly aiming for casual and failing spectacularly.

“Best friends,” Taehyung confirms, grinning brightly. “He says hi.” (He hadn’t said hi, had actually threatened Taehyung against doing this very thing, but it’s for their own good.) “Should I tell him you say hi back?”

Taehyung blinks innocently while Yoongi blushes further.

“Oh - uh, yeah, sure.”

“Great,” Taehyung beams. “When he comes to visit me we should all hang out.”

Yoongi nods, looking somewhat dumbfounded but also pleased.

Taehyung lets him off the hook after that - the guy did just get him a job, after all - and they pass the rest of the time chatting about the job and Taehyung’s move. By the time they get up to leave, Taehyung has also managed to thank him at least four more times.

“See you in a few weeks, hyung,” Taehyung says, standing on the sidewalk outside the coffee shop. The road beside them is busy, traffic dotted by yellow cabs, pedestrians darting across the street even when they don’t have the right of way. There are horns blaring, sirens in the distance, people speaking in different languages as they pass - it’s chaotic, but Taehyung loves it.

“Looking forward to it,” Yoongi nods. “See you.”

He turns in the direction of his office and Taehyung heads down towards Seokjin’s apartment, content to occupy himself with taking pictures of everything he sees until Seokjin gets home from work. Now that the “interview” is over, his attention shifts to the prospect of seeing Jeongguk, and a new kind of nervousness floods his system - something that feels suspiciously like butterflies. It’s almost like his body can sense he’s in the same city as Jeongguk again and is vibrating at the mere thought of such proximity.

And maybe Jeongguk can sense it too, because just as Taehyung is in the middle of trying to photograph a bunch of pigeons fighting over an abandoned bread crust, his phone starts vibrating and the caller ID photo for Jeongguk appears on his screen. It’s a picture of him with cheeks stuffed round like a chipmunk’s, from when they had competed to see who could fit more chocolate balls in their mouth at once (Jeongguk had won, but Taehyung had gotten this picture, so who’s the winner really?). Jeongguk had tried to delete the picture off of Taehyung’s phone multiple times, but Taehyung had always managed to fend him off, usually by employing unfair tactics such as sucking on Jeongguk’s earlobe.

His heart aches at the memory.

And then he remembers that Jeongguk is calling him, which means he’s going to have to somehow disguise the fact that he’s in New York and also restrain himself from blurting out that he’s trying to surprise Jeongguk in a few hours’ time.

“Guk?” he answers, flinging himself into a coffee shop in hopes that it will be a little quieter.

“Hey,” Jeongguk greets, and Taehyung would melt at the familiar comfort of his voice if it weren’t for the fact that he sounds audibly upset. “Sorry, is now an okay time to talk?”

“Yeah, of course,” Taehyung says, dropping down at a table by the window and avoiding the barista’s glare when he doesn’t order anything. “Is everything okay?”

“Yeah, I just - ” he pauses, sighs, and Taehyung can imagine the exact face he makes when he’s trying to figure out how to articulate something. “I finally got up the nerve to make a point in one of my classes today and this dick raised his hand right after me and basically made fun of what I said.”

“What the fuck?” Taehyung says, protective anger flaring in his stomach. He knows how hard it’s been for Jeongguk to put himself out there in his classes, and he can’t believe some jackass would shoot him down on his first try. “Who the fuck does that guy even think he is? Did your professor say anything?”

“He likes to let us fend for ourselves,” Jeongguk replies miserably. “It’s not that big of a deal, I just feel like an idiot. These kids all know what they’re doing and then here I am, struggling to play catch up and making an ass of myself in my classes.”

“It sounds like that other guy is the ass,” Taehuyng says fiercely. “Listen, Guk, they wouldn’t have let you in if they didn’t think you deserved to be there. Just because these privileged fuckers have an extra two years of experience on you doesn’t mean they’re any more talented than you are. And just because some dumb fuck in your class decided to make himself feel better by shitting on your point doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good point.”

Jeongguk huffs out a soft laugh, and Taehyung grins triumphantly. “Thanks, Tae.”

“What’s this dickhead’s name, anyway?” Taehyung asks. Outside, a woman passes walking an extremely fluffy Pomeranian. “I bet it’s something so fucking pretentious, like Brody or some shit - ”

“Stryker,” Jeongguk replies. “His name is Stryker.”

Taehyung snorts aloud, drawing a few glares from the people sitting around him. “You’re joking.”

Jeongguk laughs, and it comes out stronger this time. “I’m not.”

“Jesus Christ, of course his fucking name is Stryker,” Taehyung says. “To be fair, with a name like that, he never even stood a chance at not being a douchebag. Don’t sweat it, Guk-ah.”

“I’ll try,” Jeongguk concedes. “I just - I wish you were here. You always know how to cheer me up.” A pause, during which time Taehyung’s heart clenches and somersaults in his chest. “I miss you, Tae.”

Taehyung nearly breaks down and tells him right then, wants to ask Jeongguk where he is so he can run straight there and give him a giant hug. Instead, he clamps his mouth shut, determined not to spoil the surprise after managing to keep the secret all week. It will make it all the more special when they do finally see each other tonight.

“I know,” Taehyung sighs, trying to sound convincingly disappointed. “I miss you too. You’re having dinner with Jin hyung tonight though, right?”

“Yeah, he invited me over, which was really nice,” Jeongguk confirms. “Could use a friendly face right about now.”

“Good,” Taehyung says, a fresh wave of excitement bubbling in his stomach. “I’m sure that will make you feel better.” He glances over at the barista, who is still glaring at him but seems to have been joined by someone Taehyung presumes is the manager. “Sorry, Guk, I gotta go, but I’ll s- I mean, I’ll talk to you soon, okay?”

“Okay,” Jeongguk replies, sounding kind of dejected, and Taehyung feels guilty even though he knows he’ll be seeing him in a few hours. “Thanks for talking to me.”

“Any time,” Taehyung says sincerely, standing up and edging towards the door. “Seriously, fuck that Stryker kid.”

Jeongguk lets out a weak laugh. “Bye, hyung.”

“See ya.”

Taehyung manages to bolt out the door just as the manager starts approaching him, pleased when he hangs a left and finds himself not far behind the woman with the Pomeranian. He asks for permission to pet the dog and then distracts himself for a solid ten minutes doing just that, combing his fingers through the puffy fur and scratching gently behind its ears. When the owner politely explains that they have to get going, he watches sadly as they walk away, then makes a mental note to ask Seokjin if pets are allowed in his building.

After that, it’s not long until Seokjin gets home from work, and Taehyung goes to meet him at his apartment, picking up a bottle of wine on the way. Seokjin forces him into an apron and they catch up while preparing dinner together, talking about Taehyung’s meetings at the company and the possibility of them moving in together. It’s looking like the timing will work out almost perfectly, so as long as the landlord approves Taehyung’s application, they’ll be roommates in a few weeks’ time. Taehyung can’t wait - he loves Seokjin, and getting settled in a new city will be much easier with a friend by his side.

All of this serves as such a good distraction that when the buzzer goes off (so loudly that Taehyung jumps about three feet in the air), he forgets for a second who it is. But then the pieces settle back into place and his heart starts thundering in his chest, frantic with the prospect of seeing Jeongguk, being close to him again. Even though a month apart has given Taehyung time to adjust to Jeongguk’s absence, it’s done nothing to quell the strength of his feelings. He can only hope that it’s the same for Jeongguk.

Wiping his palms on his pants, Taehyung follows Seokjin into the living area, standing behind the door so that he’s not immediately visible when it opens. There’s a soft knock, and Seokjin opens it, greeting Jeongguk warmly. It’s at this moment that Taehyung realizes they’re both still wearing their aprons (Taehyung’s a navy blue one with a chicken plastered on the front) and that he doesn’t have time to discard his before Jeongguk sees him. Not exactly the suave, sexy impression he was hoping to make on Jeongguk after not seeing him for so long.

“Hi, hyung,” Taehyung hears, the voice warm and familiar, making Taehyung’s heart rate spike once again. His train of thought has been reduced to a steady repetition of Jeongguk Jeongguk Jeongguk, and because he can’t control himself anymore, he steps up behind Seokjin, directly into Jeongguk’s line of vision.

The look on Jeongguk’s face when he sees Taehyung almost makes the past month worth it. His eyes go round where they meet Taehyung’s over Seokjin’s shoulder, making them even more impossibly doe-like. His eyebrows lift, his lips part in surprise. The expression on his face shifts rapidly from recognition to shock to elated disbelief. And when it slips into the brightest smile Taehyung has ever seen, the entire contents of Taehyung’s body promptly dissolve.

“Tae?”

God, was he always this handsome? He looks so fucking handsome. A little paler than over the summer, hair a little longer, cheeks a bit fuller. But still very much the same Jeongguk, somehow toeing the line between hot and adorable, snuggled into a purple NYU hoodie with one strap of a backpack hanging off his shoulder.

“Surprise,” Taehyung says, lifting one shoulder weakly.

The apartment’s not very big, so all it takes is one large step for Jeongguk to close the distance between them and envelop Taehyung in a tight hug. He smells the same, and he feels the same, arms strong and comforting, caught somewhere between holding Taehyung and crushing him (not that Taehyung minds). Taehyung melts into it, circling Jeongguk’s waist and pulling him in, pressing his nose into the soft material of his sweatshirt.

Just a normal, completely platonic gesture between friends.

Taehyung totally has this under control.

“What are you doing here?” Jeongguk asks, releasing him and taking a step back. Taehyung instantly misses his warmth. Vaguely, he’s aware of Seokjin shifting around behind him, slipping into the kitchen to give them some semblance of privacy.

“Yoongi called me,” Taehyung explains. “I got a job with his company.”

A flicker of hope passes across Jeongguk’s face, cautious but still undeniably there. It does something funny to Taehyung’s heart.

“Wait,” Jeongguk says slowly. “So - ”

“I’m moving to New York in a few weeks,” Taehyung nods, a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. “I’m moving in with Jin hyung, hopefully.”

“Oh my god,” Jeongguk says, looking stunned. “Tae, that’s amazing, congratulations!” He reaches out halfway, then stops himself with an awkward, jerky motion. “Can I - I’m gonna hug you again.”

“Please,” Taehyung nods, practically flinging himself into Jeongguk’s arms. It’s like a drug - the more he gets of Jeongguk, the more he wants. And now that Jeongguk is within reach again, Taehyung is even greedier.

“I can’t believe this,” Jeongguk says when they break apart. “I mean, I can, you deserve it, but - shit. You’re gonna be here.”

“I know,” Taehyung grins. “Now I can beat up that Stryker kid for you.”

Jeongguk quirks a skeptical eyebrow.

“I’ll beat him up with my words,” Taehyung clarifies, and Jeongguk huffs out a laugh.

“Thanks, hyung.” His eyes sweep over Taehyung, and for a second Taehyung thinks Jeongguk is blatantly checking him out. But then - “Nice apron, by the way.”

Taehyung flushes, glancing down at himself and hurriedly tugging the apron off. Jeongguk watches in amusement.

“Don’t, it’s cute,” he teases. Taehyung rolls his eyes.

“I was helping Jin cook,” he explains, tossing the apron aside. He actually is wearing a relatively nice outfit underneath the apron, a baby blue button down tucked into black pants. The office was casual, but he’d still wanted to make a good impression.

Taehyung is pretty sure he actually does catch Jeongguk’s gaze lingering appreciatively this time, but then Seokjin reappears, still wearing his own (pink, obviously) apron.

“Dinner’s ready,” he announces, glancing curiously between the two of them. His lips purse in a slight smirk, but mercifully he doesn’t say anything embarrassing.

Over dinner, Taehyung catches Jeongguk up on what had happened with Yoongi and the job, how he had met with the team today and was making plans to move in with Seokjin. Jeongguk, in turn, fills Seokjin in on how his transition into NYU is going; Taehyung has heard some of these updates but not all. It makes him a little sad when Jeongguk brings up things that he hasn’t told Taehyung about - he wants to hear everything there is to know when it comes to Jeongguk - but he supposes that’s the tradeoff of taking some space. Hopefully, that will change once he moves to New York.

Jeongguk helps them clean up and hangs out for a little while longer, but eventually Seokjin points out that it’s a work night and Jeongguk reluctantly concedes that he has some homework to get to. With a quick wink at Taehyung, Seokjin says goodbye to Jeongguk and conveniently disappears into his bedroom, leaving the two of them alone. Taehyung’s mind drifts to the last time they were here together, how he and Jeongguk had cuddled and kissed until they fell asleep, and he’s seized by the powerful urge to latch onto Jeongguk and refuse to let go.

“Tae,” Jeongguk says quietly. He’s standing in front of Seokjin’s door, backpack once again slung over his shoulder. “Why didn’t you tell me about the job? Or that you were coming to New York?”

He looks vaguely hurt, and Taehyung feels suddenly guilty.

“I wanted to,” Taehyung assures him, earnest. “You were the first person I wanted to tell.” Jeongguk’s eyebrows lift slightly at that. “But I wasn’t positive I’d get it, and I just - I couldn’t get my hopes up until I knew for sure. With the job, maybe, but with you - it would have hurt too much if I lost out for a second time on being here with you.”

Jeongguk blinks at him. “Oh.” A hint of the bunny smile peeks through, and Taehyung’s stomach swoops. “Okay.”

“Yeah.”

Jeongguk swallows, hiking his backpack higher on his shoulder. “So you still - ”

Taehyung nods, feeling his face warm. “’Course.”

“Okay,” Jeongguk grins. “Me too.”

Relief floods Taehyung’s body, and he feels his heart lift in his chest, elated. A part of him wants to grab Jeongguk’s face and kiss him, perhaps declare his undying love, but for now, this feels like enough. He needs to focus on actually getting to New York first - then he can figure out exactly what’s going on with him and Jeongguk.

“So I’ll see you in a few weeks, then,” Taehyung says, and Jeongguk nods vigorously.

“Can’t wait.”

They hug again, and as they break apart, Taehyung is feeling dizzy-happy enough to peck Jeongguk lightly on the cheek. It makes Jeongguk blush fiercely, and really, Taehyung has missed this so much, how easy it is to get a reaction out of him. His Jeongguk, who still gets flustered over a kiss on the cheek from Taehyung even though he could probably have his pick of any guy (or girl, for that matter) in Manhattan.

Then he’s out the door, hood tugged up over his head, and the three week countdown begins.

***

Three weeks later, Taehyung finds himself experiencing a bit of deja vu. Namely, he’s staring appreciatively at a very sweaty, very toned Jeon Jeongguk, practically gaping as the muscles in his arms flex under the weight of a cardboard box. He’d pulled off his NYU sweatshirt after about ten minutes of traipsing up and down the stairs in Seokjin’s (and now Taehyung’s) apartment building, leaving him in a thin white t-shirt that clings in all the right places and makes Taehyung seriously question his sanity.

“You’re staring again,” Seokjin says loudly, yelping when Taehyung elbows him in the ribs.

Jeongguk sets the box down and glances over at them expectantly. “What?”

“Nothing,” Taehyung says innocently. He’s sweating himself, hair tied back with a red bandana to keep it from sticking to his forehead. The small fan that Seokjin had dug out from his closet is doing little to keep the air in the apartment circulating.

It’s an unusually warm Saturday in late October, the sky blue, the sidewalks and parks in the city flooded with people trying to take advantage of the last dregs of nice weather. It also happens to be the day that Taehyung is officially moving to New York, Seokjin’s roommate having vacated the apartment a week prior. With the help of his parents, he’d loaded up the car with his belongings last night and driven up with his dad early this morning. Once the car was unloaded, his dad had headed back and Taehyung had gotten to work lugging all of his shit upstairs.

Enter sexy, sweaty Jeon Jeongguk, New York edition.

It had been Jeongguk’s idea to help him move in, and Taehyung had pretended to protest for all of about 30 seconds before he caved and agreed. Because really, who is he to look a gift horse in the mouth? If Jeongguk really wanted to help, Taehyung wasn’t going to turn him down. And if Jeongguk wanted to look like a whole damn meal while doing so, well - Taehyung’s going to enjoy the show, okay? Anyone with eyes and a dick as neglected as his would do the same.

On a less horny note, he and Jeongguk had also been talking more over the past few weeks. Still not as much as they had over the summer, but enough for Taehyung to notice a change. It feels like they’re circling something, each interaction bringing them closer to the center - the texts getting a bit more daring, the emotion a little harder to conceal. Neither of them has said it outright, but now that he’s here, now that they’re in the same damn place, Taehyung has plans - hopes - to change that as soon as possible.

He just really fucking prays that Jeongguk is on the same page.

“I think that was the last box,” Jeongguk informs them, sounding almost disappointed. The small apartment is filled with Taehyung’s things by now, the path from the living area to his new bedroom a maze of cardboard boxes and suitcases. There are clothes strewn across the couch, a half-assembled bedside table from IKEA in the kitchen, and a pile of bedding heaped on Taehyung’s mattress with Tata perched proudly at the top.

In short, it looks like a bomb went off, and knowing Taehyung, it’ll be a while before he manages to get everything settled. Then again, knowing Seokjin, Taehyung’s window to get his shit out of the common area is going to be pretty brief.

“Thanks, Jeonggukkie,” Taehyung says, decidedly not staring at the way Jeongguk’s shirt is sticking to his abs. He surveys the mess around them and sighs. “Now I just have to unpack it all.”

“Do you want help?” Jeongguk offers, looking hopeful.

Taehyung wants to kiss him.

“That’s okay,” Taehyung replies, shaking his head. As much as he wants Jeongguk around, he feels guilty for taking up so much of his Saturday, especially when he inevitably has schoolwork to do. “I need to get myself organized first.”

“I don’t mind,” Jeongguk says, pouting slightly.

“Guk - ”

“At least let me finish setting up the IKEA table,” Jeongguk insists. “I’m good at that stuff.”

“You’re good at everything,” Taehyung counters.

Hyung.

Does he know Taehyung is weak for hearing Jeongguk call him hyung? He must know.

“Okay, fine,” Taehyung relents. (What a martyr he is.) “But you better make it quick so that you can get home and shower.”

Jeongguk frowns in confusion. “Why?”

“Because I’m taking you out for dinner tonight,” Taehyung announces, heart stuttering when Jeongguk’s face lights up. “My treat, as a thank you for helping me move in.”

“Oh,” Jeongguk says, cheeks pink. “‘Kay.”

“I helped too,” Seokjin grumbles under his breath as Jeongguk hurries over to the bedside table. His face is still flushed from the exertion of hauling Taehyung’s suitcases upstairs. “Where’s my free dinner?”

Taehyung ignores him and directs his attention to sorting through his clothes. He’s got a date tonight, after all.

***

That evening, Taehyung pulls together the best outfit he can from the clothes he’s managed to unpack and heads downstairs to meet Jeongguk. He’s about 50% settled at best, but he’s got a bed with sheets on it, a dresser, and a fully assembled bedside table, so that’ll have to do for now. Plus, he’s managed to cram most of his stuff into his own bedroom, so the likelihood of Seokjin yelling at him for leaving a mess is significantly diminished. Whether or not there’s a viable path from his doorway to his bed is a secondary concern.

When Jeongguk texts him that he’s outside, Taehyung practically flies out the door, shouting a goodbye in Seokjin’s general direction without even bothering to wait for a response. He thinks he’s probably being a bad roommate, but there will be plenty of opportunities for him and Seokjin to lounge around and bond in the future. Right now, Taehyung has to go get his man.

Jeongguk is standing on the sidewalk directly outside of Taehyung’s building, hands stuffed into the pockets of his light-wash jeans. It’s cooled down slightly, enough for him to be dressed in a light sweater, and his hair is styled in what Taehyung now recognizes as his date hair. His stomach flutters at the realization. That has to be a good sign, right?

In short, Jeongguk looks good, but even more so, he looks familiar, looks like home. All of the little things Taehyung had become so fond of over the summer are still there, jumping out at him now that Jeongguk is up close and in person - the cute mole under his lower lip, the scar on his left cheekbone, the way his smile is just a little uneven. Here in a sea of strangers, Jeongguk is everything that Taehyung has missed, and he gravitates towards him as if pulled by an invisible string.

“Hi,” Taehyung says brightly, beaming at him.

He can’t believe he’s really here. Here in New York, here with Jeongguk. Here in New York with Jeongguk.

“Hi,” Jeongguk replies, looking equally giddy.

“Have you decided what you want for dinner?”

“There’s a really good pizza place nearby, I was thinking we could try that.”

“Wow, no McDonald’s?” Taehyung teases, all faux shock. “One month in the big city and my baby boy is all grown up.”

Jeongguk flushes, kicking his shin lightly. “Shut up, I’m not that bad.”

This proclamation is somewhat undermined when they reach the block that the pizzeria is on and find that it’s across the street from - you guessed it - a McDonald’s.

Taehyung turns to Jeongguk, smug. “We’re going there for dessert, aren’t we?”

Jeongguk pouts. “No,” he protests, completely unconvincing.

Taehyung snorts, impossibly fond. “Glad to see you haven’t changed too much,” he says, taking Jeongguk’s hand and tugging. “Come on, pizza and a milkshake sounds perfect.”

Once their bellies are full and they have milkshakes in hand, they decide to go for a walk, sauntering along until they reach Washington Square Park. It’s dark outside but the city seems to only just be waking up, from the lit-up windows dotting every building they pass to the people spilling in and outs of bars, restaurants, and cabs. The park is bustling too, the illuminated arch looming over everything from skateboards to musicians to couples cuddled up on benches. Taehyung has only been here for a few hours, but it’s already everything he hoped it would be, vibrant and exciting and alive.

Somewhere along the way, his fingers have become loosely entangled with Jeongguk’s, and now Taehyung can’t keep the huge, dumb smile off of his face. Dinner had been easy and wonderful, the two of them falling back into their usual patterns as if no time had passed at all. Still, they haven’t explicitly talked about what any of this actually means, and nerves churn in Taehyung’s stomach as he summons the courage to bring it up.

“This park is a great place for a date,” he observes, glancing coyly at Jeongguk out of the corner of his eye.

Jeongguk’s fingers tighten around his. “So this is a date, then?” he asks, lips quirking slightly, just a little smug.

“Actually,” Taehyung says, turning so that they’re standing face to face. They’re beside the fountain now, water spouting high from its center, the occasional stray droplet spraying them. “I was hoping you would be my boyfriend.”

Jeongguk’s answering smile is so genuine and so sweet that Taehyung nearly screams, or implodes, or both.

“I’d really like that, hyung,” he says shyly. Blissful, giddy warmth erupts out from Taehyung’s heart, spreading all the way to the tips of his fingers and toes.

Taehyung tugs gently on Jeongguk’s fingers and he comes easily, closing the distance between them until their lips meet. It’s a short kiss, soft and sugar sweet from the milkshakes they’d just been drinking. Still, it’s Taehyung’s favorite yet, because it’s the first time he’s kissed Jeongguk without any nagging doubt or dread for what the future might bring. Now, he gets to kiss him with nothing but hope in his heart.

“Wanna come back to mine?” Jeongguk asks around a smile, resting his forehead against Taehyung’s when they break apart.

Taehyung swallows, finding Jeongguk’s waist, slipping his fingers through the belt loops of his jeans. “Yes please.”

And so, Taehyung spends his first night in New York not in his own bed, but in Jeongguk’s. It’s a twin, the only thing that will fit in Jeongguk’s tiny closet of a bedroom, but Taehyung doesn’t care, not when he has Jeongguk all to himself for the first time in two months. Especially not when Jeongguk is kissing his way down Taehyung’s chest, spreading his legs, murmuring that there hasn’t been anyone else, that this is all he’s been able to think about since he left. Taehyung doesn’t even care when he has to fall asleep with his bare ass practically hanging off the bed, because on his other side he’s pressed up against a sleepy, satisfied, and very naked Jeongguk.

Taehyung has gotten all the space he needs over the past few months, thank you very much. When it comes to Jeon Jeongguk, no space at all is just fine with him.