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«Once upon a time, there was a talented actor…»

[1]

February, 7th

The hands of the clock on the wall kept moving too slowly.

Taehyung just wanted to be back on set already.

He sighed for the seventh time since he entered that room. Why time couldn’t move faster for once in his life?

The office lights were monotone and the room was too bright, too many white walls and polished furniture, too many sharp edges, and minimalistic paintings that after an hour made him nauseous, not to mention the intense flower –lavender?- candles that could be smelled from the lobby before he got in; the first time he walked into the agency he dreamt with the scent for a week. Now he brought his own Kleenex to every meeting and maybe hinted his dislike by giving his agent different ones every year for Christmas… maybe the perfume was already impregnated on the walls or something.

He hated work meetings. Not all of them, just the following hour after his agent was done with explaining his new projects. The hour that was about contracts conditions and clauses, events he didn’t want to really attend to, sponsors and products to promote.

I don’t even like red beans.” He protested.

You’re the tourism ambassador. The nation’s sweetheart.” His agent reminded him.

Titles, titles. Ugh.

“…and you should add a variety show to your schedule in the meantime. It can be recorded after your finish filming the drama and it would end just in time to begin with the movie shooting .” His agent, Hyejeong, continued; although he wasn’t paying that much attention until that moment.

“It sounds like you have already scheduled it.” Taehyung crossed his arms over his chest and sighed... again.

Sigh counter: 8

It was another upcoming packed year.

Not that was completely bad, in fact, he was grateful he was highly solicited and requested to be on screen, whether dramas or movies but he wasn’t particularly fond of variety shows since he had had his first big role. Portraying a character was one thing, it was getting under the fictional skin of someone else… being in front of the cameras trying to play himself –his self that people liked- all the time was tiring, always looking like he was ready to film a commercial with a perfect smile on his face during the time he was surrounded by dozens of people recording every action from every angle while he tried to be «authentic».

Ha. Sure.

Taehyung was charismatic in every sense of the word and he loved to be around people, surely, the public had fallen in love with him because of his charming personality that wasn’t faked at all but he wasn’t anyone’s clown to fool around. He didn’t want to be just a pretty face and a flower boy with a bubbly plastic personality, he wanted to be taken seriously for his acting skills from now on. Thus, he had decided to work in more serious projects, taking some risks but finally focusing his career in the kind of productions he wished to be remembered for.

It hadn’t been easy since his agency tried to keep and dragged him into the mellow business of cheesy soap operas perpetuating his sweet youthful image. However, Taehyung was ready for the next step and he had made it clear he wasn’t going to take another part as second lead –not even when he was offered main lead- or secondary character in a romantic comedy, he wanted more.

When they sat together one afternoon a few weeks ago, Hyejeong had read the titles and summaries aloud in order to pick his next project strategically. It had to be something that could get him out of the sugar, spice and everything nice hole he was immersed in. It had to be a daring part and require a lot of work and characterization. After a few hours they settled it, a production that wasn’t low-cost but it definitely touched the limits of the independent cinematography.

The basic plot was typical of the detective genre, something that had been seen thousands of times but the producers and the writers had entangled the plot and the characters in such way, after reading the first couple pages, Taehyung was ecstatic: he wanted more, he needed more. He had to be part of it even if the detective/prosecutor story had existed way before he was even born, it wasn’t a remake, it was fresh and exciting and that was exactly what he was looking for. A way to get out of his comfort zone.

Of course, he would have to fight to get that part, not only with his company but also hundreds of good actors who were far more experienced than him in that kind of role. Big names resonated on the walls of his agent’s little office when she numbered the reasons why their chances were low. Fortunately, Taehyung was much of a stubborn and now that the idea had been planted inside his mind, he was incapable of shake it off.

When Taehyung asked why he had been considered for the role, his agent answered saying the production team had seen him on the series of short films he had been part of before becoming more popular. Few people knew about them but it was a work that made him proud, working as a teenager who had a difficult life and ended up in the streets after committing a crime… it had been sensitive but he had done a good job with that.

The auditions were rough and in the end, an older actor surpassed him or that's what they had told them. Except, hours after when he was mourning his loss and contemplating the idea of joining a school drama again, Hyejeong called him telling that person on the matter had decided to turn down the project because he got a better offer to shoot a film in April. The production beginning in just a couple weeks would be conflictive and, in consequence, he forewent his participation in the drama. Taehyung was the first person in the waiting list and the rest, as they say, was history.

Well, not entirely. The shooting would begin soon but that didn’t mean he wouldn’t have to work until then. Aside from the physical preparation, he had modeling contracts, commercials and… apparently, a surprise from his lovely agent. He thought he would finally have some time to rest after finishing with the upcoming drama that he would start filming in early March but the woman sitting on the desk across him had other plans.

When she instructed him to visit her office that day meant she had something for him it couldn’t be discussed on the phone.

“You received a very interesting offer and I said you were going to consider it. That’s it, as soon as you say no; I’ll call them and turn it away.”

“Then, do that.” Taehyung suggested carelessly while spinning on the chair he was sitting.

“Maybe you should listen to the offer first…”

“Ah, is it another variety show in which I participate as a guest and a lot of rookie idols come to entertain people? There’s no way that’s you treat a human being. It’s recorded bullying, terribly edited by the way.”

“In this business, we all do that, Taehyung.”

“I hate it. I remember it.” The younger bit his fingernails already threatening with a tantrum. “Is this another of those survival shows and they’ll send me back to a jungle in the middle of nowhere for three days to get eaten by mosquitoes and break my ankle again?”

“I admit that wasn’t the best idea in the world, but no, it’s not. Relax… this is more… domestic.” There was a smile on her face that made the actor shiver.

Taehyung was already scared.

“Then what?”

We Got Married.” Hyejeong pushed a piece of paper that looked much like the contracts he paid her to read for him.

We Got Married? For real?” He raised an eyebrow. “I told you I’m never going to participate in that show. It’s stupid and vicious; they play with people’s emotions, not to mention I’m not the most… «heterosexual» person to participate. I don’t want to be paired with some poor girl out there it would be bad for both of us…”

“You won’t.” She adjusted one of the locks of her perfect short hair behind her ear. Something she only did when she was confident about something.

This time, Taehyung raised an eyebrow because he was curious.

“Then as an MC? Guest panelist? I already did that. Three episodes, a whole nightmare.”

“No, you’d be on the show only this time…” Hyejeong made a dramatic pause in the middle of the sentence. “They are looking for celebrities that are interested in participating in a same-gender marriage to celebrate Korea’s acceptance of the law as well.”

The actor almost fell from the chair.

“Are they? The most heteronormative show on television is looking for gay couples?”

His agent nodded. “They’d pair up you with some other male celebrity, it’s on the contract. I’ve already read it, twice." She tapped on the pile of papers in front of him. "Think about it, Taehyung. It would be the first edition of a whole new We Got Married, and you’d be the pioneer. The first actor in the country to participate as openly LGTBQ+ in a TV show that used to be just for straight couples. A true revolutionary. It’s going to be huge, let me tell you.”

“Or it could be a huge mistake and mess up with my reputation. The one we’ve been trying to keep clean?”

“It’s not like people don’t know about your sexual orientation.”

“I came out only after the law was approved and there was still damage control to do. Things are still horrible out there… a big portion of the society still judges me. Not to mention this might be still heavily stereotyped being written to please a fetishist audience.”

“Then, help them to get used to. Look, Taehyung, if people –especially that part of the society that still rejects you- start to see it as a normal… a normal normal thing, not the stereotype version of it...”

Taehyung groaned. “Why wouldn’t it be normal? Why it has to be odd for them something that’s already normal for me, for the rest of the rational people?”

“Honey, I know. I’ve been here with you since the beginning, remember? Think about it, if you do this, more viewers will grow up with a referent in the media. Someone famous who’s not afraid, someone they can call their role model.”

“I’m not a role model.”

“You could be one. You could be their inspiration, Tae. Do you know why people liked your last character so much? Because they could feel the way you felt.”

The role of the baseball player had been meaningful for him. It was about a boy who lost his family during a car accident but got to recover in time to play the last game of the season winning the league thanks to the support of his teammates. It was based on a true story and Taehyung got to meet the original protagonist of the story. He wanted to portrait it in the right way for that man and that’s how his performance became more realistic because he had an extra purpose.

It was also thanks to that part that the press started speculating about his sexuality since he went out often with one member of the cast. They were just friends but that didn’t stop the paparazzi and the media from start questioning things. He ended up denying the rumors of a relationship but openly –and proudly- coming out to the world as result to shut down the gossip.

“You’re a good actor but you’re a better person. Even in this trashy TV show, if you can show just one percent of yourself to the cameras on this, I know, with a hand on my heart, people would relate to you.”

The boy bit his bottom lip half convinced. It was true it was going to be a big thing and there were a lot of people who look up to him.

“And…” Taehyung wetted his lips. “Who would be my husband?”

There was a hint of interest in his voice.

“The showrunner emailed me the information. As soon as we confirm your participation he’s going to send me some application form in which you’ll specify what are you looking for in your partner. Then, they’ll start casting people in order to find the most suitable candidate for you. The casting director of the show is who hosts the interviews and has the final decision about it. Not to scare you but… they want it to be a surprise, something about «recording more realistic reactions and interactions».”

“They try to play it «real», I get it. It rhymes, how can I say no?”

Hyejeong snorted. “It’s mostly scripted but they leave some space up to improvisation. It would be just like you keep filming some fiction. I assure you.”

Taehyung scanned the contract quickly. During the four years, Hyejeong had been his agent she had gone wrong just a few times he could count with his fingers. If she was convinced it was a good deal she was probably right…

and the money was good too.

He clicked the button of the pen on his hand. “Well, it seems I am getting married.”

 

[2]

May, 9th

Taehyung was in the middle of a break from filming a particularly complex scene for his character. He was playing the persecutor in charge of erasing the corruption of a big lead organization under a famous brand name that was involved in all sort of dirty business, from prostitution to slave traffic. It had been an intense shooting from day one but that day they were recording a scene in which his character, Hyunsuk was about to find the missing piece for his investigation.

Of course, -plot twist- he had been betrayed by one of his colleagues in the court and got kidnapped when he was leaving his office right before he could gather all the evidence in the same place. And now, he was being tortured in a cold humid basement in an abandoned building outside the city, fighting for his own life.

Typical Thursday night.

He had prepared himself so well for that character and that particular moment. He had watched all sort of gore titles and mafia films in order to portrait the best expressions while being tortured; pretend physical pain every time he tried to speak and heavily breath believing he had just a few more hours to live. His character was holding to dear life -and all because of that small case of the missing girl that didn’t seem to have much connection with the main plot right in the pilot-. He knew it was risky but he got involved anyway as he had to almost irradiate a blind sense of justice from his body, and all his hard work finally began to bear fruit.

The actor was so immersed in his role he didn’t notice when shortly after the director shouted cut, the other cameras entered into the studio and a red envelope appeared on his lap as if it was a magic trick while he was relaxing after the shooting.

“What in the world…?” The make-up artist removed all the fake blood and bruises from his face just in time. The cameras were thirsty to catch every single second of it.

Oh, God.

He had forgotten about that little detail buried in his mind back in February.

A couple weeks ago, Hyejeong had told him the recording of the reality was going to start soon but he did not expect to be there, in media res, right when he was filming the drama of the moment that had everyone at the edge of their seats. Of course, the transmission of the variety show was going to be after the last episode aired thus he didn’t have to worry about the superposition of both things affecting his performance in front of the audience’s eyes.

He was still confused when he opened the envelope.

Read it aloud. The first line put.

He blinked a couple times and wetted his lips before using his best reading voice, getting back into character. The nation’s sweetheart everyone wanted to see.

He intoned with a solemn voice tone as if he was reading a speech. “Mr. Kim Taehyung, are you ready to meet your husband?” a smile curled on his lips. “The wait is coming to the end as you’ll meet your lucky partner for this season of «We Got Married» in just a few days. We promise it will be the perfect match for an actor of your size. Get ready, because the spouse part is more difficult to play than any other character you have done so far.

“Oh is that so?” Taehyung shook his head showing a bright beam. “Since I’m playing Seo Hyunsuk at this exact moment we’ll see which part is more difficult.” He laughed and then looked directly at the camera.

He could wear that image effortlessly like a mask.

“Cut. We got it.” Someone said.

“You guys have permission to shoot in here right?” Taehyung asked the production team before drinking a sip of water.

“Yeah, no worries. We got it at the first one, it’ll only take a few minutes as we promise. Maybe when we have to switch to other locations for filming but that will be some other day.” The cameraman took a look at what he got recorded. “How are you doing Taehyung? Catching some bad guys for what I can see.” He said while adjusting the lenses. “Good work in that baseball movie, I cried like a baby.”

“Kind of. Thanks, I’m doing the best I can.” He smiled shyly. Being easily recognized was still unreal for him.

“We’ll shoot the commentary now.” One of the production members informed.

His stylist applied some more blush on his cheeks. He supposed she would try to make him look flustered, flushed like a peach.

“Good job. Now we can move to the first line. Introduction.” A woman on her late forties with red-eye cat glasses and short hair approached to him. “Park Suji, producer. You’ll see me often around, call me Su.”

“Got it, Miss Su…” The woman kept scanning at a pile of papers she carried with her without looking at Taehyung. “When am I going to meet my fantastic fantasy husband?”

She finally lifted her gaze. “Impatient, no. Determined, I like it. Listen up, I’ve been working on this TV show since the very first beginning when it first aired more than a decade ago. You might think this is children’s game comparing to what you’re currently shooting. It’s not.”

Taehyung remained quiet, paying attention to every single word that came out of her mouth.

“Make two people who barely know each other to pretend they are falling in love is not an easy job. It requires lots of editing and compromise but mostly, it demands for a team ready to catch the moments.

“The moments?” He contained a grin.

“The moments the public wants to watch. The ones that make the show keep running. You have to have the awkwardness of the first meeting, the sincerity moment in which the relationship grows and the bittersweet ending with both saying goodbye in the most touching way possible.” She lit up one cigarette.

“Ma’am, you’re not allowed to smoke in here.” One of the production members of the studio murmured.

“I don’t respond to your people.” She said while waving, ignoring the worker entirely. Then she looked back at Taehyung. “You’re an actor, I like working with actors. They know how to get the work done and that’s good because it makes my job easier. You can be my accomplice on this and that will benefit both of us.”

“I guess…” He shrugged.

“Excellent. I’ll count with you then.” She let a dense cloud of smoke out making Taehyung feel a little bit dizzy. “Now, we have to record your first solo scene in front of the camera. You’ll have to introduce yourself. Nothing too extensive, we have written a few lines you should consider but overall, make it-”

“Spontaneous?”

“You’re going to be perfect for this.” She threw her cigarette on the floor and step on it. “These are our flashcards for this part, name, age, profession… what are you looking in your future partner.”

“The real ones or the ones that fit the narrative?” He lifted an eyebrow.

The woman smirked. “I knew you were going to be a gem. The ones you wrote in your profile would do. We’re making a more extensive version in a couple days.” She scanned his face. “Pretty one, the audience will love it.”

“So you’re definitely not going to tell me about my match, are you?”

“We’re ready.” She shouted before he had time to react.

He looked at the camera, licked his lips and took a deep breath.

“Hello everyone,” he bowed politely. “My name is Kim Taehyung…”

 

Home, sweet home.

That’s what Taehyung told himself when he put a step into his empty apartment.

Finally, silence.

It had been a long day, probably the longest of his life, shooting the action-packed scenes –he had a stunt double of course but that didn’t mean he didn’t have to work less because of that- if he wanted his acting to be plausible, realistic, memorable and those things took time and effort. A lot of effort.

Just two more weeks and the filming would be over.

Maybe he should just cancel the whole We Got Married production and use those months to rest instead.

His legs were sore when he sat on his sofa and put them on top of the armchair, he almost melted among the cushions. He slowly closed his eyes just for a second when his phone vibrated on his pocket. Taehyung cursed and palped his jacket until he found the mobile device.

It was a text message from one of his friends, actor, and model Kim Seokjin.

Message from Seokjin:  Are you watching this?

Taehyung squeezed his eyes.

Message from Seokjin:  Turn on the TV. Channel twenty-eight.

The actor complained a little more while searching for the remote and turning on the TV, after pressing a couple times the buttons, he came across the gossip channel.

One of the presenters was talking about him and his performance on the drama that had just begun its transmission.

“…It was clever they had picked up a fresh face to play the part of the persecutor. It adds something to the storyline while combining with the skills of much-experienced actors. Especially working with someone like Bae Doona as his co-star who already is well-known in the industry for her international roles and association with big names…”

That filled his chest with pride.

“He was cast among hundreds of postulants and has chosen his latest projects very carefully. It seems like he’s going to take off with this drama.”

“I used to think he was an idol because he’s really good-looking and in person he’s breathtaking.” Other panelist commented.

“He’s also well-mannered. Other co-stars and staff members had praised him for that.”

Taehyung smiled, satisfied with those comments.

“Although… didn’t he had a minor scandal last year?”

Oh, great. There they go.

“It was a rumor, no one confirmed he was dating a male co-star from that movie…”

“«Sensational Hit»”

“That’s the title. Anyway, he ended up coming out after the law was approved and received critics for his declarations.”

Now he wanted to turn off the TV.

“He chose the perfect time to do it. I thought no one else was going to hire him. It would’ve been a shame to waste his talent like that.”

“Just because his sexual orientation he could’ve lost his career.” The way that woman said it, it was as if she was disgusted.

“Just because…” Taehyung repeated and turned it off for real this time.

His agent was right. It wasn’t about that corny TV show, it was about making the difference, generating a change from his position. He could prove to the audiences he could play both parts, the dauntless persecutor in an action-packed drama and the perfect caring fake husband in a variety show, and he could play them regardless any malicious or miss-intentioned comment the media could throw.

His phone vibrated again.

Message from Seokjin:  Sorry, they were mostly praising you when I started watching it.

He typed fast.

Message to Seokjin:  Don’t worry, I’m used to it.

Message from Seokjin:  The agency wants me to be in the panel of your variety show. I’ve said yes because I would cut a bitch if they try to come for you or your hubby.

Taehyung smiled.

Message to Seokjin:  I bet you would. Thanks for accepting. You’re one of the few people in the business who truly knows me.

Message from Seokjin:  You know you don’t have to do it if you don’t want to, do you?

Message to Seokjin:  I know. I want to do it.

Message to Seokjin:  Oddly enough, I have a good feeling about this.

 

Later that night after brushing his teeth and putting his pajamas on, Taehyung opened the internet browser on his phone and found some news related to the announcement of We Got Married season five. The netizens had gone wild and made it trended everywhere, there were a few nasty comments Taehyung decided it was better not to read but the positive ones he found really lifted his mood.

1: [+845, -48] “Well, it seems like I’m watching this season.”

2: [+1209, -299] “Good for them, it has always been a monotonous show.”

3: [+694, -30] “I’m excited to know who’s participating.”

4: [+422, -15] “The celebrities who take part have my full respect. Ah, they are very brave.”

5: [+120, -5] “Is someone confirmed already? I can’t wait!”

6: [+1754, -72] “I’m happy the media will stop ignoring our existence, I just hope they don’t clown us or try to fit a determined image.”

He felt it on his chest, not only he was sure it was the right decision.

He was actually excited.

He was supposed to be glistening with joy; after all, he was getting married.

 

Chapter Text

«Who met a boy…»

[3]

May, 31th

“How long have you known Taehyung?” One of the other panelists sitting next to him on the large sofa in the studio, cameras suddenly were on him.

Seokjin rubbed his chin and ran his fingers through his silky black hair. “Well… we were part of the same agency. While I was scouted on the streets he entered for a friend who was auditioning too. We were trainees in acting but he switched companies so we didn’t meet for a while until we reunited for a drama… We also shared a few modeling gigs and magazine covers so we become closer after that. He was really young when he got into the show business… around sixteen? Now he’s twenty-three… wow, time really flies.”

They put a couple of pictures of them during their trainees years, Seokjin wanted to hide under the sofa. The rest started cooing because they looked very young. They also nodded, impressed by the longevity and let out various “oh” and “ah” while more pictures were showed on the TV screen.

Did they really have to put that picture of them going for drinks after one of their premieres? They were young and wild...

“Do you think he’ll make a good husband?” The lady sitting next to him, -she was a guest too, part of a girl group and bandmate of one of the girls who also participated in the season of the show.

He had been waiting for that question for the past twenty minutes when he first sat on that horrendous patterned piece of furniture.

“Taehyungie is the sweetest boy I’ve ever met and I’m not the only one saying it. My opinion might sound a little biased but all over the years he has developed great social skills, he’s respectful toward the elder and seniors but he’s also nice to the younger and he absolutely loves children. It might be because he’s very family oriented and won’t shut up about his nephews and nieces, his parents and grandparents… whoever gets to be his husband is surely lucky.”

Seokjin assured, he looked confident while saying it, after all, it was what he had practice. Next, the screen went back to Taehyung getting ready for his first date/meeting. He seemed very nervous and his lovey-dovey attitude was contagious. His friend knew there were cameras recording his reactions too and he couldn’t help but look fond every time he appeared, he was there for that reason. He laughed at loud when the younger hit the top of the car while descending and the production played it from three different angles.

Poor Taehyungie. He thought.

He was more anxious than the usual. It was the expected since he was about to be set up with his co-star who, at the time, was still a nameless face with an interrogation sign.

Seokjin, back in the studio, had to act as if he didn’t know who his husband was already since Taehyung had ranted for hours about it when he first found out. Also, he had to pretend those cut and edited clips showed more than a partial key part of the truth of what really happened that day.

He drank some water and sealed his lips.

Boy, if he could actually talk about it…

 

May, 14th

[Virtual Marriage: Day 1]

“So… where are we going again?” Taehyung drummed his fingers on the leather seat of the car.

Don’t get him wrong, there was a certain charm on being… blindfolded.

Okay, maybe he was just being kinky.

However, he was feeling more than jittery, his leg kept moving restlessly while the car advanced, his hands were sweaty. He couldn’t help but mentally re-checking the list of possible suitors he had elaborated with Seokjin in the past two days, they had some wild guesses about the potential matches for him but Taehyung didn’t want to spoil entirely the surprise.

“We never told you where we’re going.” The cameraman pointed.

Shit. They were good.

Taehyung bit his lips. Now what?

They had been in the car for around twenty minutes since the crew had picked him up at his apartment first thing in the morning after having breakfast. The studio had sent him a light blue suit –very stylish by the way- and a white shirt –of course, he added the belt, the white snickers and the patterned tie he had chosen himself. Inside his jacket, there was a mission card in the interior of another red envelope, it put:

«The day has finally arrived, your future husband is waiting for you…
 but first, you’ll have to find him...»

He suited up and brushed his hair. The makeup artist of the program had applied some foundation, just a touch of blush on his cheeks and a pink lip tint that tasted like strawberries. One of the producers –different to the lady of last time- explained while the stylist finished with his eyebrows, they were heading to someplace -he couldn’t reveal yet but his manager was informed beforehand; he didn’t want to say a word either- he would get another mission card when they arrived.

He was accompanied by his manager, Sejin, who was pretty much the only reason he hadn’t fully panicked yet. Every time they stopped in front of a traffic light, Taehyung couldn’t help but hearing his heart drumming against his ribcage as if it was going to explode in any second.

It was the first day of his marriage –well, his simulated marriage- but he couldn’t shake off the feeling he was being driven into a life commitment. He knew it was kind of dumb, for some reason, he was feeling like a hopeless romantic who was about to meet his other half. Fine, in his defense he was a hopeless romantic but also he had filled a form writing what he’d like in a partner meaning he was supposed to get something close to the man of his dreams, right? Damn it, he should’ve requested insurance or a ticket to return him.

«Instant marriage: SATISFACTION GUARANTEED OR YOUR MONEY BACK»

That should’ve been their slogan.

It would attract the viewers.

The production team kept mumbling inside the big van. Taehyung tried to catch the flow of their conversation but he couldn’t focus properly. At some point, someone turned on the radio, a song was already playing. He had heard it before somewhere, it was popular some time ago but he still heard it often. It had been doing relatively well on the charts even if the singer wasn’t as popular to remember his name after the first listen. Now he understood why, the singer’s voice was soothing, relaxing.

The song was a ballad with some EDM sounds combined, but the singer's voice stole the spotlight. It had such a vivid color, that voice had been made for singing and every lyric, every time he hit the tone it matched the emotion perfectly. It was transparent, crystalline, relaxing. It was just what Taehyung needed.

For a moment, he allowed himself to close his eyes and enjoy the melody, getting absorbed by the sound of music as if it was water and the van was an aquarium he was inside.

And then, the vehicle stopped, so the engine and, in consequence, the music. That was the signal.

They had arrived.

His tummy was replete with disquiet butterflies fighting for a fraction of space, it was chaotic and wonderful at the same time. Maybe that's how magic felt.

“Taehyung, we’re here. Now we’re going to help you get out of the car and then guide you a bit, then when you hear the signal, take the blindfold off. Got it?”

“Okay.” He said. “Please don’t let me fall or trip over something…” A member of the staff unlocked the door. “I don’t want to embarrass myself in front of the cameras and-” He held someone’s hand –probably his manager’s- but at the moment he attempted to make an entrance, he stood up before time bumping into the car’s ceiling.

For an instant, there was a contained collective wish of laughing from the crew who kept it low although the actor caught some quiet chortles.

“Please don’t use that shot.”

“We won’t.” Someone tittered.

Oh, they were so going to use that.

With that starting, Taehyung could only hope things would get better from that moment on. It had been useful to relieve some tension with the comical moment.

He needed to get back into character, play it cool, play the Taehyung the media and the fans cherished and loved.

He displayed a radiant smile and kept walking guided by mysterious hands. He tried to decipher what was all that bustle… children’s laughs, birds, maybe some cicada in the distance… he was still outdoors, that was the only certain thing.

Wait a minute, it was like that movie...

Suddenly, they stopped again.

“You may take the blindfold off.” They announced.

Taehyung closed his eyes preparing himself for the abrupt change from complete darkness to blindly clarity. He untied the knot and removed the fabric piece with both hands, blinked a couple times until he got used to the light and finally admired the scenery before his eyes.

His mouth opened in awe and his lips curled into a smile.

It was a local spring fair in the middle of a park. There were a lot of balloons everywhere, bouncy castles, a house of mirrors, jugglers, ambulant food sellers, magicians, stands with stuffed animals as prizes, trampolines, carousels, games and even a Ferris wheel painted in pastel colors.

“Whoa… whoa…” He repeated. The camera recorded his amused expression. He suddenly felt like a kid again. A big beaming smile appeared on his face, none of that was faked.

There were so many lights, music, and joy. Families gathered together –even if they had been clever enough to pick a day of the week instead of the weekend when it was even more crowded-. Taehyung couldn’t decide where to lay his eyes first. The colors of the blossoming spring were all over the place as if the studio itself had planned it like that. While he was still trying to absorb all the information through his eyes, a giant teddy bear wearing overalls approached from behind.

Taehyung almost had a heart attack. It was a surprise to see the human-sized version of a stuffed animal standing next to him. The young actor smiled joyfully again and couldn’t help but hug them. Don’t blame him, it was very squishy and he really wanted a hug –it was a bear hug, after all- The bear waved after he released it. The person under the suit pretended to scratch their head and pulled a red envelope out of his pocket.

“Oh.” Taehyung grabbed it and then the bear left.

That’s right, he was in a mission.

The actor licked his lips and read aloud.

«Welcome to the spring fair, the first step into your marriage is to walk a path of flowers and find the major prize at the end of it…»

These people were… seriously, so cheesy. Taehyung held his laughter back.

“Ah,” He smiled. “So my husband is here according to the previous message and I have to find him. Where he could be at?”

He pretended to think about it while behind the camera, a producer gave him a camera in a selfie stick for him to record himself and indicated he had to take a step to the left, where most of the fair games were. A woman in a black cap was holding a letter that put: Go to the third stand in the middle, the game is ring toss. Ask for your partner to the man in charge.

Noted it.

Taehyung looked around and began walking toward the games part. Occasionally he also looked directly to the camera he was holding and pull some face or winked while walking.

Taehyung had been praised for his facial expressions and cuteness that was surely something the public would want to see. He was also having a good time outside, he couldn’t remember when the last time he visited a park like that. Perhaps he was working but that didn’t mean he couldn’t enjoy it.

He arrived at the stand and bowed politely greeting the man in the funny dotted bow tie. There was a rainbow flag flying in front of it. Huh, nice touch. They were actually trying.

“I’m looking for my husband. Have you seen him? I have no idea how he looks like but I’m positive about it.” He said and the man shook his head.

He encouraged Taehyung to participate in the game and offered five colorful plastic rings for him to toss and attempt to win the game. Now, Taehyung wasn’t the most athletic guy out there –well, let’s not forget he had done some physical improvements to portrait his last two characters- but in general, he wasn’t the sports type. Although, what he didn’t entirely have for physical activities, he compensated it with his stubbornness and competitiveness.

He wasn’t going to lose.

He needed three out of five to win a prize and the note inside the red envelope mentioned something related to prizes. He missed his first shot, maybe because he was nervous but being entirely impartial, he was already quite close to succeeding. Taehyung blew a missing hair lock, then he concentrated –just like he did when the big cameras were on him.

If he was on the set, he would have to think just like a character he was portraying. In this case, he’d have to pretend he was someone who would win that little game. Maybe, he could be a circus artist, like the ones that wore makeup and spandex, not like the main act but something in-between, to entertain the public. His audience would be across a TV or computer screen and he had to be convincing.

And, just like that, right on the target. Score.

That was the kind of scene they should put on repeat, it was a fantastic shot.

Taehyung’s face lit up as soon as he got the second one.

One more was all he needed.

Of course, that wouldn’t make things interesting. He also needed to miss his penultimate chance to create some more expectation for the people who would be watching at home. So he failed on purpose because he could. The crew behind the cameras let a collective sigh out and Taehyung just shrugged, his lips turned into a thin line making his cheeks pop.

Taehyung, at that point, already knew that the team behind the show would edit everything to make it look even more dramatic and funny. Real life was much faster and he didn’t miss a second to toss his final hot pink ring. It spun a couple times but finally stopped, marking the end of the game and crowning him as the winner.

The actor celebrated his small win and the man of the stand rewarded him with four helium balloons in pastel pink, baby blue, green and ducky yellow. He grabbed them and showed it to his personal camera while a lovely grin expanded all over his face. The production team held them in the meanwhile because apparently, that wasn’t the only prize he had to win.

The giant teddy bear appeared again and brought another red envelope. This one had the drawing of the next game, the water gun stand across the park. That was his new destination and Taehyung didn’t lose a minute to get there. He was enjoying the little treasure hunt more than he expected.

On his way there, two teenage girls wearing masks recognized him and pulled out their phones. Taehyung waved at them but before he could say something, someone of the crew explained to them that they couldn’t post that in any social media until the show began being transmitted.

Sometimes it was difficult to forget the barrier artist/fan, Taehyung couldn’t conceive the idea of being idolized by a lot of people even when he had been in the spotlight for years now. He was grateful with all the people who followed his growth since the beginning and the ones who joined afterward but he didn’t think himself as a celebrity, he just happened to love acting and one of the extras of his job –both, good and bad- was becoming an easily recognized face wherever he went.

Taehyung wished he could say something else to them but he had to keep walking and complete the given task. He found the next stand and if for the past one he pretended to be a circus artist, for this one he would play the deadliest snipper whose target is the most wanted criminals: a gang of sunflowers. Try hunting a criminal with a neon water gun but the intention was there.

He hit right on the spot right on the mouth of the happy sunflower with the smiley face and the balloon behind it started filling until it was full and a little bell rang above it. There, Kim Taehyung, second win. As soon as the game was over, the girl of the stand handed him a little bouquet of yellow, purple and white freesias, it smelled amazing, it was simple yet delicate.

“How many more I have to get?” Apparently, the answer was four.

Four prizes of the carnival. That wasn’t so difficult, was it? He was already half-way there.

His fluffy friend, the teddy bear came running with a new red envelope, poor bastard under that suit.

“Ah, thank you.” He bowed quickly and took a look at the picture.

This time the drawing indicated he had to follow the lead to the bottle stand where they had baseball balls. Well, it was time to relieve the role that took him to the glory and had everyone talking about him for weeks, months. For the baseball player role, the least he had done for it was learning how to be a good pitcher, that came handy for the game. Some always said the bottles were glued together into a little pyramid but Taehyung knew he had to use a bit strength and his great aim.

He pretended to warm up a little by moving his arm and elbow. He took a deep breath and then shoot! Taehyung had a good arm for that, even real baseball players had told him so, or maybe they were just being nice. Whatever was the case, he knocked down the pile of bottles in the blink of an eye.

The producers were impressed. Taehyung’s charisma exceeded their expectations and trespassed the camera lenses. He was naturally likable and every smile he directed to the camera was more sincere than the previous one. Add some sound effects and some elevator music and that would make the rest of the magic for the sake of the show’s corniness.

“Wait, where’s my prize? Is it my husband already?” Taehyung asked with his puppy eyes.

“Almost there.” The cameraman indicated.

He received a ticket this time, one to ride the Ferris wheel.

Taehyung wasn’t a fan of heights but the fair’s wheel wasn’t that tall and even little kids were in line with their parents. The actor waited his turn while pulling faces to a baby that was in front of him until they were next.

Which meant, he was next.

He couldn’t help but bit his lip out of pure nervousness. He had both hands full with the balloons, the flowers and the selfie stick he managed to carry with him. The actor noticed he was riding alone, no cameras were with him so he had to make sure he got the shot with the one he had been given or the reaction would not be the same for a second take.

At some moment, the producers distracted him and the make-up artist gave him a little retouch in the meantime a figure slid into the cabin before he could notice. Taehyung climbed into the light blue cab, the balloons blocked his vision to the point he thought he was alone. Maybe the idea was that he had to spot his husband from there or he would have a giant sign or a plane would trace a message in the sky with cloudy ink… something crazy like that.

He tested the camera to confirm it was recording. “Hello… hello... one, two, tree…”

When he lowered it a little, he realized.

Not only his heart did a flip, but he also jumped on his own seat. His pulse was running wild and he had to make an extra effort not to curse in front of the camera.

There it was. The giant teddy bear in the overalls, waving at him.

Oh, that made sense… the balloons, the flowers, the tickets, and the fourth prize was a teddy bear from the fair.

If it wasn’t so cute that could’ve been a horror film.

The Ferris wheel stopped when their cabin reached one of the highest points and they were on the spot where the sunset could be appreciated it.

Taehyung was an idiot.

He had been in front of him all the time and he only figured out until now.

“You!” He pointed his index finger directly to the person inside the costume. “You’re my husband?!”

The teddy bear nodded.

“Oh my God… Oh my God! I was so distracted I didn’t even notice…”

The teddy bear seemed to be almost as restless as Taehyung since he kept moving his leg and fidgeting his big clumsy fingers.

“So… Ugh… are you taking off your mask or…?”

Taehyung was blushing, why he was blushing?

He was a professional, he had to remember this was planned. All of it. He couldn’t get flustered that easily.

But he was also dying to know.

“Pretty please…?” He asked cutely making the bear to stiff up.

He started removing his stuffed animal head and there… it was.

He was in front of him after all.

His husband-to-be.

Taehyung didn’t expect that but as the good things in life, sometimes the ones that arrive unannounced and out of blue, the ones that hit us with the surprise and taste a little bit like a chance are the ones that are meant to make us happy.

The boy in front of him shook his head a little trying to fix his messy hair. He awkwardly bowed like a hundred times unable to raise his head. Taehyung copied and greeted him as well. But when he lifted his gaze, it was the actor’s turn to remain speechless.

He had seen that face before, in music shows, video clips, maybe banners across the city celebrating his birthdays. But it was true what they say about meeting people through the screen and then in real life, there’s nothing that can possibly prepare you for that type of encounter. Taehyung didn’t realize he was still holding his breath.

He was pretty, and that’s something, to begin with it. Alright, he was undeniably handsome and blame Taehyung for staring but there was something about his face and features that made him take more than a second to appreciate them. His large nose and sharp jawline, his cute doe-like eyes and thick eyebrows… the tiny almost undetectable moles he had here and there and a pair of cushioned lips glossy with peach balm. His dark brown hair was definitely tangled and he was sweating a little under the costume but he still looked like he could snatch anyone’s heart.

Not to mention… Taehyung’s…

Okay, he had summited a form but he never expected them to be that accurate because that guy was one hundred percent his type. Blame him for liking cute little things with wide shoulders a bit of muscle… he was human... and gay.

The boy kept covering his face, probably thinking his image would look bad after being trapped inside a costume for a couple hours.

“Hello…” Could he stop bowing? “I’m Jeon Jeongguk and I’ll be your husband for the season, please take good care of me.” He spoke really fast, low and formally.

Jeon Jeongguk, he recalled hearing that name before.

He was actually nervous. Taehyung could feel how his heart shrunk.

The actor smiled widely. “If I tell you that I’ve been looking for you all day, would you believe me? Sorry I made you wait but… uh… I got these for you.” He extended the flowers for Jeongguk to grab them.

“I can’t… hold them… really.”

Oh, the costume, right.

“Sorry! I’m sorry, I’ll give it to you later. Ah,” he hadn’t introduced himself properly yet. Rude. “My name is Kim Taehyung, I’m an actor.”

“I-I know.” Jeongguk’s face was still currently covered by one of his hands.

“You don’t have to do that... it’s just us.”

The boy was shaking underneath the bear suit. He didn’t look at Taehyung in the eyes.

Well, the production would have to make it without more footage than what they already have because he was turning the camera off if that made the young boy so uncomfortable. Jeongguk looked again when he noticed what Taehyung was doing.

“Now, let’s do this properly. I’m Taehyung, nice to meet you, Jeongguk.” He extended his hand for the younger boy to shake it.

He hesitated for a moment but then he pulled his –human- hand out of the costume. “I… ugh… I’m a singer.”

“I know that. I’ve definitely seen your face before at some subway or bus station.”

Jeongguk seemed a little puzzled but then he nodded and used his free hand to run it through his hair trying to comb it a little more. Then he rested his forehead against the glass of the cabin and let a big sigh out of his chest.

“Are you okay?”

“Just a little… ugh, tired.”

“It’s alright, I just... wanted to do this right without the cameras on. We’re going to be working together for the season so…”

“Yes… I’m aware.”

He looked a bit spaced out, valid since he was probably caught in a tight schedule just like most of the idols he knew. Taehyung had a gift with people and he had always been nice with everyone in the media –even when some people didn’t deserve it- Jeongguk did look a bit haggard. He stared at the view for a minute out of the window.

“Oh, you can see the crew’s van from here; it looks like a toy car.” He pointed.

Taehyung shook his head. “I don’t really want to look outside… It gives me a bit of vertigo.” He admitted.

Jeongguk looked terrified, his eyes widened comically. “Oh, God… I knew this was a bad idea I should’ve never suggested it in the first place.” He buried his face on his hands. “They should take us down by now anyway what’s with…” He gestured toward the exterior so the wheel would move again.

“Wait, so you planned this?”

The tip of Jeongguk’s ears turned a bright shade of pink. “Uh… well… I gave them the idea but… they did the rest… I guess.” He shrugged.

Taehyung’s eyes twinkled.

He was cute. Really cute.

“Don’t worry, I can handle it.” He giggled a little.

Jeongguk’s lips disappeared into a line. Taehyung spotted another little mole under them.

At that moment, the Ferris wheel started moving and they were on their way back to solid ground.

The cameras were on them as soon as they put a step back onto earth. The producer from before, Ms. Su was mumbling with a phone on her hand and a lightened cigarette on the other. They announced they got the shot and they needed to get Jeongguk out of the teddy bear costume in which he was obviously slow burn cooking.

“Next scene we’re going to shoot in the tables under the trees. Over there.” The female producer with the black cap indicated. “It will be something simple, you’ll grab something to bite and we’ll get you a milkshake.”

“Oh, alright. Can I use the bathroom first? It’ll take just a few minutes.”

“Yeah, the bathrooms are behind those stands.” She pointed.

Taehyung rushed and pulled out his phone once he was out of sight. He was dying to text Seokjin.

Message to Seokjin:  You’re not going to believe it.

Message to Seokjin:  I’m in the middle of my first day on WGM and I just met my husband.

Message from Seokjin:  Spill. The. Tea. Bitch.

Message to Seokjin:  So… you know Jeon Jeongguk?

Message from Seokjin:  As the idol Jeon Jeongguk? I have heard of him. He was on the OST of one of my dramas I think.

Message to Seokjin:  Anyway, I don’t have much time but I just wanted to tell you… this could work.

Message from Seokjin:  So you like him?

Message to Seokjin:  I know it’s a bit early to say it but he seems like a good guy?? I don’t know, he is nice and he helped plan the surprise which is… whoa.

Message from Seokjin:  I didn’t think you’d be catching feelings this early.

Message to Seokjin:  Oh, shut up. I’ll never catch feelings, this is merely professional. I’m just saying he seems to be a decent human being… I don’t know.

Message from Seokjin:  You think he’s cute.

Message to Seokjin:  Well, you know me… I like faces?

Message to Seokjin:  I’ve to go. We’ll talk later, I’ll give you all the juicy details.

Message from Seokjin:  You better, for the sake of our friendship.

The actor kept smiling to himself. Taehyung was excited before but now? He was more than amused to participate in the season, not only he was going to have fun in the meantime, he was also going to spend a lot of time with this adorable singer who was adorable and-

I don’t want to do this.”

Oh.

He never was one to eavesdrop but…

That was Jeongguk’s voice.

“…I don’t think you understand. I don’t want to be here, I thought I would make it but I can’t.”

The elder froze nearby the bathrooms. Jeongguk was talking on the phone and he looked like he could kick a rock or something the next seconds.

“Is it too late to step off this? I can’t stand him.”

Was he… possibly talking about Taehyung?

“I didn’t ask you to pair me up with Kim Taehyung that was your idea. You said it was going to be easy but I don’t think I’ll be able to do this for the next couple of months. I did everything according to the script; I even told him I had planned this.” He sighed. “I know we have an agreement and a contract but… please…” He almost begged.

Taehyung's soul dropped.

There was a long pause in which Jeongguk didn’t say much just some “buts” in between.

In the end, he hung up clearly without getting what he wanted it because he sighed loudly enough to be heard.

Sigh counter: 2

Taehyung bit his lips.

He had only been nice to that guy and that’s how he got repaid?

He felt hurt, humiliated, after all, he was sacrificing his schedule, working hours to make something good, to actually invest on that TV show like the professional he was but apparently, Jeon Jeongguk wasn’t in the same page than him.

Taehyung clicked his tongue ready to say something when someone called their names to resume the show filming.

Oh, right.

They had to be falling for each other.

Although Taehyung could only think on how revenge is always sweet as a milkshake and he was thirsty.

Really thirsty.

Chapter Text

«…and they lived happily ever after…?»

[4]

May, 14th

 [Virtual Marriage: Day 1]

“You sit over here.” The girl in the cap indicated.

Taehyung peeped over his shoulder; Jeongguk was still talking with someone who looked like his manager. He didn’t have much time left.

“Hello, uh… excuse me…” He looked at the girl from the production. “I think I don’t know your name.”

She looked –apparently- younger than him and she was shorter than him so he really had to look down to talk with her. The girl was wearing what looked like the staff unofficial uniform, a black cap covering her dark hair held in a messy ponytail, a grey light sweatshirt, jeans, and snickers.

“Yeeun, Choi Yeeun.” She kept writing things on a clipboard but stopped to meet Taehyung’s eyes.

“Yeeun… got it.” He caught a glimpse of his partner who was still busy before sitting on the picnic table they had set to keep filming. “You’re part of the production so you know what’s going on in here…right?”

“Sort of…” She looked baffled. “That’s my job.”

Why the star of the show was talking exactly to her?

Answer: because she seemed to be reliable.

Taehyung had observed all the production team earlier and if there was any problem, even if she was one of the youngest members of the staff, many went directly to her -including Miss Su herself. For some reason, Yeeun, silent and tiny like a little mouse, moved fast and could go into the places most couldn’t. She was quiet and went unnoticed but for some reason, she was indispensable.

Just the type of ally Taehyung needed on his side if he was heading to war.

And oh boy, he was ready.

“I feel so overwhelmed... With everything that’s going on and the surprise meeting on top of the Ferris wheel… well, I’m kind of lost.” Taehyung flashed one of his registered dazzling squared smiles. He lowered his voice tone trying to sound they were sharing a secret in confidence. “Because I just met my husband and I know nothing about him more than the fact he’s an idol and well… that he’s very cute I must admit.” He shrugged.

And an asshole just for the record, but moving on…

She crossed her arms on her chest. Closed position, negation. A bad beginning.

“Didn’t you read the script for today?” She sounded harsh.

“Of course I did. I memorized the questions in the blink of an eye because I couldn’t sleep at night.” He giggled. “But the thing is, I only have half information, my answers, and his questions but… I think that’s not enough. Do you think you could… I don’t know; maybe share something with me so our next shots aren’t awkward?”

“What are you saying?” She didn’t buy it entirely, fair enough.

He still had some things under his sleeve.

“Some facts… likes, dislikes… things I can bring up… make small chat…”

Her gaze softened.

“Oh, well… I’m not supposed to tell you… but a few things would make my job easier.” She flipped a couple pages on her clipboard until she found some notes. “Let’s see… He’s twenty-one born in 1997…in Busan.”

So the brat was, in fact, younger than him… two years. He should’ve figured out since he was being all formal and stiff but still…

Plus he noticed the accent even if it was minimum.

“Singer, composer, dancer… Virgo. Blood type A…”

Nothing he could really use.

“He has one older brother...”

Taehyung kept his attentive listener façade, trying to avoid any suspicions but so far there was nothing useful among those random facts they had collected.

Things he could find online. He needed more than that.

He tried to spy with his little eye but Yeeun was about to turn the page again, he had to think fast.

Time for plan B.

He dropped her pen and, with big wide full of guilt, he gasped.

“I’m sorry, I’ll pick it up… Wait a second.” He clumsily attempted to stand up almost hitting a vase strategically placed on the table.

God, where were those cameras? They should’ve recorded that performance.

Yeeun stopped him. “I’ll do it.”

“Oh, okay, I’m really… butterfingers… I think it fell over there.” Of course, he pointed the opposite direction and used his feet under the table to kick the pen even further.

The girl sighed and left the clipboard on top of the table to kneel and get the pen.

That gave him like thirty seconds starting… now.

Pull out the phone, keyboard shortcut to the camera with two clicks, flash off, sound off, page marked with the tip of his pinky… bingo, instant-profile on his pocket.

When Yeeun rose again, he was sitting with an apologetic smile on his face like a little angel.

“I’m sorry again.” He used the puppy eyes, devastating.

“It’s okay… I’ll call him now. We have to start soon before we miss what's left of the sunset.” She grabbed her stuff and retired heading toward where the younger was.

Taehyung unlocked his phone and hurried to read all the information gathered in three slightly diffuse pictures -also a bit out of focus- but legible enough. He scanned and read attentively until… oh.

The biggest Cheshire cat smile curled on his face.

Very interesting…

 

[5]

May, 31th

“And what about you, Jimin, since when do you know Jeongguk?” The presenter turned toward him after the video stopped and the cameras were back on them.

Jimin’s face lit up before the mention of his friend.

“Jeongguk is like… a little brother to me. We are both from Busan so when he transferred here to study and become a singer he ended up assisting to the same secondary school I was. He was just a small bean back then…” He reminisced.

The panel displayed some pictures of the younger on the screen. He still had that gleam on his face and mischievous charm.

Jeongguk was just a skinny little kid how he could forget that image? The memory was still vividly engraved on his mind since day one.

Ugh, the studio lights were too hot, he was melting but he was doing that because he had asked him to and there was no way he was going to let his friend down. Jimin was ready to jump on anyone’s throat if they were ready to say something about him but he managed to keep the calm and smile through the whole anecdote when he knew damn well it had been like hell for the younger. The recording had just begun but Jimin knew it was never the same participating in a project because you wanted than when the agency made you.

“…and when he debuted I had his song blasting everywhere because I was so proud… I can’t believe it’s been three years since then.”

He skipped the part of the obligated hiatus and the rumors and just smiled.

Keep smiling, that’s what you do, that’s what we were taught.

Jimin was good smiling, he had one of those smiles that were trustworthy, that could blind an entire room and that was perfect for any situation.

“Jeonggukie… he’s going to be a great husband. He might look a little cold at first but that’s only until he gets out of his shell. He’s actually shy when there are strangers around but give him a little time and he’ll warm up.”

Back to the video.

They kept playing the clip of Jeongguk getting out of the Ferris wheel, the next shot was the picnic table.

He glared at Kim Seokjin who was sitting on the other sofa.

The smile vanished and turned into a smirk.

He knew what was coming ahead and so did Jimin.

 

May, 14th

You might be wondering what happened with the whole «professionalism» and «serious actor of the nation»… the thing is… Taehyung was hurt. His ego had been injured in the span of three minutes and no one, under any circumstance, could have that power over him… never again.

So yeah, he took the evil path of the revenge but in his defense, he didn’t know, okay? He didn’t know a thing about him except what he had learned from a blurred picture on his phone thirty seconds ago and he wasn’t going to use that information precisely for… «good purposes» as he had expressed before.

“Hey, you again!” Taehyung lifted his gaze from his phone.

They had set the table with the same pastel colors of the fair, a checkered baby pink and white tablecloth, yellow, light blue, green and rosy balloons, cupcakes, a rainbow cake covered in white frosting and sprinkles –subtle… again, they were trying- a couple vases with flower and two milkshakes with everything even the sprinkles and cherry on top. The balloons and the flowers he had won were also in the table next to a teddy bear that was wearing the same overall than Jeongguk. It was like a mini version of him.

He wondered if he could use it as a Voodoo-doll.

Taehyung rested his chin on his hand, elbow fixed on the table while with the other hand he hid his phone from his sight. Then he really stared at the younger.

Well, hello. Who are you?

He wasn’t wearing his bear costume anymore but he didn’t have to pull out the boyfriend look agenda right in front of his rainbow cake. With his ripped blue jeans and black belt securing his tiny waist –anatomy, explain- and that yellow shirt tucked inside his pants –don’t let him start on the church boy/pastor of youth outfit because it was unfair he was nailing it that carelessly- and the coconut hair that made him look so young.

Jeon Jeongguk.

Is it too late to step off this? I can’t stand him.

Taehyung shook his head as the boy’s words echoed inside his head.

No matter if he looked cute like a marshmallow and Taehyung might have wanted to pinch his cheeks so badly… NO.

“Yeah… hi…” He sat next to Taehyung in a respectable distance.

Ugh, he was so respectful and polite, Taehyung hated it.

Time to cut the distance.

The elder pulled his chair closer to him until their knees touched.

“That’s better.”

“Huh…” Jeongguk scratched the top of his head.

“Oh, I think my left ear is plugged due to the height of the Ferris wheel I can’t hear properly.” He excused himself.

“Ah, alright then…” He nodded but avoided the elder’s gaze.

The camera crew was adjusting the last details to begin recording. In the meantime, Taehyung noticed that Jeongguk was still as nervous as when they were riding the wheel, his hands were still sweating and one of his legs moved out of beat under the table.

“You’re not going to faint, are you?” Taehyung whispered. “I was serious when I asked if you were alright.”

Just then the singer met his eyes. He hadn’t realized the proximity was closer than what he anticipated and in consequence, their noses almost touched. Jeongguk blushed furiously and looked away.

“The costume was… too hot. I think I might have dehydrated a little.”

Sure, that was the reason behind it.

“Didn’t you drink water in the break? You sure took your time back there…” Taehyung casually mentioned while inspecting a cupcake.

“Oh? No, I forgot…”

“Really?” Taehyung looked at the cupcake and then back at the boy and without missing his eyes, he licked the white frosting slowly making sure the younger had his eyes fixed on him as if the rest of the production team wasn’t around them. “Don’t do that, you’ll get… thirsty and we don’t want that, do we?”

He made a little mess and made sure that some of the cream remained stuck on his lower lip so he could use his fingers to clean it afterward.

“Do I have something on the lips?” He asked innocently with his index pressed on his bottom lip.

He saw Jeongguk gulping and he enjoyed every second of it.

Shy. His profile said. Let’s see how shy you are, Jeon Jeongguk.

Not only he was blushing now, his face was red tinted, even the tip of his ears.

Well, well, well… he guessed they couldn’t write dirty-minded on his profile.

The singer just passed him a napkin and looked in the distance probably wondering how long it was going to take the cameras to start recording so it would be over.

“Thank you,” Taehyung smirked. “I don’t want to ruin our shots.”

“We’ll start in a minute.” The cameraman announced.

“The cardboard is in front of you with the lines written; one of the members of the team will keep showing them in case you forget something but don’t stare directly to them or the camera.” Yeeun pointed when she reappeared on the frame.

They both nodded.

“Silence in the set. Microphones are working.” One of the producers shouted. “Light, camera… action!”

The red light was on which meant the cameras were officially recording.

Showtime.

[SHARE YOUR FEELINGS ABOUT THE MEETING] The board put. [KEY WORDS: HAPPY, GLAD, EXCITED…]

They have really listed emotions down for them to express their joy about the meeting.

“I’m really happy we finally met.” Taehyung expressed following the instructions. “I didn’t know how you were going to look like but I’m glad the wait is over.”

Miss Su had her thumbs up at the back.

“Yes, I… I’m happy too.” His voice sounded like it was being computer generated. He looked at the table and then back at Taehyung.

He was really that shy, huh?

They were in Taehyung’s forte, in front of the cameras. He had the advantage of knowing how to act in front of them, how to charm the audiences with his natural talents, Jeongguk could use some of that.

He could make it better.

[ENJOY THE TREATS ON THE TABLE]

Did they have to make that obvious? Apparently, the answer was yes.

Taehyung was tempted with the idea of unwrapping another cupcake but instead, he extended his hand almost across the table on Jeongguk’s direction and grabbed the younger’s designated milkshake which was banana flavor as he had guessed.

“Sorry, my throat is dry and I don’t want strawberry flavor, it’s a bit too sweet… You don’t mind, do you?” He took a long sip of it. “Oh, we could share it, I think there’s another straw over here…”

“It’s okay, you can have it…” Jeongguk’s lips tried to fake a smile.

Taehyung let a pop sound after drinking some more. He handed the other milkshake glass which the younger had to accept and suck with the expression of a defrauded toddler who was promised a candy store visit but ended at the dentist clinic instead.

Banana milk. That was an odd thing for a twenty-one-year-old but Taehyung was not one to judge, he loved strawberries more than any other fruit but sacrifices needed to be done.

Around them, kids were still playing and families were walking around. Some passerby lifted their gaze, curious about what was going on in that little romantic improvised set. The big microphone was right above their heads ready to record every single one of their words and the cameras attentively followed their moves and anticipated the close-ups.

“I just want to say you looked so cute in that bear costume I could’ve never guessed my future husband was underneath it. I thought you were just a furry helper." He covered his face with his hands as if he was Cupid's latest target. "Was it all your idea? You shouldn’t have bothered, the weather is quite warm.”

The younger gulped and drank some of Taehyung’s milkshake.

“I would be concerned if something happened to my teddy bear the first day of shooting.”

Jeongguk choked on the beverage. “It was… nothing really.” He managed to say.

“I love this kind of fairs but I never get the time to go to one due to my busy schedules… Thanks for considering it… since it was your idea.” The words came out of his mouth like daggers. He made sure to put extra emphasis on them.

“Yep… It was a great idea…” Jeongguk was questioning more than the teddy bear costume at that point.

Something unexpected happened, the younger turned around and looked directly at Taehyung who couldn't hide the satisfaction expression of his face.

Taehyung was pleased he was making him awkward by exposing his lying ass in front of everyone but, at that moment, something clicked and the younger squinted his eyes as if he had taken a guess.

Jeongguk scrunched his nose and then opened his mouth to speak. “I heard you are filming a drama right now I hope I’m not interrupting your schedules while having you in here today… I wanted it to be a surprise for you.”

He...

He actually could do it better? He had just recited those words in a perfect tone and without stuttering even once.

That was one of the suggested questions the writers had listed for them but there was something on his voice that aroused suspicions.

“It took me by surprise because I was told the spouse role was going to be difficult to play but with a husband like you I believe it won’t be a problem.” He made sure their eyes meet at that exact moment.

Not even the screenwriter of a drama could’ve predicted the scene they have in front of them.

“That’s good… because…” Jeongguk tilted his head and smiled. “You’re definitely my type.”

Wait, what?

What was that Taehyung was feeling on his cheeks? It wasn’t warmness. It couldn’t be. No.

He wasn’t blushing. No.

And it wasn’t his heart beating inside his ribcage. No.

He heard a couple members of the staff trying to contain their giggles.

That wasn’t on the script.

Fucking Jeon Jeongguk, that wasn’t on the script.

The actor bit his lips. “Ya, don’t say things like those… we’ve just met and I barely know you…” He patted his shoulder with a little more strength than the recommended.

“Yeah but…” Jeongguk grabbed the hand that just patted his shoulder and held it for an instant.

No. That wasn’t happening; his profile clearly said he didn’t like skinship. Not even a little.

“I feel like we were meant to be.”

Oh, c’mon.

He was going to throw up.

Where was that bouncy castle? He was drowning Jeon Jeongguk under a mountain of plastic balls.

He better read the expression of his eyes.

Fuck you, Jeon Jeongguk.

He was the actor, he was supposed to be in control of the situation and he was supposed to be the one making that brat flustered all along. No the other way around.

It wasn’t the moment to lose the calm. “You talk too much but… when were you born?”

“Ah, that… September 1st of 1997…”

Taehyung joined his hands and showed a smile. “I was born in 1995, December 30th… which makes me… older than you… You’re just a baby! Cute…” He went for it, he pinched his cheek but not for the right reasons.

Jeongguk let a weak. “Ha…” out while moving his head to avoid the grabbing. “It’s just two years…”

“Do you have any idea how much rice I had had in those two years…?”

“Where did I hear this before…?” The younger shivered. “You’ll get along with one of my friends…”

They weren’t even looking at the board anymore but the production was quite amused by their natural… chemistry if you wanted to label it in some way.

“We should pick a name for us… as a couple?” Jeongguk suggested out of blue, changing the subject.

Clever. Really clever…

“We could be…” Oh yes. He was going to say that for national television. “The «honeybear couple».”

Look what you made me do, Jeon Jeongguk. He thought.

The younger tried hard not to grin and in the end, he shook his head.

“Is it because you’re mellow like honey?”

Taehyung clicked his tongue. “And also because I’m sweet and I’ve been complimented for my honeyed tan skin… but all the merits are yours since you can be my Winnie Pooh from now on.”

Jeongguk looked like his soul had just abandoned his body. An awkward smile appeared on his face.

“Do you have any other idea we could use, honey?” The singer glared.

Taehyung pulled a thoughtful expression. “Well… let’s see…”

“We could combine our names somehow? What about Jeontae or Gukktae...” Jeongguk began listing while counting with his fingers.

No fucking way.

“Taegguk.” He beamed brightly. “Taegguk is a cute word.” Taehyung imaginarily threw confetti in the air.

The Taegguk couple.

It wasn’t that bad actually…

“Why is it your name first?” Jeongguk asked.

Of course, he was going to ask that…

“Because I’m older than you.”

Age before beauty, sweetie, and in my case I have both…

Jeongguk cleared his throat. “Ah… Mr. Kim... you don’t have to presume your longevity in front of the cameras.”

Mr. Kim?

Was he insinuating he was old as elderly old?

He was mocking on his face.

That bastard had just called him old... in camera... for national television.

Taehyung wasn’t going to lose in an improvisation game. “Ah… but you underestimate me, youngster…” He made his deepest voice tone, impressing even the crew members by how low it sounded. “When I was your age…

“Two years ago…”

But you will never be my age.

Jeongguk blinked and clicked his tongue.

“Then I guess is decided, Taegguk it will be.”

It was the moment for a counter attack, the moment to ensure the game.

He didn't even let him breathe and that was the key.

Taehyung flustered his long lashes and smirked in a way he hadn’t shown before, his secret weapon.

“Jeonggukie… this teddy bear reminds me of you.” Once again he extended his arm to grab the object across the table. “I hope you don’t mind I take it with me as my gift… so I can think of you all the way home and also… hugging it in my sleep.” He pressed the plush against his chest.

Jeongguk gulped.

That’s right. Kim Taehyung wasn’t going to lose on his own game.

You're doomed, bitch. He thought.

But during a match, there can be a wild card waiting to appear.

“Then… if you’re alone in the night… we’ll have to move together soon.”

Taehyung was speechless just like the rest of the people around them.

He extended his hand for the younger to shake it.

“I’ll be looking forward to it.” He said grudgingly.

Cut!” The director shouted.

The producers clapped, especially Miss Su who was suddenly moved by their impeccable performance.

“It will be a pleasure to work with you, Jeon Jeongguk.” Taehyung mumbled.

Jeongguk hadn’t let go of his hand yet, he wasn’t shaking it anymore, he was holding it, tightly.

“The pleasure will be mine.”

“I assure you, it will not.” He let go of their grip first and while standing up, he grabbed another cupcake taking a big bite of it.

“You have met your match… Mr. Kim.” He said before start heading the opposite direction. He looked back one more time.

Taehyung turned around and winked at him and then started walking.

You don’t have an idea.

His match?

That implied he lived up to him.

"Let's find it out, Jeon Jeongguk." He mumbled to himself.

[6]

May, 14th

 [Virtual Marriage: Day 1]

Forty-five minutes ago

“Hi, it’s me… Jeongguk.” He whispered. “Look, I know I said I was going to do this but… I don’t think I can do it.” He began explaining.

His forehead was still soaked wet with sweat because of that teddy bear costume. What a terrible idea, he couldn’t believe an entire crew of producers couldn’t come with something more original and less «45º C degrees inside of a giant plush in the middle of spring» thanks for your consideration.

Jeongguk, we’ve discussed this before and revised point by point why it was a good idea…”

Right, he was supposed to «clean his image».

It wasn’t his fault.

They had repeated it a million times but even now, he kept doubting. They had said nothing of that was his fault but they had to do something about it, they had done it for him, for his own benefit.

The fans hadn’t seen you in a while…

They had put him in an indefinite hiatus, there was a time where he thought he was leaving the stages forever but the chance knocked on his door when he less expected it and in the way he less expected it…

 

February, 19th

“What’s exactly We Got Married?” Jeongguk asked in a low voice from his seat on the couch.

“You haven’t heard of it?” Daeyoung, his agent asked in disbelief. The man of short hair and black dark office suit kept walking around the room.

He shook his head. “I think one of my cousins used to watch it but I can’t remember much exactly.”

“It’s a variety show that basically pairs up two celebrities in a simulated marriage in which they have to complete different challenges and go to dates together… it’s supposed to reflect the ideal matrimony life of two perfect individuals who, under other circumstances, could be easily condemned for being spotted together.”

“Ah, yes. It rings a bell…” He coughed. “My bad.”

That's how the conversation began. Daeyoung explained the new concept they were working on. It was risky considering how fragile the situation still was in the country, there were sectors that would frown before the intention of the show while others would cheer the idea. Whatever was the case, the project had reached his agency's offices and he was the one they were calling.

One of the few out there.

“I know how it sounds but…”

“It’s damage control…” He repeated the words he had heard before. “Can I think about it a bit more? I’d like to make something related to music instead…”

“Jeongguk… I know that but we can’t do that at the moment. Baby steps, that’s what we have to do until the time is right.”

Jeongguk nodded in response. It’s part of the job.

“Then… who will be my husband?

 

May, 14th

It had been worse than what he thought.

Kim Taehyung was perfect in every sense of the word.

He was attentive, sweet, good-looking and definitely someone that would catch Jeongguk's interest in different circumstances.

But he couldn’t do it. He couldn’t do that show.

It was unfair, it wasn’t his fault but still, he had to pay for something he never considered a mistake. He had to find a way out of it or he was going to lose his mind. It was suffocating. The cameras recording, the pressure of being a fake couple, being affectionate for others to watch the intimacy of a relationship that wasn’t even theirs… It was too much. Suddenly the idea wasn't as good as when Daeyoung had presented it back in February.

“I don’t want to do this.” The words flowed out of his mouth. “…I don’t think you understand. I don’t want to be here, I thought I would make it but I can’t.”

Jeongguk, please reconsider it. We need you to be on the show, the contract has been signed already and the other half of the production has been filming already. They have the material and are planning to release it as it goes.” His agent tried to talk him through it.

«I don’t want to do this» wasn’t enough for them. It wasn’t his choice; it was an obligation until he mended his fault until his sentence was over.

Quick, quick, he had to think of an excuse.

Unless the concept flops, you’ll have to put your best face and do it… you’re under the same conditions as your partner…”

His partner.

If there was a problem with his partner they weren’t going to obligate him to keep shooting? If they weren’t liked as a couple he could walk off it.

“Is it too late to step off this? I can’t stand him.” He lied.

The only real complain he had about Taehyung was that it was difficult to conceive a coherent sentence with a breathtaking man like him in front of his eyes.

His hair was dark brown probably because of the drama he was currently shooting –not that Jeongguk had watched a few episodes… or all of them so far- and his skin looked warmer than midday sun, caramel drizzled melting, shinning. Brown eyes like fudge, framed with long lashes, he also had the particularity of having different eyelids, it was a detail that made his face even more appealing. He was pleasing to watch, a delight to the eye and whenever their eyes met, Jeongguk felt like his heart stopped.

He wasn’t the problem… the problem was that for Kim Taehyung it was so easy, he actually felt a little envious of the actor easiness to portrait his part. But he wasn’t the problem at all… in fact he was perfect and he also made the perfect excuse.

What? You don’t like him? But he seems to be very nice… and the producers told us…”

“I didn’t ask you to pair me up with Kim Taehyung that was your idea.” He kept talking now that the words would come like an avalanche. He had become a good lier in the span of five minutes. “You said it was going to be easy but I don’t think I’ll be able to do this for the next couple of months.”

The guilt stroke, he didn’t have the fault either but Jeongguk had put the blame on him to excuse himself of that TV show.

It’s a bit too early to say that, give him a chance. He can’t be that bad.”

They weren’t going to let him out of it. They weren’t going to let him do music again until that stupid variety show was over.

He was angry, angry with everyone and everything.

“I did everything according to the script; I even told him I had planned this.” He sighed. “I know we have an agreement and a contract but… please…” He almost begged.

I’m sorry, Jeongguk. I know the conditions aren’t ideal but you’ll have to put your differences aside and work together until the contract is over. The agency could be sued for breach of contract. The showrunner doesn’t have time to find another suitable partner and they probably have enough material for an entire episode so far. They would be losing money and so would be our company.”

It was unfair.

He wanted to cry right there.

It was so unfair.

I tell you what, complete the filming today and if you still don’t like it at the end of the day, we’ll find a way to make it tolerable. Jeongguk?

One of the women of the production –Yeeun, he recalled- waved towards him to resume the recording.

“I’m here… okay… yeah.”

The show must go on.

He took a deep breath. “Okay, I’ll try… goodbye.” He hung up and walked heading the set table for their next scene.

Jeongguk massaged his nose bridge and let out a frustrated sigh out of his chest.

So that was it, he would have to do it anyway even if it was against his will.

He was so immersed in his thoughts he didn’t pay attention to where he was stepping and because of that, he almost ran over the woman from before.

“Noona, I’m sorry…” He apologized and helped her picking the clipboard she was holding. There was no salvation for her cup of coffee he had just dropped on the ground. “I’ll buy you another one, you can have mine… I haven't touched it.”

He didn’t mean to read her notes but he couldn’t help but noticing it were notes about well… them. In detail.

“No worries.” The woman in the black cap assured. “It was my third cup anyway. You probably made me a favor.” She extended her hands and the boy gave her the board back. “I’ll have to revise some last minute things, please stay around, the shooting will restart soon.”

He nodded. One of his managers approached to tell him about the rest of his weekly schedule.

On the other side of the place, Kim Taehyung was chatting with the woman.

He was naturally charismatic and made everything look so effortlessly. Jeongguk wished he was an actor too sometimes.

The boy didn't listen to anything his manager was saying, instead, he kept staring at Taehyung, trying to unveil his secret.

Oh no, he had just dropped something on the floor. What a day for the poor Yeeun…

Jeongguk felt like going and helping.

Wait a diddly minute… what was he doing with his cellphone?

Taking pictures? What for?

What are you doing, Kim Taehyung? And why do I care? He wondered.

 

It wasn’t until later that day, minutes after, he understood...

Taehyung, for some reason, was playing a game that required two for tango.

The singer had one thing clear: if that was how he wanted to play, they were going to play and Jeongguk wasn’t going to lose.

Maybe it was true.

Maybe he was going to change his mind after all.

Maybe he had his perfect match in front of him or at least, he was going to take up the challenge.

 

Chapter Text

«I can hear the barks»

[7]

May, 17th

"Taehyung,” his agent woke him up from his fantasy dream. “any ideas?”

Taehyung took a look at the list of possible dates he had elaborated to go with Jeongguk so far.

  1. Swimming with sharks: Outdoors activity. It could bring consciousness about wildlife and he could have the chance to throw his partner at them while watching how the fishes devour his smudge look while enjoying a bottle of soju in a boat.
  2. Parachuting: Despite him being scared of heights, Taehyung would get on a plane if he had the chance of pushing certain idol without the parachute. Accidents happened all the time. Or that's what he would say to the press.
  3. Paintball: Just give him a gun, a time and a place. He had plenty of reasons to shoot him. He thought he was smooth, huh? Plus the painting would be decorative and would bring his creative side to the surface, hidden talents. Kudos.

Uh... I have nothing." He held the phone against his ear with his shoulder. "Why do I have to come with something anyway? There's a whole writing team behind the show and I thought it was going to be entirely scripted.” He stretched his legs under the kitchen’s table and drummed on the surface with his fingers.

“It is. But they can use a lot of ideas you won't necessarily enjoy since you're obligated to do it. Take the chance to make it your vacation. A game.”

A game... interesting she mentioned it.

“Still, why do they need me to think about this when they are the experts?”

“They asked us suggestions of activities that would fit with your profiles, something that the viewers would enjoy watching because you'll enjoy doing.”

Taehyung crossed his arms on his chest. Either they were being very considerate because they wanted them being comfortable or they were out of ideas… maybe both even.

“I'll think about it just give me some time... talking about time,” He ripped the page out the notebook and made a ball of paper before dumping it with the other discarded ideas.  He sighed and picked the phone again. “when did you say am I seeing my hubby again?”

"I thought you got your schedule. Today. You're having coffee together and both of you are going to house-hunt afterward."

Fuck. He had forgotten.

Then… if you’re alone in the night… we’ll have to move together soon.

Damn it. He had to bring that up and get them into the mess that was house-hunting. Couldn’t they just have coffee and pretend they like each other for an hour straight? People would still watch it.

Maybe he was still on time to poison his cup before they had to go through that modern torture.

“Are you comfortable with him? You seemed a bit... agitated when we spoke on the phone the other day.”

«Agitated» wouldn't be the first word of his choice but sure, it was a way of putting it.

“Me? I'm okay... more than okay, peachy, perfect... excellent...”

He started doodling in one corner of a new sheet of the notebook where he had been writing his previous plans.

“Alright... I guess...”

“I'm fine, don't worry.” He assured.

Listen, Taehyung. I got a call from production and they are delighted with you two. They think it’s a good idea to start airing the episodes next month after recording some commentaries and having the perspective of your friends. Which I recall you asked me to contact Kim Seokijn to do it.”

“That’s right but… Does that mean they would air it while the drama is still ongoing? I thought they would specifically do it after the last episode was released.”

They said they didn’t want to wait too long since the notice could leak and civilians have seen you recording something. No one has spread it, so far, there are just speculations but it’s the matter of time until someone puts two plus two and cracks the secret. There are many who want to know who’s going to star this season. I told you it was a big deal.”

“Nosy… curious… people always want to know what’s going on. Alright, I can deal with it, I just don’t want it to affect my work. I know it’s work too but I mean… I don’t want it to affect the seriousness of the drama, it has a reputation of its own already. I don’t want to be the actor better known for being part of a reality show.”

You won’t. I’ll make sure of that. Now, back to your partner…

“Nothing to worry about it, we’re getting to know each other. That’s part of the story they want to tell… something about the awkwardness of the first meetings I believe it was called… I’ve gotten it worse in the jungle, trust me.”

“But if there was a problem, you'd tell me, right? I don't want to have any inconvenience with the producers calling me in the middle of the shooting...”

“We both are grown-ups and professionals... there's nothing that can go wrong... plus I like him, I really do.”

«Like» was a wide word though.

Taehyung added some little more details to the cartoon of Jeongguk wrapped in a rope hanging above a shark tank.

Adults. Professionals.

A little animosity wouldn't kill anyone, right?

 

[Virtual Marriage day 2]

Taehyung made sure he looked ready for the cameras before they arrived at the location. He had been told to dress up casually so he did but that didn’t mean he had to renounce to his fashion senses.

He picked a checkered flannel shirt in grey and blue, a basic black tank top underneath, dark skinny jeans, a pair of black and white Converse, a mustard beanie from his collection covering his hair but allowing some rebel locks to show up and a Lacoste crocodile necklace he found in front of his mirror before leaving his apartment.  He didn't usually brag about his appearance so blatantly but he looked good without even putting all his efforts on it and he knew it.

If there was a thing Hyejeong was right, it was that he had to take things with calm, as if it was his recess from his real job. He had accepted to be part of that TV show mostly to entertain and teach something to the audience at home but to have fun with it didn’t have to be a discarded option.

After another three days of exhausting drama filming, he needed a break urgently and Fridays happened to be his free days. Even if it meant he had to spend it with Jeon Jeongguk, he had so many ideas of ways he could step up in the competition but if he couldn't practice with the subject of his investigation, what was the point?

The usual van of the agency picked him up; his manager was in the front seat so he could relax in the back, checking on his phone… Plotting something, who knew?. He scrolled down some gossip pages he hadn’t got the time to check.

During the couple days they've been apart, Taehyung came to the conclusion he barely knew a thing about Jeongguk while the singer did know him -he had stated it when they first met.

Thus, he did a little research - do not confuse with the term stalking since the ways were similar but the purposes varied- he did what it had to be done. He locked himself two days in a row after filming inside Seokjin's apartment with tons of Chinese food and gathered all the information available he had found about Jeon Jeongguk in the most trustful source he had, the internet.

After several hours, while lazing on Seokjin’s sofa with a bowl of ice cream –he had earned the treat for both, standing Jeongguk without murdering him with his bare hands and from being the starring persecutor in the highest rating drama of the moment- resting on his tummy, they had slid through multiple websites and blogs to find out a few things that were the basics.

He was an idol who was supposed to debut in a five-member group but the original formation the agency had formed suffered several changes and ended up dissolving it with him being the only original member that stayed in the company as a trainee. That's when the company debuted him as a solo artist since he was fully capable of standing by himself. He sang, danced and even rapped a few couple times and help to compose some songs himself; for his latest album, he had written three songs and he had expressed his wish of working in a couple more tracks in the future.

He had debuted in 2015 at the age of seventeen and his songs did well in the charts –his first song ranked thirteen as its peak or in the top twenty of many music platforms- and even if he didn't get his first win until one year later, the general public loved him and his fanbase grew bigger every year.

According to critics, his voice was versatile and could cover many different styles and genres. He got to do many collaborations with great names as in producers and other artists and he had featured songs for dramas and movies many times. Not only that, but he also recorded covers of English songs and post them on his sound cloud account for the fans completely free. Taehyung couldn't believe it.

He also was well-known for keeping a low profile in social media, his Twitter and Instagram accounts were mostly handled by the company and the fan-café was what he used the most.

Taehyung wasn't going to create an account to do further research... at the moment.

He also refused to listen to any of his songs or watch any video. He didn't want them to get stuck on his head so the younger could catch him humming a familiar melody and Taehyung had a good ear that couldn't resist almost any genre of music.

You’re being ridiculous.” Seokjin rolled his eyes.

You weren’t there! You don’t know him or what he’s capable of. If he catches me being a passive fan, he’ll use it against me. I’m sure.

Seokjin shook his head trying to hide a smirk. “Okay, now you’re being paranoid but whatever. I’ll search them on Melon once you leave.

However, he didn't find much of his private life. The most he had was just a short statement of his company when he came out as bisexual which actually surprise the actor a little. It was concise and didn't give many details, just as a response to comments and rumors regardless his sexuality, which if you asked him, was nobody's business.

Then there were lots and lots of pictures, fansign events, promotions, award ceremonies, end of the year festivals, concerts... He didn’t need to see him wearing cute headbands and what looked like a pink bunny onesie with everything and the bunny ears.

But considering it… it was good material for subsequent blackmailing.

Image saved.

Another thing, who in the world had taken those pictures of his thighs? Satan himself?

Image saved.

Just in case.

What was rare was that there weren't many recent things. He was in a rumored hiatus indefinitely and the latest gossip was that he was participating in a variety show, which was also based mostly on the fan's speculation. Whatever was the case, his latest release had been over a year ago and since then he hadn't dropped any new music except for one cover and a song for a drama that didn’t have any promotion.

That had taken away the possibility of being nominated and invited to certain awards ceremonies. Not to mention he didn’t tour nor presented in TV shows in a while.

That's all he knew about him, well, that and the things he had decoded from the pictures of his phone he had taken during their first meeting that wasn't much neither.

Jeon Jeongguk was an unsolved mystery and he liked puzzles.

One thing he had learned in his life about playing any game was that sometimes you have to take the chance and make a bet but also there are moments you have to wait patiently to make a move, calculate, observe and study your adversary till the moment is right.

He had rushed himself last time by thinking Jeongguk was just a naive shy boy from Busan. He was the devil in disguise. A Busan demon that was ready to play his game and maybe bend some rules. But by revealing a glimpse of his true self, he had also let Taehyung room enough to rethink his game and change the strategy -if he needed it- and also scheme some stratagems and tricks in the process.

He was immersed in his own thoughts he didn't even notice when they arrived.

“Taehyung," his manager addressed. "we're here. Did you get the copy of the schedule of the show?”

“Yeah, yeah...”

Coffee and house-hunting, a piece of cake.

 

That… he wouldn’t tolerate it.

That nefarious production team and their vile rotten minds had come with that.

There was one thing he couldn't handle.

Dramatic pause.

A dog café.

He hadn’t pay attention to the signal outside and he thought the happy puppy was something like the mascot of the chain.

Their meeting wasn't in a regular boring Starbucks or one of those fancy organic coffee shops that were so popular nowadays. It was at a dog café with tons of energetic enthusiast fluffy friends who automatically came to greet Taehyung.

He forgot about the chicanery and hate for an instant because of puppies. He kneeled on the floor and let them get closer. At least a dozen of them of every size and color, curly, straight, long, short fur; big eyes, droopy eyes, long tails, short tails, pointy ears, curious sniffing… that was surely what heaven looked like.

“Puppies!” He beamed. “Hi there buddy,” he caressed the big one. “hello miss, ah-ah, I know you want me to pet you too.” He patted a well-mannered lady who offered her head like a duchess. Before standing up again, he cooed and lifted one of the small ones while the rest of the pack got jealous.

Taehyung held the snow white Maltese against his chest so cozily the little friend fell asleep on his arms. He had no heart to put it back to the floor so he carried it with him eventually rocking the dog on his arms.

When he spotted the camera crew behind the tables he was once again aware they were recording. There was no sight of Jeongguk which meant he had got there earlier.

KimTaehyung1stWin#.

The first of many to come.

“Good afternoon, hello...” he started greeting all the people working without letting his little friend behind.

The cameras had captured his entrance perfectly even when he didn't have a clue, the authentic excitement of his eyes. They had been preparing several devices all over the place including a table that was especially ready for them to sit down and talk about their future together.

Ugh, gross.

Taehyung had read the script of the episode briefly, he had better things to do like rehearsing for the drama and stalking/investigating his fake husband. He remembered the highlights and that was more than enough… besides, if Jeon Jeongguk could skip the script so do he.

He sat in one free table where the makeup artist gave him a retouch. He waved at Yeeun who was walking around and the girl stopped to say hi.

“Isn't my husband here yet?” He asked in a melodic voice, well aware he wasn't there.

The girl kept her hands on her pockets and shook her head. “He's on his way; all I know he's a bit delayed but he should be here in brief.”

That meant he could make good use of the time he had left.

“About the whole house-hunting thing… do we really have to… you know, do it?”

“Well, we were actually planning to use that in further episodes but since your partner hinted you two couldn’t be apart and are in need of living under the same roof.”

Ah.

Taehyung grinned. “Yeah, I can’t wait…”

After saying that, the girl moved away to help miss Su with the lights on the other corner. In the meantime, he nuzzled the little dog sleeping on his arms and tried to relax until the real storm comes.

And speaking of the devil…

Spotted: Jeon Jeongguk looking like a snack while walking inside a dog café while wearing an all-black outfit. Dark trousers where  a black basic t-shirt was tugged into with a short-sleeved shirt on top of it, white and black snickers -more specifically, Converse- which made him match with Taehyung –blame him for being fancy toward the classics- he was wearing a colorful watch on his left wrist and that was the only hint of color to be spotted among his clothing.

He couldn’t take his eyes of the singer.

Jeongguk, as soon as he walked in, was received by the most adorable Golden Retriever. The dog looked completely exited by his presence, soon after the rest of the coffee shop pack were surrounded him to give him a welcoming sniff. Then Jeongguk kneeled on the floor and started petting all the dogs he could.

Fucking Jeon Jeongguk and his affinity with dogs. He was goddamn cute.

Taehyung felt like he needed to punch himself as he observed the entire scene happening before his eyes as if he was under some sort of trance. The dogs were all over him, moving their tails and licking his cheeks. He had the biggest smile on his face and that was an image he wasn’t going to be capable of erasing from his head anytime soon.

Perchance when he wrote «dog person» on the form of the show they had taken it seriously.

One of the members of production approached almost snapping his fingers while holding a sing that put:

[GO MEET YOUR PARTNER]

Taehyung gulped.

He woke up his hug buddy who was still sleeping comfortably on his arms and put it in a nest nearby before gathering some courage and counting mentally his steps as he got nearby. The actor walked toward not without taking a big breath and ignoring how fast his heart was beating inside his chest. He would have to get used to that sensation once and for all.

Taehyung wetted his lips and crouched making the dogs divide their attention between the two of them.

“Hi.” He greeted him and Jeongguk lifted his gaze.

Taehyung’s heart skipped a beat. It was the first time he saw a wide grin like that on his face and when he looked directly at him with those bright sparkling eyes, a tidal wave, an avalanche, an earthquake, a thunderstorm… he felt like the rest of his world was falling apart and Jeongguk was the only existent pillar.

As soon as he spotted the elder, Jeongguk’s smile turned into a smirk. “Hello, nice to seeing you again.”

And they were at it again.

One wrinkled grey Shar Pei leisurely walked toward them and rested its head on Jeongguk’s tight. The boy petted it as well before standing up and offering a hand for Taehyung to hold so he could use it to standing up himself.

As if he needed help, huh.

The elder accepted cautiously and he regretted it as soon as he did because Jeongguk lifted him with one move without even using much of his strength. He wrapped his warm hand around Taehyung’s wrist making his skin tickle underneath it and pulled him close enough for their faces to be separated just a few centimeters.

“It’s really nice to see you again.” He whispered with that cocky half smile on his face.

Taehyung snorted. “You’ve said that already.”

“I know, I just wanted to make an extra emphasis on how happy slash excited slash glad I’m about seeing my husband-to-be again...” Just then he let go of Taehyung’s arm not before shaking it a little.

Once the cameras were off, they walked together towards their assigned table and waited for sit until they got the instructions to start filming. The stylist applied some blush on Jeongguk’s cheeks as they spoke.

“Well, you better save some of those feelings because last time you overshared them, the production planned a house-hunting for us… and here we are…” He mumbled hoping their microphones were off.

Jeongguk clicked his tongue and “Oh, you don’t know how much I’m looking forward to it.”

“Yeah, you must be over the moon.” The actor’s lips curled into a pretended smile.

“We were eventually going to live together anyway, I just thought why to postpone it?

“Aren’t you considerate? Oh, I surely hit the lotto with you.”

“I’m the only winner in here.” The stylist applied some balm on the younger’s lips, he emitted a pop sound while staring directly at the boy next to him.

“You’re paying for my coffee just because you said that.”

Before the singer could protest, they heard Miss Su chattering on her phone as if it was an extension of her arm. Shortly after that, some guy of the crew told them they were going to record them ordering their beverages, playing around with the dogs and then relax and talk about what they wanted in their future home to get the footage they needed before the main focus of the episode.

He indicated where the cameras were located and reminded them –even though they had done an amazing job during their first meeting- there were questions that needed to be answered in front of the camera for the audience to be in possession of that information before the story advanced. Something very similar to connecting certain dots before exclaiming what a match made in heaven!

Which basically translated as «play around as much as you want but ultimately stick to the story arc».

Noted.

The two of them headed to the counter and waited for the cameras to stand into position. They greeted the barista in charge who waved back even though they would have to greet her again on camera just a couple of minutes after.

Taehyung took the chance to look at the menu.

“They don’t have banana milk I hope that’s okay for you.”

Jeongguk seemed bitter. “I’ll survive.”

“Sound, lights… action.” The director shouted.

They had written «The Taegguk Couple» on the clapperboard. Adorable

“Hello,” Taehyung saluted the girl in front of them who shyly bowed to them. “I’m Taehyung…”

“Yes, I know… I watched all your dramas…” She blushed a little and covered her face with her hand. “And you too… I love your songs.”

“Thank you.” Jeongguk seemed a bit flustered. “It means a lot.”

“What can I get for you and your…” She started taking note. That was her part; the previous one was one hundred percent lucky fan behavior.

“Husband… he’s my husband or at least he’s going to be.” He pinched the younger’s cheek shamelessly. Maybe that was their thing.

The girl whose name on the tag was Wonyoung looked at them with heart eyes and a mischievous smile.

“We’re moving together first… Oh, I didn’t realize we were going to live in sin.” Taehyung smiled displaying all his charms.

“Why? Are you suggesting rushing our wedding too?” Jeongguk asked with a spark on his eyes.

“Ah, of course, no silly…” He hit his back in what should’ve been playfully but might or might not had come intentionally harder. “We have plenty of time to plan that. Seriously, no…” He almost looked directly at the crew filming in front of them. “Now… you did promise you’d buy me a drink today, didn’t you?”

He shrugged. “You didn’t ask properly…”

Was he going to have a comeback for everything Taehyung had to say?

He would have to use the heavy artillery.

Pretty please…” Taehyung pouted exaggeratedly while wiggling.

Jeongguk’s eyes grew wider. He gulped and then cleared his throat while checking inside his pocket. “Ah… I-I’ll buy it.” He pulled out his wallet.

“Thank you, you’re a darling,” he tangled their arms together. “Isn’t he?” Taehyung tickled his chin which made the younger’s face reminiscent of a ripe tomato.

Wrapped around his fingers.

“Just for you…” He said articulating every word. “I’ll have an iced caramel macchiato, what is it going to be, honey?” Jeongguk was smirking again.

“I’ll have a matcha bubble tea and… do you happen to have cupcakes?” He asked innocently.

Taehyung felt how the younger got stiff under his grip.

“I’m sorry; we’ve run out of them.” Wonyoung said. “We have some good chocolate muffins, banana pound cake… oh, our churros are quite famous.”

Churros!” They yelled excitedly at unison. Their eyes met and for some reason, neither of them could stand it. Taehyung let go of his grip.

The moment of silence was filled by the voice of the girl behind the counter. “You guys are really sweet together…” Their barista couldn’t hold her giant smile.

“Thank you…” Jeongguk said timidly as he gave her a couple bills to pay. The production was going to replenish the cash later but the gesture was made.

“I’ll take your order to your table once is ready. In the meantime, don’t forget to pet our other workers. That’s their tip.”

“Got it.” Taehyung said. He felt his cheeks burning.

They picked a different table from the beginning following the team instructions, one with a sofa and cushions where the cameras had been strategically placed and was a bit more isolated thus it was quieter and more intimate for the shooting. They sat comfortably on the sofa and the cameras began recording how their fluffy friends came around again.

Taehyung’s little friend had woken up from his nap and with little steps found his way back to the actor’s lap. He even growled at Jeongguk when he tried to approach which made Taehyung cackle, of course, even his small buddy gave in to the singer’s enthusiast as soon as he found the right spot behind his ear to scratch. Traitors were all over the place, he noticed.

Another bunch of fluff balls soon started gathering around them claiming for a piece of cake. Taehyung used the time for focusing on the dogs and forget for a moment Jeon Jeongguk was next to him.

“Do you like dogs that much?” He suddenly asked.

The actor turned and met his eyes. “Who doesn’t? I mean… it’s impossible not to love dogs…”

“Maybe we should plan an escape and take them all with us.” He suggested.

“Oh God, that would be like Who let the dogs out.”

Jeongguk chuckled and it was one of those memorable moments that was worth to have some sort of record of. That could’ve been labeled as «the moment when Taehyung didn’t want to kill Jeongguk in camera».

Soon a waiter arrived with their order, two drinks to go and a trade of churros with two different dipping, chocolate and what they had been explained was called dulce de leche, a sweet milk-caramel thick confection, mix both and you’ll have either heaven or a good stomach ache. They practically pounce over the food once the waiter left.

There it was another odd coincidence, dogs and churros.

Odd… not bad odd but odd.

Maybe Jeongguk and he had more things in common than what he anticipated.

He could almost forget that he had been a jerk just a few days ago.

Only he couldn’t.

And most importantly, Taehyung wasn’t going to lose their game now that it was set although the rules looked ready to be broken when they weren’t even fixed.

Before he could even consider it, a red envelope appeared on their table, it was time to continue the show.

 

[8]

May, 15th

“It can’t possibly be that terrible. You’re exaggerating.” Jimin pointed before taking another sip of his iced Americano.

“It is.” Jeongguk extended his legs on the couch so he could rest his feet in the arm while covering part of his face with his bucket hat.

He hadn’t processed the previous day just yet. They were in the restroom of the agency and, since Jimin was sitting in front of him it was like a therapy session. It felt like one since he couldn’t stop complaining about his first shooting day. He had met his fake husband less than twenty-four hours ago and he hadn’t got used to the idea he would have to deal with his co-star constantly from now on.

“At least you’re doing something, aren’t you?” His friend said offering some comfort while he hugged his legs on his chest and rested his chin on his knees as the younger kept talking.

Jeongguk rolled his eyes. “You know well this is not what I meant when I wanted to be active again. I was aiming for something more… musical.”

“I know… but this is a start, you can make them change their mind.”

“It’s just… I’ve been preparing for a while for a comeback. I have many songs recorded that could be used to fill around three albums or mini albums or whatever… I’ve learned the dances, practiced the choreographies and all with the hope they would come to knock on my door one day to tell me alright, you’re ready. Just like when I first debuted only now I’m… stuck into a virtual marriage with some guy who allegedly dislikes me.”

Jimin sipped more of his coffee allowing him to vent it.

“I don’t know what am I going to do about it but… he was being very nice and then he became passive-aggressive all of sudden… and he’s collecting information for some reason? What do I know about Kim Taehyung anyway?”

“That he’s on his way of becoming a successful actor, he’s been one of our tourism ambassadors for around three years and now he’s leading one of the most watched and enthralling dramas in history...”

Great… I’m fucked up.”

“I don’t know… I always had the impression he was a nice person. Plus why he would be investigating you? It doesn’t make any sense. I trust you'll do know what you have to do, right?”

Jeongguk froze while thinking about it. “Beat him. I have to win this at whatever it takes.”

“Jeongguk, no…”

“Jimin, you’re a genius. I mean, I did play along yesterday but I wasn’t sure that was the right way.”

It’s not.”

“Thanks for your help. I wouldn’t have had the courage to face him this Friday if it wasn’t for you.” He wasn’t even listening.

“Jeongguk. I’m serious, you’re an adult and-”

“By the way, I asked for you to be my commander back in the studio. You know, the person who comments our scenes and stuff.” He started typing something on his phone.

“You mean commentator. Yes, I know that.” Jimin sniggered. “You’re not going to ask me to spy on whoever is on Taehyung’s side and get information from them? Because that would be-”

“Brilliant!” He jumped out the couch and stroke a victory pose. He could kiss the elder at that moment. “Oh my God, Jimin, you’re the best. I can’t believe you’re doing this for me.” He started walking in circles inside the room.

“No! Jeongguk… I’m not doing that. I refuse to take part in your childish conflict. You two should sit down and have a talk like the adults you are and… you’re not listening, right?”

Where do you think I can get one of those grappling hooks?” He yelled from the other side of the room.

Jimin buried his face between his hands. “Lord… give me patience…”

“Oh, what about those ski masks that cover the entire face?” He dashed back until he was kneeling next to him like a kid.

“First of all, what the hell are you planning to do with a grappling hook and a mask? Kidnapping him? Secondly, it’s spring you’d die with a ski mask before you could get out of the car and thirdly…”

He looked at his hyung with those big eyes of his.

“Jeongguk… I won’t-”

 

May, 31th

"Kim Seokjin? I believe we hadn’t been introduced properly. Park Jimin, nice to meet you.”

Seokjin lifted his gaze and shook Jimin’s extended hand.

“Likewise. Great job out there.”

The lights of the studio remained on but there were considerably fewer people around than when they were recording. Now they were in the middle of a break and as much as Jimin wanted to skip that part, there he was, in front of the actor.

I can’t believe I’m doing this for you… Jeon Jeongguk.

“Thanks, you too. I… wanted to talk to you because… we’re both here… in the comment section and I was-”

“They’re both idiots.” Seokjin didn’t even blink while saying that.

“Oh God, thank you.” He almost collapsed on the couch next to him. “I’m so relieved to hear that. I feel the same way.”

“If I hear Taehyung complaining about Jeongguk one more time I might as well rip my ears out. I’ve been counting the days to come here and free myself for a minute in which I can turn off my phone without getting that message of you won’t believe what he did now…”

Jimin let all the air of his lungs out. He felt lighter all of sudden.

Seokjin continued. “Let me guess… Jeongguk sent you to collect information from the enemy flank, didn’t he?”

“No way… you too?”

The elder nodded in response.

“No fucking way, they share one brain cell.”

Jimin knew both of them had some sort of infantile feud going on that worked as a disguise to hide what was really going on in there but he didn’t consider they were so alike until that moment.

“Not only that… they think they can use us as their chess pawns.”

“They do!” Jimin shook his head. “I love Jeonggukkie very much but I’m starting to think this is all very twisted… do you think we should do something about it?”

“Jimin… It’s not up to us for them to realize… water bottle?” He offered one of the cold ones that were resting on the table and then grabbed one for himself.

“Yes, thank you…”

“But, while it’s not up to us for them to tell them that part… that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun at their expense… I mean, it’s the least we can do, after all, everything is for them…”

“I’m listening.”

“What would you say if we are the ones heading the conspiracy?”

“A double betrayal… I’m down for it.”

“I knew I would find an ally in this mess. You must know, you’re the only one I trust in this place… Park Jimin.”

“I feel like this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

“Cheers to that.”

Their plastic water bottles clashed in the air. In the background, a video of Taehyung and Jeongguk had been paused.

It was only the beginning.

 

May, 18th

[ENG] 190518 Translation of the quoted tweet.

«Ah, everyone, you won't believe me when I say I have the weirdest luck ever. I was walking heading to work when I stopped by my favorite coffee shop to grab something to drink when I see one of my favorite actors comfortably sitting together in the sofas, there were a ton+

+of cameras around so I'm sure they were filming something but I didn't want to intrude too much and risk my chance. I couldn't even pull out my phone but I think they are filming a variety show... the thing is... they were both males!+

+Shall I reveal their identity or keep it to myself? It's too juicy.»

*T/N: Apparently someone has spotted a male idol and a famous actor filming something together in a popular dog café that's in the zone of Myeongdong, OP didn't mention their names but said it was going to be shocking for the audiences and to be ready. Speculations are that's for the new season of «We Got Married» that's been currently casting same-gender couples.

Trans cr; Alejandra @ krdramaupdates

© TAKE OUT WITH FULL CREDITS

 

Chapter Text

«Two lovebirds find a little love nest»

[9]

May, 17th

[Virtual Marriage day 2]

Look at him.

Look at that smug look on his smug face.

Who do you think you are, Jeon Jeongguk?

Taehyung secretly pulled out his phone and typed at the speed of light.

Message to Seokjin:  You won’t believe what he did now.

Seokjin replied shortly after.

Message from Seokjin:  I have a couple wild guesses...

Two days with Jeongguk and Taehyung had discovered something: how finite were the limits of his own patience.

And that, with the right person…

you can get irritated by the littlest things…

For instance, now that both of them were sitting in the back of the van waiting for the rest of the crew to finish packing their equipment, their driver and managers were picking another round of beverages for what was left of the afternoon and well… both of them had been left in the car with the air conditioning on like two kids waiting for their parents to pick a last-minute item at the grocery store.

They were sitting in the car’s backseat with the music playing in a barely audible volume that sounded much like mumblings coming from a different room; the sound of the blinker on was even louder than the song playing in some radio station. They both were at the most extreme opposites stuck to the windows with their seatbelts on and the most awkward tension between them.

Taehyung kept his arms crossed on his chest while Jeongguk was fidgeting with his fingers.

The actor sighed.

Sigh counter: 3

He looked tentatively at the younger but Jeongguk had his eyes wide open and fixed in the back of the front seat.

It felt like they had been trapped in there forever.

That silence was asphyxiating him.

“Can you stop? You’re bothering me.” Taehyung finally spat.

The younger clicked his tongue. “I was literally doing nothing that could possibly bother you.”

“That thing you do… with your ugh… with your fingers… is annoying.”

“It’s a habit I can’t help it.”

“Well, don’t do it.”

“That’s exactly what I’ve been saying… I can’t stop it.”

“Then try harder.”

“That’s why is called a habit because it’s something you do unconsciously.”

“I know what a habit is. You think I’m dumb enough to not know what the definition of habit is?”

“Just… forget it.” Jeongguk lifted his hands as he was holding an imaginary white flag.

Taehyung sighed even more loudly than before.

Sigh counter: 4

And the white flag was vaporized.

“That… that thing you do is hella annoying.” The younger fought back by pointing at him with an accusatory finger.

Taehyung rolled his eyes. “I’m breathing.”

“That’s exactly the point.” The elder huffed and puffed but Jeongguk ignored him. “You’re annoying.”

“How can you be annoyed by the fact that I’m breathing?”

“Because you keep doing it like that… do you know how many times you’ve done it? Four. Four times and counting.”

“Oh, you’re so obsessed with me you’re counting how many times I’ve breathed.”

“That’s not breathing… that’s the annoying thing you do... sighing.”

It’s a habit… Besides, you do it too.”

“So you’re counting every breath I take…”

“You’re admitting that’s breathing.”

“No-”

But before Jeongguk could complete his argument, Miss Su was taking her place in the front seat with an iced Americano, smelling like nicotine and lack of patience.

“You two… everything alright back there?” She asked while putting her sunglasses on.

“Perfect.” They both responded at the same time.

“Delighted to hear it.” She attempted to light a cigarette but then remembered she was locked in a car so shook her head and put it back on her pocket.

It looked like Taehyung and Jeongguk weren’t the only ones with shut fuse lately.

“We were just… talking about the weather.” Jeongguk commented.

“Quite warm, isn’t it?” Taehyung followed.

“Great.” She was now paying attention to them. “Did you have a good time at the café?”

“It was so much fun spending time with the dogs, thanks, Miss Su.” Taehyung displayed a perfect toothed smile as if he wasn’t about to kill the guy next to him just a couple seconds ago.

“And the churros were delicious.” Jeongguk added.

“I swear, you two are the easy part of my job… the other two couples we’re working with… ugh… Unbelievable. Everyone thinks they are entitled to tell you how to do what you’ve been doing for more than ten years.” She shook her head. “This world is full of little starlets and amateurs… you two… I can see right through you, pure professionalism.”

Identically, they smiled innocently when she looked at them through the rearview mirror.

“I adore you.” She smiled, pleased.

Miss Su focused her attention on her purse, looking for something inside of it. In the meantime, Jeongguk imitated the actor by exaggerating a silent sigh while grimacing and Taehyung mouthed jerk repeatedly.

“Now…” She turned back and was welcomed with the same credible pair of angelic grins than before. “We’ve revised several options for your accommodation and determined which one was the best. Considering we have to look where to place the cameras and all the heavy equipment, not to mention the whole team…”

She offered a couple of pictures of different apartments in the same area of the city.

“To keep the interest and the audience’s intrigue, we’ll shoot in two apartments that were among the options but didn’t meet the requirements before going to the definite place.” She grabbed a marker and held the cap with her mouth. “This one…” She babbled while drawing a circle on the picture. “One of you is going to say the kitchen is too small.”

Taehyung took a look at the picture. The place was like most of Seoul apartments, perfectly decorated, minimalistic, new… it was a catalog model, almost like a dollhouse for people.

“If you can come with some other comment about it, go ahead. Pick something you like and one you dislike and make it ten times worse but if you don’t know what to say, we’re sticking to the kitchen thing.”

She marked the second set of pics with a series of number twos. “For the option number two… the argument would be something related to the lack of sunlight, this apartment is located between a couple buildings so the windows are in front of more concrete and it’s cold as a brick.”

“Lovely.” Jeongguk whispered as he looked through the pictures as well.

It was also a nice apartment, unlike the previous one this one was smaller and just as Miss Su had said before, it was surrounded by other buildings that made it look darker but at least this one looked a bit more like a home that people could inhabit.

“These are our first two stops then… ”

The driver took his spot in the front and after securing his belt, he turned on the engine. The car was now moving and they were going to their first placement: the alleged place with a small kitchen they had to turn down.

Before the woman could pull out the pictures out of her bag, the actor’s voice stopped her.

“Ah, Miss Su… If you don’t mind… I’d rather not to look at them…” Taehyung mumbled in a low voice, almost as if he was ashamed of it.

“Sorry, I’m afraid I don’t understand you, dear.” She adjusted her glasses.

“Well, this is about of portraying authenticity and you’ve said that you wanted our reactions to be realistic so I thought that if I don’t see the pictures I’ll be able to look more surprised once we get to the place you chose.” He made a pause. He spoke calmly, his voice was soothing. “You have already picked it for us for a reason that makes it special and told us that’s going to be the third one; we’ve seen the others through photographs and recognized some problem to fundament why we won’t like it but… I think that it would help to the performance not to see it beforehand.”

Taehyung caught a glimpse of Jeongguk’s initial doubts.

“You can look at the photos if you want to…”

“No… it’s actually a good idea…” He shrugged.

Miss Su was, once again, radiant.

“Marvelous. I wouldn’t expect anything less from a promising actor like you.”

Her phone rang and before they could say something else, she was back at her usual chatterbox mode.

Taehyung was happy he could continue with his acting exercise, his partner, on the other hand, kept looking at the pictures of the discarded places. He seemed uneasy all of sudden… More than usual.

Soon after the younger’s eyes were nailed in the window, far away from that car and unreachable for Taehyung.

Probably, it was just his imagination anyway.

 

[10]

They stopped right in front of their first location. Of course, the production team had their eyes on a nice neighborhood. It was one of the key points of the city where most studios sent their people to shoot movies and TV shows because of their strategic secret little spots to film and the fact that it was easier to get permissions to stop the traffic since it wasn’t a particularly prone to have as many cars circulating as other places although there were always people around who could play extras when it was required and that was the charm of it.

Taehyung had been there a couple times, he remembered the stores and the streets. It was a good place to live, he had to admit. Their three options were in the same zone and they could go by feet from there.

As soon as they put a step out of the car, the cameras were all over them. In the lobby room, they met a real estate agent who would be more like a tour guide. She was a woman on her forties with a perfect straight ponytail wearing a clean line suite who smiled at them affably. One of the cameras rode with them in the elevator -luckily it was a big elevator that could hold them four while the rest of them rushed in a second elevator to be there before and have a second camera working inside.

They walked in the first apartment and whoa.

Pictures didn’t make any justice. The first thing they saw was the spacious and luminous living room with the plank light wood floor and the white squared sofas, the sophisticated designer lamp hanging from the ceiling and the cream textured painting on the walls; one big flat television and a couple plants that couldn’t be actually that green. But what was without doubts the big picture windows that led to a small balcony entirely made of black iron.

Taehyung didn’t hide his awe as he inspected the place in detail, his mouth dropped open. For a moment he forgot he had to find the defects of that place since they weren’t going to keep it. At least Miss Su had said they could mention a couple good things about it too.

He looked out for his fake partner who was quiet in a corner biting his nails.

“Jeongguk…” He intended to reach for his wrist but the singer snapped before he could do it. “What do you think?”

The younger bit his lip as his eyes traveled up and down, were they bigger than before?

“It’s… nice… really nice.” He ran his fingers through the surface of the coffee table.

“I really like the space in this room, is so warm...” Taehyung followed him around. “It is minimalistic but looks fancy.”

Taehyung wasn’t sure if Jeongguk was with him… he didn’t know if he was even there but they had to deliver what the cameras had come for.

“May I ask for you to show us the other rooms, please?” He asked the agent.

“Yes, of course, over here.”

She led the way, Taehyung walked behind her; Jeongguk’s head lifted when he heard the steps and he rushed to catch them in a couple long strides.

The woman took them to the continuous hallway, there were the bathroom and the bedroom. She showed the bathroom first and even if it had a bathtub, it was ridiculously luxurious. The white porcelain and the gold details, Taehyung’s dream house didn’t include a bath like that but they would from now on. Also, that majestic mirror with light bulbs that made incredible things with the shape of his butt… he wondered if they could let him take a selfie before they went to the second place.

Again no comment from Jeongguk.

Then she showed them the bedroom. They were supposed to be house-hunting together but of course, Jeon Jeongguk wasn’t being collaborative at all and he had to do all the work for the cameras.

What the hell was wrong with him?

It was starting to get on Taehyung’s nerves… again.

 “Baby... penny for your thoughts?” Taehyung lightly bumped against him making the boy react.

Jeongguk scratched the back of his head.

If you say «nice», I’ll cut you. The elder thought.

He cleared his throat. “I’m not entirely convinced… I mean, it is a nice place…”

Goddammit.

“But I think it might be a bit too much for us? Don’t get me wrong but we’ll move in together and I feel like I wouldn’t be able to live in here comfortably, I’d walk in tiptoes and watch out not to break anything… it would be like… like living in a doll-house but for humans. Does it make sense?”

Oh.

That was actually…

What he was thinking of before.

Taehyung blinked a couple times. “I get what you’re saying.”

“Would you like to see the kitchen before we move to the next place?” Their agent asked.

Their eyes met in the middle across the room.

Taehyung faked a smile. “Sure.”

 

On their way out, they took the elevator first, just the two of them.

The cameras had gone first along with the real estate agent because they, chivalrously, had offered her to ride first. Now probably both were regretting it.

Although Jeongguk had spoken clearly back in the bedroom, when they visited the kitchen he was being all withdrawn again and his strange attitude did nothing but concern Taehyung in the wrong way, the worst way. The elder wanted to bite his tongue and let him struggle in peace but there was something that held him back to do it.

“What’s wrong?” He finally asked when the doors were completely closed.

“Ugh… it’s nothing.” He started fidgeting his fingers just like in the car.

Taehyung had to hold the comment about it back.

“Sure thing, you look like you are about to have a mental breakdown and it’s been like that for the past hour.”

Jeongguk looked like he had shrunk while resting his back on the elevator. In fact, he kind of reminded the elder when they first met, when he was still cute and innocent.

Not that he wasn’t cute anymore.

“I’m not good at improvisation.” He finally confessed without facing at Taehyung.

The actor clicked his tongue. “You are messing with me again.”

Jeongguk shrunk even more. “I wish I was.” He truly seemed upset but Taehyung’s was only getting madder.

“You have no problem with improvisation when it comes to looking smooth in front of the cameras, try another one.”

The younger lowered the voice. “That’s different.

“Yeah? How come?”

Jeongguk blushed. “Because it’s… uhm… with… when it comes to… never mind. I can’t do it.”

“You did well before… in the bedroom.” Well, that phrase didn’t come as he had expected. “…when you mentioned you wouldn’t be comfortable living in there.” He clarified.

“It’s easy for you to say it, you’re an actor. This is what you do for a living. I don’t.”

“All I’m saying is that if you can do that part of the flirty brat so well you should be able to do this too. Why in the world did you get into the entertainment business if that wasn’t the case? We are all a bunch of fucking pretenders.”

Taehyung disliked Jeongguk very much but he never intended to hurt him somehow and at the moment he was so pissed he didn’t realize his words came out much harsher than what he anticipated.

Jeongguk gulped and limited himself to stare at the numbers changing in the elevator. There was a knot on his throat he couldn’t remove and he didn’t have the strengths to fight back. Luckily they had skipped the part of filming in the street until they went to the second house.

It wasn’t until seconds later when Taehyung noticed the personal cloud that was floating around the younger that he came into his senses and felt as the vicious villain of the story.

It wasn’t fair, even when he was angry with Jeongguk he couldn’t be entirely angry with him.

“Jeongguk… I didn’t mean to-”

The door opened and the singer walked out of the place without saying a word.

This was going to be a long, long day.

 

[11]

May, 16th

 

Message from Jimin:  Hey you punk, answer my texts.

Message from Jimin:  Are you busy watching your husband’s drama, is it more important than our friendship?

Jeongguk looked up his mobile back to his computer, some commercial was currently occupying the screen.

Maybe he was watching it.

But to be fair, Jeongguk had started watching it before he found out Taehyung was his fake husband. It was sort of unavoidable because everyone was talking about it. Now he was into much deep to let it go in the middle of the story. The singer wasn’t much of watching dramas but he had to admit this one had a hell of a plot that got him on the edge of his seat.

Taehyung was an astounding actor, he had to admit it.

At the moment in the story, his character, Seo Hyunsuk, was behind a big case, probably the greatest of his career. He had partnered up with Bae Doona’s character to take other criminals before justice -ones that were directly connected with the real boss- in order to make the empire behind collapse. It was a way to call their attention until they would come out of their hiding spot. Taehyung’s character was risking his life to close the case and homicides kept happening around him in an inexplicable way. He was about to become the next target.

And that’s when the episode ended.

Shit. He would have to wait another week.

Message to Jimin:  I just came back from the gym, I was taking a shower.

He lied.

Message from Jimin:  Are you okay? You’re going to see him tomorrow again. I just want to know your next headline won’t be something like «Rest in Peace young promise Jeon Jeongguk»

Jeongguk chortled.

Message to Jimin:  I was… sort of watching it. You’re right.

Message from Jimin:  Want me to call you?

Minutes later, his phone was ringing.

So what’s the deal? House-hunting sounds like fun, domestic fun but fun anyway.” Jimin commented after he explained their schedule.

“That’s not the problem. He’s an actor, Jimin. He’s used to doing things like this on a daily basis and he’s good at it and I’m just… well, I’ve never acted if it wasn’t for a couple skits on music shows.”

It’s not supposed to be all acted, let me remind you. So what if you’re next to James McAvoy or Jack Nicholson himself, you have to keep a little of Jeongguk there to make it real.”

He hated that phrase. «Make it real».

Yeah, it was easy to say it but how?

“That’s the problem. For him is just natural, he’s good at it and I just keep forgetting he’s doing this in the same conditions than me. We’re faking it. Who knows, he was probably forced to take the part too and he has no intention to hide how much he dislikes me.”

You’ve known the guy for less than two days, why don’t you go with an apologetic smile and press the restart button? Leave the dumbass you created behind and start clean.”

“I can’t. That’s the only way I can face it.” Jeongguk massaged his forehead. “The producers loved us like that and I feel that’s the only way I have to maintain a conversation with him.” He bit his lips, grateful Jimin couldn’t see him. “Otherwise it’s just me trying to complete a sentence without stuttering and now I’m trapped with this character…”

Jeongguk… this is a friendly reminder, you’re an idiot.”

“I know that… but that’s my way to keep it up to someone on his level. I can’t live up to him otherwise.”

He could feel Jimin rolling his eyes on the other side of the line.

Then keep playing that part, what’s the thing that’s bugging you about it?”

“If we go house-hunting we were supposed to act like a real married couple looking for their little love nest or something.”

You’re really making a big deal about this. Take it easy. You’re naturally a dork and I’m saying that in a good way. Let your real personality come out to play.

“What if he doesn’t like it?”

He can’t possibly loathe you more than he does now, can he?”

“I guess you’re right…”

 

May, 17th

Taehyung was about to kill him with his bare hands and this time was for real.

Never, in all his years of career, he hadn’t faced such unprofessionalism.

Giving him the cold shoulder?

To him???

Jeongguk pushed all his buttons down and it was showing.

Taehyung was supposed to be the one angry, he was angry. He had never been this angry in all his life. He had never been angry more than a couple minutes before coming back with the brightest smile of them all. But now he was seeing red, and not only «red», but it was also scarlet, crimson, carmine, ruby… red.

By the time they made it to the second apartment, it was undeniable that there was a bigger tension growing between them. If Jeongguk was a grey cloud before, now Taehyung was also one, charged, dense, black… about to explode and, when two heavy clouds crash… storm.

Yeeun offered the actor a cup of pink lemonade in the lobby room. “Hey, you two… are okay?” She dared to ask.

“Fine.” He replied dryly. “I couldn’t ask for anything else.” He took a long sip of his drink, not even the sweetness of the lemonade could wash the bitter taste on his mouth.

“I’ve noticed you two aren’t exactly getting along today. Miss Su or anyone else hadn’t realized yet so I wanted to talk with you first before someone scolds you without knowing the full story.”

Taehyung clicked his tongue. “He’s not helping at all… he barely said a couple words back in the first apartment and I’m getting tired of covering the silences all the time.”

“Ah, I see.” She looked towards Jeongguk’s direction. He was quietly standing in front of the elevator as the cameras were climbing into it. “I’m supposed not to tell you this but… he’s actually really shy.”

Fucking lies.

“For some reason being assertive with him made him click and he has come good delivering his lines and improvising when he’s with you… but he needs a little push from time to time.”

“Why did he sign up for this show in the first place? He knew what was coming.”

“I don’t know and frankly I don’t care. You’ve to work things out or we’re all going to be in trouble because of that. Miss Su is already too stressed because another couple just quitted and we need a replacement before this weekend, we’ve been making calls all day.” She adjusted her cap. “Look, I don’t pretend to burden you with this but you too are the peak of the season, if things don’t go well, we’ll have to start casting again, finding a new pairing, reshooting a lot of scenes…”

So her plan was guilt tripping him and it was working.

“Fine… please say no more. I’ll try, okay? If he doesn’t make it easier then he’s the one you should be talking instead.”

She let out a relieved sigh out. “Thank you.”

“Hey, quick question, would you say a sigh is breathing?”

Yeeun looked puzzled then she shrugged. “Yeah, I guess.”

Ha! I knew it!”

 

[12]

Taehyung stopped the elevator doors with both hands and introduced himself inside before pressing the button to close it.

Jeongguk wasn’t even looking at him.

He would have to swallow his pride for once in his life and he didn’t like it.

“I’m sorry, okay? I didn’t mean to say it like that.”

Jeongguk swelled his cheek with his tongue.

“I was pissed and…”

Then the younger finally spoke. “That’s not the problem, Taehyung. The problem is that you’re right. I don’t even know if I can do this.”

“No, look… I was wrong. It was a poor choice of words.”

“Maybe, but that doesn’t make it less real.”

“Would you please accept the apology so we can keep doing this? Let me remind you we’re getting pay for this and not only that, a lot of these people are counting on us. I went too far and I’m sorry, now can we please go back to normal? Whatever that is for us…”

Jeongguk pressed his lips together into a thin line.

“Alright. Apology accepted.”

Thank you.

“But I can’t do this… I can’t do it like you.”

“Because you’re not good at improvising?”

They were almost on their floor.

“I’m not an actor like you.”

“Can you quit saying that? I know you’re not but you’ve done just fine before. Don’t let the idea that’s gnawing you ruin that. If you keep saying I’m not good at this, I can’t do it you’re never going to make it. Cut the pettiness.”

Jeongguk didn’t reply, he had a lot to think about.

Taehyung took a deep breath. “I’m going to tell you a secret.”

He pressed the stop button of the elevator.

The younger’s doe eyes had doubled its size.

“It’s like constantly role-playing. Think about it as having a room full of superhero costumes and every time you need a new skin, you go in there and pick one. All of them have different special features and give you different powers so you have to wear the super suit.”

Jeongguk raised an eyebrow trying to process his words.

“Am I supposed to be a superhero that… buys houses.”

“As if they didn’t need a place to live. Do you think Batman just got the Wayne manor like that?”

Uh… his parents kind of died and he was their heir. He didn’t have to buy it…”

“Bad example, I admit it. But I’m sure more than one superhero had to go through the process of house-hunting at some point, okay?”

Jeongguk was chuckling.

Taehyung held back his smile, he had to focus.

“Now, who do you want to be?”

“What?” He asked in disbelief.

“Be whoever you want to be… let’s see… I’ll be a rich lesbian CEO who just killed her husband-”

Now the singer was laughing at loud. “There’s a problem with your character...”

“It’s acting, I can be whoever I want, that’s the whole point.”

“Okay, but I wouldn’t marry someone who just killed her husband.”

“No widows… noted it. Well then… I’ll be a playwright who just sold his first play successfully and you’re going to be my fiancé…”

“A doctor who works all day in the local hospital.”

“That’s perfect. I’ve always wanted to be involved into a medical drama. So, back to our story, we’re buying a house and we… have had some problems recently because we disagree in a lot of things, I mean we come from different backgrounds and we didn’t get much support when we announced our engagement.”

“But…”

“But… we love each other and that’s more than enough.” Taehyung felt his pulse accelerating as soon as the words escaped out of his mouth.

Jeongguk cracked again. “Ah, that’s not realistic. You can’t buy a house with love.”

“Cold blood doctor… you’re getting there.” He smiled candidly. “Do you think you’re ready now?”

“Yeah, I hope so…”

“Hey, if you feel like you’re lost… look at me, okay?”

Jeongguk nodded.

“We’re together in this.”

“Thanks, Taehyung.”

Taehyung pressed the button to resume their ride. The doors of the elevator opened shortly after. They had arrived.

 

“I don’t know… the other one had so much light and this one… it’s like a freezer.” Taehyung pretended to be shaking.

The cameras captured the fond look his partner was giving him with the biggest bunny grin on his face. The actor didn’t see him.

“At least this one looks more like a house. I like the library and the furniture built with recycled wood… and this desk is nice for you to write on it.” Jeongguk pointed.

“What the hell are they talking about?” Miss Su whispered to Yeeun.

“I have no clue but it works…” She replied.

“We could be simply the folks next door in a place like this… I like it.”

“And the kitchen is bigger too!”

“Ah, the kitchen where we’re going to cook a lot I’m guessing… ha, ha…” Taehyung was now worried.

They weren’t supposed to live in those places but it didn’t make it less real they were going to share a lot of time together from now on, more than before. It would be like truly being into a committed relationship, sharing meals, activities… a bed.

He hadn’t thought about it until then.

Now he was the nervous one.

“So what do you say?” Jeongguk asked, popping his head out of the kitchen.

“This place is almost perfect but… I wish there was more sunlight and I’m not being biased toward the other place, I’m just pointing I’m like a plant that can’t live without sunrays.”

“Of course, we need the sun for…”

“… all the cactuses we’re raising together.”

“Cactuses?” The younger tilted his head.

“Cactuses. They don’t require much attention and their flowers are as pretty as any other plant.”

“Cactuses will be.” Jeongguk shook his head so the camera wouldn’t catch that wide grin that was only meant to be for one boy.

 

Now there was only one place left on the list.

Their «forever» home.

They hadn’t seen the photos on Miss Su’s bag, no previews, they didn’t know what to anticipate and that was terrifying but also exciting. Taehyung did not regret his choice, that was the exact feeling he wanted to be tickling him with anticipation as they walked into the place.

This wasn’t an apartment or a loft or a duplex, this was a house which was already difficult to find anywhere in Seoul considering the spaces and the comforts that the life in the city required. He didn’t want to be cliché but as soon as they crossed the door, he was already in love with that place.

Unlike the first place, the floor was a bit darker and the furniture was in a hue of greys and blue colors, there were several lamps that make it lighter and there were windows with curtains where the sunlight could filtrate through; he loved the big sofa with a seat that looked more like a bed to rest their feet and the libraries with the books stacked messily in every combination and order, he liked that some tables had wheels even if it was just for design and that there was so much space in the dinning to bring friends over but also that there was an isle where they could eat just the two of them sharing more intimacy.

He liked that the place wasn’t entirely covered in rugs and carpet, that he could see the ceramic tiles in the kitchen and that an empty fridge was full of possibilities –of junk food mostly- and that the stove for once didn’t look like a robot.

He enjoyed climbing the stairs to find the bedroom that had white planks and white walls but it was a blank canvas. There were a couple of things, closets, shelves, and two or three low chairs. The king-size bed was in the middle with a bunch of pillows on top of it, several mirrors in all shapes located in different places but the best one, the best one was hanging right above the mattress.

Taehyung let his body sunk into the plushy pillows and the soft blankets and took a look at it. Shortly after, the younger joined him.

“I’m not going to lie, I would be scared to death if that thing fell off in the middle of the night.” He commented.

Taehyung giggled. “It’s not going to fall… silly. Or at least I hope so.”

They were reflected in that mirror, their smiles because they knew they had found the right place and even with a crew full of people filming, it was like they were the only ones in there. He surely loved acting but for a moment, if he closed his eyes and then opened them again, he could pretend just for a second, just for an insignificant instant, it was real.

And mostly he loved that he could project life in there.

“I think this place is heavenly.” Taehyung filled his lungs with air, savoring the experience fully.

Darling, I don’t know how to tell you this, but… there’s a Korean filming crew in our bedroom.” Jeongguk murmured into his ear.

Way to crack the fourth wall.

 “One more thing I’d like to show you.” The agent mentioned.

They reluctantly stood up and followed her.

She was right, it was worth the interruption.

They had a garden.

A green garden in a city like Seoul was maybe most luxurious than one of those tubs with gold details.

There was a barbecue area entirely made of dark wood with dozens of lightbulbs hanging in different levels, there was a path made of grey rounded rocks, pebbles and pavers to follow. There was a growing tree in one of the corners that in a couple years would provide the perfect shadow and a few bushes arranged into aspheric shapes.

“Whoa… we can be the new Hyori's Bed & Breakfast with this…” Taehyung mentioned.

Jeongguk agreed. “So… does this mean…?”

“I think we found our house.” He said looking at him and smiling. “We’re really moving together.”

He said it aloud, once for them and once for him.

Now it was a reality.

Holy shit, they were moving in together.

 

Chapter Text

«A house doesn't make a home, unless…»

[13]

May, 23rd

“…then he did this thing, that annoying thing he does with his fingers and he has the audacity to call me out for breathing… Breathing! Can you believe it?” Taehyung exhaled, proving a point.

Yet, it has been thirty minutes and he hadn’t shut up about Jeon Jeongguk.

Yoongi stretched his legs under the table and then his arms behind his head. He took a sip of his iced Americano and wondered how long it would take for him to realize that even when he despised the singer so badly, he couldn’t keep him out of his mouth.

Taehyung and Yoongi’s friendship had first flourished two years ago during a music award ceremony in which Yoongi won the award of the producer of the year and Taehyung was in charge of announcing the winners along with the actress Han Hyojoo. After he won, they both met again heading to the snack table, Yoongi had taken a few pictures backstage and his throat was extremely dried and Taehyung just wanted a fortune cookie, sue him.

Whatever was the case, both were reunited once again in a table full of food and while Yoongi desperately drank a water bottle in one sit, Taehyung had no better idea that making a comment about one of his most popular singles that was «That song of yours that’s about sucking dick is lit.» which made Yoongi consequentially choke and cough to death.

Almost.

There was an actor next to him that kept hitting on his back until he got on his knees gasping for air, finally recovering shortly after. Taehyung was still concerned so he basically stuck with him the rest of the evening and because of the younger’s talkative nature, they found out both of them were from the same place and Taehyung won’t shut up about Yoongi’s music; Yoongi accepted giving him his number and buying a meal sometime after the ceremony was over.

They had been friends since then and if Yoongi knew Taehyung that well, he could easily tell there was no way the actor could scheme some sort of evil vendetta since he was too nice for his own good. Now, the other guy, Jeon Jeongguk would have to stay on his line if he for a moment thought he could hurt him in some way.

Now they were sitting in a table in the healthy diner of the mall, waiting for an avocado toast and a grill chicken sandwich. Yoongi adjusted the mask under his chin and hoped that the black cap would disguise his newly blonde hair, some people were looking at them because Taehyung had always been effusive like that when it comes to tell stories, luckily after a few glances the curious eyes turned away and Yoongi unconsciously started breathing again.

“…but the weirdest thing happened and he ended up being funny? In a good «I’m not trying to humiliate you this time» way? I don’t know… ugh… this is so frustrating.”

The elder realized it was his cue to speak. “Are you sure it was about the house-hunting?”

“What do you mean?” Taehyung frowned.

“What I’m saying is that… yeah, he was upset about something and he blamed it on picking houses or improvising or whatever but don’t you think there must be a real reason why he was dismayed? You’ve said it yourself, that’s not his classic behavior.”

“Yes but… I mean… I don’t know him that well… besides he wouldn’t tell me anyway.”

“Why don’t you try speaking with him instead of jumping into misled conclusions?”

“Because he’s an idiot… and… I don’t want to. Hyung, you weren’t supposed to make me feel bad…”

“Then go with Seokjin.”

“I can’t, he’s busy filming a commercial in Dubai and next week he has to deal with the whole comment section of the show.” Taehyung sighed. “Plus I had a terrible week, the drama’s editing team had a major problem with the recorded episodes and I’ll have to reshoot some scenes next week meaning I’m on delay…”

“When are you seeing the kid again?”

“Tomorrow.  We’re officially moving into the house and I’m supposed to pack some of my own stuff to make it look like I actually want to live in there.”

Yoongi takes another long sip of his coffee. “What are you taking?”

“I don’t know… a knife?”

“No.”

“A teaser gun?”

“Try again.”

“A bazooka?”

“Yeah, I’ll pretend you’re saying this because you’re way into character but that’s definitely a no.”

“Well then… I should probably make a list.”

“You probably should.”

 

May, 24th

[Virtual Marriage day 3]

“One minute please!” Taehyung shouted from across the room when he heard the knocks on his door.

He had been trying to decide all morning what he’s taking to their «home» that he had lost track of time. Yes, the place was a bit messy but they had asked them to actually bring their own things to the house so he had to take into account what would he possibly need while being in there. That included a few spare clothes since there were days where they recorded the footage for two different episodes and it had to look like it has been more than just a few hours -something that would give the audience the sentiment that they were bonding over time- and knowing Taehyung, it would take more than a couple minutes to pick a few fashionable outfits for upcoming situations.

And that’s the story of how his productive morning became a «Say yes to the outfit» section, he should’ve saved something for the cameras though.

“Coming!” He ran through the sofa climbing the cushions, took a short way almost bumping with the edge of a sharp table –painful- and finally got to the door in one piece… almost.

He recovered his breath and ran his fingers through his hair a couple times before making sure he looked ready –as if he had been waiting patiently for them to show up.

Hello.” He greeted the filming crew with a melodic smile slightly opening the door.

Just to bump into Jeon Jeongguk.

Of course.

“Oh, it’s you.” He said unable to hide his hostility.

Why he did that? Why he always had to look effortlessly good? He was just standing there wearing a black hoodie, denim pants, snickers, his coconut hair and those obnoxiously adorable round glasses that magnified the infinite starry galaxy that were his eyes.

Taehyung’s heart skipped a beat.

Jeongguk cleared his throat. The camera behind him was flashing a red light that indicated everything was being recorded.

Right.

Taehyung eyes widened. “I mean… oh! It’s you!

That funny honey of mine.

Surprise!” He announced with his mouth while his eyes were screaming for help.

“Welcome to my humble adobe, visitors.”

“I was picked up earlier and we thought it was a good idea to come and ugh… offer a helping hand.”

“That’s very considerate… Please, come in.”

He took off his shoes and left them aside before stepping in.

Taehyung’s apartment was the most chaotic it had always been and Jeongguk just had to show up and bring his stupid will to help –if it was actually his idea- and his goddamned Boy Scout enthusiasm.

Jeongguk kept looking around, intrigued.

Taehyung felt like he was naked. His apartment was where he got to spend most of his time –especially when he was not filming- and now not only a full set of five people with cameras and microphones were around, Jeongguk himself was sitting on his sofa, the very same he was laying on while stalking –sorry, researching- about a week ago. The producers were behind them preparing to assure that everything was going as planned.

He didn’t have a script for this part, it was about collecting their reactions and it seemed that since his last conversation with the singer, he was doing much better. Although, he couldn’t shake Yoongi’s words off his head about something else being out of place.

“So…” Jeongguk tapped his knees nervously while the elder kept moving around the room. He really looked like a lost puppy sitting in there by himself.

“I had a list made but I lost it.” Taehyung said. “And now I’m freaking out so where do I begin?”

“You’re really asking me? I packed a box full of snacks… only snacks.”

“I have the feeling that if you ever get wounded, instead of bleeding there would be snacks crumbs coming out of it.” Taehyung mentioned while gathering some of his boxes in the living room.

Jeongguk cackled. “That’s ridiculous and gross.”

“But it’s not less true.”

“Then… maybe you should start with the clothes you’re bringing?”

Oh boy, you don’t have an idea.

Taehyung was a proud owner of a two bedroom apartment with a living room, one bathroom, a laundry, and a kitchen dining room. The walls of his bedroom were painted in a soft lavender and he had some prints of famous paintings all over it, a couple of those geometric mirrors that didn’t actually refracted a good image, it was more about the aesthetic. The bed was –thank goodness- made and it was filled with his fifteen pillows in all kind of sizes and shapes.

“Who in the world needs this many pillows?” Was Jeongguk’s first comment when he walked in after Tae turned on the lights.

“I do. I like pillows.”

“You’re not taking all of them… are you?”

“Of course no. These are the ones that didn’t make the cut.”

Jeongguk laughed nervously.

“I’m just joking.”

It was only six pillows anyway.

“Wait, how many boxes are you taking to the house?” He said looking around at the piles of everything and the four boxes that were almost full.

“Actually… those are just… clothes.” Taehyung scratched the back of his head, unable to look at the younger.

“Ah… I see. We have a long way ahead…”

Well, at least Marie Kondo wasn’t going to see that.

 

[14]

Two hours later, they had successfully selected, divided into boxes and put them on the little rented truck they’d got for the move. Jeongguk’s things –a lot less than Taehyung’s- were already collecting dust in there. Now, most of the filming crew was in their van and they had a camera in the truck seat they were sharing with the driver.

“Wait, what’s that you’re bringing with you?” Taehyung asked by the time they had the last box with them.

“Nothing…”

“Did you just steal my UK flag puff chair?”

“No… I didn’t steal it… I’m bringing it to the new house…”

“What for?”

Jeongguk had his eyes nailed on the floor while he pretended to kick some dust.

It’s comfy…”

“What was that?”

“It’s comfy...” He hugged it tightly against his chest.

Why did he look like he had just shrunk?

“Fine, you can take it. Now let’s go, they told me they hired the truck until noon.”

The younger chuckled and put the puff chair in the front seat.

Taehyung just rolled his eyes and shut the door.

The camera that was with them dashed to the van and once they got the okay signal, both vehicles were heading to their destiny a.k.a. home sweet new home.

 

Once they arrived they had to do twice as funny the reverse process of unpacking everything they had brought. Some members of the crew helped them with the boxes so they could empty the truck sooner. Shortly after, the boxes were flooding the entrance of the house.

Before resuming the recording, Yeeun appeared on the frame of the door, neither of them had seen her earlier that day because usually members of the team rotated with the other two couples of the season and they also had lives outside the show. However, Taehyung had to admit he was always calmer whenever the girl was around; it was good to have someone who would actually listen to their problems and come with solutions.

“Hey guys, how are you doing?” She asked as she offered them two bottles of water.

“Hello, noona.” Jeongguk said. “They have us working since early.”

“Hi,” Taehyung greeted. “I won’t lie; I’m a bit tired already. What do we have to do next?”

“There are a couple more activities today for what I’d recommend you to charge the batteries.” The actor sulked before taking a sip of his water and listen attentively. “I’ve come to let you know the rules of the house before we start shooting. As you know, this place is rented and paid by the show which means everything that gets broken, damaged, dirtied is our responsibility. We’re going to be shooting a lot so it will be better to get used to take care of the location.”

Both of them nodded as she kept explaining, she suddenly pulled out two paper pieces with a series of numbers written on them.

“It’s the door’s code. You get them because, as your managers already know, somedays you can arrive before us to get ready since both of you live in different places. I trust you’ll be the perfect owners and you’ll keep behaving as well as you’ve been otherwise I wouldn’t be giving this to you directly.”

“Yes, of course.” Taehyung said.

“There’s nothing to worry.” Jeongguk assured.

“Perfect, now… today’s focused on all the moving in process. Unpacking, decorating a little, rearranging the space; you have that creative freedom. You’ll have lunch…”

“We’re having jajangmyeon, right?” Jeongguk asked with excitement on his voice. “it’s a tradition…”

“Yes, you can order jajangmyeon.” She told the boy.

Sweet.” He said with a big bunny smile on his face.

Taehyung had to bite his tongue to repress a smile himself. “Then what?”

“You’ll have a little trip to the supermarket today and then we’ll shoot some more scenes in the house.”

“Alright.” Taehyung nodded. “I guess that’s pretty easy.”

“Great, we’ll start in five. I’ll catch you later.”

“Thank you.” They both said and the woman left them there, in the middle of a bunch of boxes.

Taehyung peeped over his shoulder.

“You make fun of my many boxes but what did you bring? Besides a box full of snacks only.”

“I don’t know the normal stuff?” He shrugged. He began numbering with his fingers. “A few clothes, toothbrush, one pillow…”

The actor rolled his eyes.

“I bet you must have at least one embarrassing thing among your stuff and I’m going to find it.”

Jeongguk clicked his tongue. “Yeah, good luck with that.”

“Boys, we’re starting in ten…”

 

May, 22nd

“… and I told them that’s some bullshit because obviously that guy wasn’t even being serious for a moment.” Jimin sighed when he noticed he had been walking and talking by himself for the past two minutes.

He turned around just to find out his presumed friend had abruptly stopped in one stall of the flea market in the park. Great, they were supposed to go for a drink and return right away. Hoseok was going to beat their asses if they weren’t there in five seconds.

“Jeongguk… what are you doing? Well, aside from ignoring me.”

The younger had his eyes fixed on one stall with several plants lined up, they had from flowers like daisies, pansies, gardenias to smaller pots with succulents and even some hung ferns but Jeongguk attention was caught by one tiny section that had cactuses in all different sizes and shapes.

“Hello? Earth to Jeongguk…”

Something like “The what?” was all the gibberish that Jimin got in return.

“Hoseok is going to kill us… you especially if we don’t show in the following ten seconds.”

“Give me just a second.”

“You have five left as we speak.”

“Can I help you, young man?” The woman in the stall asked.

“I’ll take a few of these…” He picked three colorful pots with all blossoming cactuses.

“I didn’t take you for a gardening man.” Jimin crossed his arms on his chest.

“Well… it’s not for me… exactly… these are for the house.”

“Oh! You mean your love nest.”

“Don’t call it like that, it’s bad enough that I have to share it with you-know-who.”

“We’re not saying his name? Since when?”

Since Jeongguk can’t pronounce it without blushing a little.

“I don’t want to call for trouble. Now give me your wallet.”

“No way, you pay your own courtship.”

“It’s not a courtship thing and I’ll pay you back in the building.”

As if.”

“Okay, I’ll tell you the truth… he helped me with the scenes last time and I thought it would be a nice gesture to bring something like a white flag because we have a lot ahead.”

“Let’s say I believe you for a second…” The younger rolled his eyes. “You’re actually thinking about a truce? Last week you intended to buy a grappling hook online.”

“I’m a new man.”

“It was literally days ago.”

“Jimin I’m trying to be a bigger person in here; give me the money.”

“Fine, but you’re explaining it to Hoseok.”

“Deal.”

Jimin reluctantly pulled out a couple bills and the woman in the stall gave him a plastic back with his newly acquired plants. Jeongguk had a stupidly giant grin on his face as they headed back to the building –considering he was about to go through something as soon as Hoseok found out that they were back- it was very optimistic of him. Jimin just raised an eyebrow and observed.

“By the way, how are you waving your white flag? Are you just going to the house and be like so let’s not fight anymore, here’s a cactus and in case you doubt it I brought two more.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. You have said it, we’re both adults, it shouldn’t be difficult.”

 

May, 24th

[Virtual Marriage day 3]

Sixteen minutes ago

“Noona please can you pretend you bought these and leave them somewhere in the house? Please…” He said offering a plastic bag with three little cactuses.

Yeeun blinked a couple times. They were just unloading the truck. Taehyung had gone ahead with a couple of his boxes and she stayed behind to control everything outside.

“Why wouldn’t you just…?”

“I’m panicking. I don’t think I can do it… I made fun of his pillows on our way here… again. It’s like there’s something my brain can’t control and every time I try to be nice I get so scared I might ruin it and I rather have him yelling and getting back at me than nothing at all.” He burst out of blue. “Am I making any sense at all?”

The producer remained calm. “Okay… don’t worry. I’ll put them somewhere.”

“Thank you… thank you… thank you… I could kiss your shoes.”

“Yeah, please don’t do it.”

“Sorry.”

 

Now

They didn’t even need words to despise each other when they had stares.

For instance, that deadly glare that could set things on fire meant that Taehyung was saying we are not hanging an Iron Man poster above the bed frame.

Puppy eyes: please…

Rolled eyes: fine, you can keep it but it stays in some hallway away from the cameras.

Cute eyes going into crescents: I’ll take it.

And Jeongguk widening his eyes and raising both eyebrows meant that’s actually all the space I get from the closet?

Flutter lashes: perhaps…

Nervous eyes looking away: I don’t have that many clothes anyway.

In that way, they started their cohabitation.

Adjusting, changing, tidying, and redecorating.

“No, move it again. I liked it more to the left.” Taehyung sipped some Sprite.

Jeongguk put down the sofa, it wasn’t a light piece of furniture and this was the second time Taehyung made him move it around the room trying to find the best place where -according to the Feng Shui book he had lied about reading it- it would bring the best vibes to their new home. In reality, he just enjoyed making the younger roam through the living room like an ant with bread crumbs ten times its side inside an anthill.

Now, after the third time, Jeongguk had just realized he was teasing him.

So measures had to be taken.

“Move it again.” Taehyung whined.

“Alright… just give me a second.” The singer said before removing his hoodie to reveal –shocking surprise- a plain white t-shirt that didn’t have anything special.

Except for the fact that he knew that shirt was an old one that had shrunk on the washing machine some time ago and he had assumed no one would see because it was under his hoodie like a dirty bra. It also happened that one, at least it was clean and two, his motives were not.

Jeongguk did what Taehyung asked and moved the sofa again but this time he made sure every possible arm muscle would flex as he carried it again. Taehyung, in the middle of a gay panic moment, almost choked on his soft drink as he laid his eyes on the contour of his turgid bicep.

The actor kept coughing which made Jeongguk smirk before turning around.

“Everything alright?” He asked as if he was the clueless person in the room.

“I think that’s the perfect spot… for the sofa.”

“Are you sure? I can move it a little more, maybe to the left or to the right. You tell me, what does Feng Shui say?” Jeongguk stretched his arms above his head, his t-shirt struggled to remain tugged inside his jeans.

Thanks for your service, jeans’ waistband. It was not in vain.

“She says that’s alright, now leave it there.” Taehyung quickly replied.

Jeongguk faked a yawn and stretched his arms even more. Then he smirked. “Any other furniture you want me to move?”

Taehyung’s hand was tightly gripping the Sprite bottle and it was just a reflection of his inner reactions. Fuck Sprite, the thirst was real.

It took about a minute for the elder to recompose and in the meantime, he realized what Jeongguk was doing. Another rule of the game: never let the guard down when the enemy is just across the room.

Taehyung shook his head. “We should go back to the bedroom.”

Jeongguk got stiff. “Pardon?” The fuckboy façade was gone.

“To hang the rest of the frames…” The elder smiled maliciously.

“Oh, right… right.

 

By the time they finished arranging the house, Taehyung had to admit it, it looked even better than when they first saw it. If it wasn’t for the cameras following them around and others installed in the rooms and the unwanted another half of the deal that could be a house he would love to live in.

Both of them were exhausted. Jeongguk was sitting on the sofa with his legs resting on top of the bunk and Taehyung lying horizontally while they were separated by centimeters. None of them even had energies to argue anymore. Taehyung pushed the younger’s shoulder with his feet inside the striped socks. This would lead to the following one-word-conversation.

“What?”

“Hungry.”

“Ah.”

“You?”

“Yeah.”

“Food.”

“Phone.”

“Dial.”

“You.”

Taehyung growled but he stood up and went for his phone.

It was true that Jeongguk had gone through the most physical part of the work while Taehyung was the vision, so it was fair if he was the one ordering the food, he could let him have that. He found the closest food delivery and placed an order for the two of them. The production team and the other members of the staff were having their own lunch apart.

While they were waiting for their food to arrive, the cameras were off to check the footage they got so far. It was a good moment for a break. Taehyung could use some moments to relax and it seemed that Jeongguk had had the same idea since neither of them moved from the sofa.

“Hey,” Taehyung used his foot again to reach the younger who just puffed in response. “What do we have to do later?”

“Didn’t you hear earlier?”

“If I remembered it I wouldn’t be asking you.” He pushed a little more.

“Ask noona.”

“She’s busy, c’mon… tell me.”

“Grocery shopping.”

“So we can get the baby his banana milk?”

Jeongguk caught Taehyung’s foot in the air. “How did you know about that?”

“Asking around.”

“You were asking about me?”

“I needed to know what I’m dealing with.”

“And?” He hadn’t let go of his grip yet.

“What?”

“What did you find?”

“What I already knew, that you’re annoying.”

“That’s it?” He asked staring directly at him. “You didn’t find anything else…?”

Taehyung frowned. “Yeah, that’s it. Why? Is there something I should know?”

Jeongguk gulped and wetted his lips but before words could come out of his mouth, the doorbell rang.

“Ah, our food is here…” The younger stood up and headed to the door leaving a confused Taehyung behind.

 

[15]

“Do you want to eat outside? I think it’s cool enough now that’s a bit of wind blowing.” Jeongguk asked.

“Sure. We don’t have any plates, do we?” Taehyung pointed after grabbing his dish from the bag.

“We have the ones that came with the food.”

“It means we’ll have to buy plates when we go to the store.”

They sat on the wood planks in the barbecue area with their noodles with black bean sauce and a pair of chopsticks. There was a soft breeze that rocked the trees and the bushes, blowing dandelions and little leaves that detached from the branches; birds were singing as many songs as people on Earth there were and if they listened carefully they could distinguish every single one of them. Yes, it was a hot spring noon but a bit warm was needed to make flowers bloom.

The cameras were settled again.

“I haven’t had jajangmyeon in ages…” Jeongguk was drooling.

“Me neither. I have a messed up eating schedule and often skip meals because I’m too lazy to cook and I’m a bad cook.” The elder admitted.

“You shouldn’t do that…”

“Ah, I know… It happens usually when I’m filming and I have a big scene coming. I guess I get anxious and I can’t take a decent bite.”

“Well, as long as you’re with me you have to promise you won’t do that anymore or I’ll send you a huge box of snacks every day.”

Taehyung beamed and looked directly at his plate to avoid a pair of doe eyes. “Honestly, a diet based on snacks entirely doesn’t sound that healthy either.”

“What are you suggesting then?”

“We both are in this business thus we know how’s like to have a crazy schedule. Let’s just say we’ll make an effort to avoid neglecting important things like health. Deal?”

“Yeah, alright. Now let’s eat, I’m starving after that furniture carrying.” He smirked.

“Of course you are.”

 

May, 31th

“Can you believe those two?” Jimin asked while looking at the frozen screen that showed the house hunting segment. “They are so clueless.”

“They are turning my hair white already and it’s been less than a month.” Seokjin replied wishing he had a glass of wine or something to go through it.

“What are we going to do about that? Shall we tell them something?”

“Let’s put all the cards on the table. Tomorrow they are shooting again and it will be the first time they see each other since the sharing bed incident.”

Jimin giggled. “And I thought they were finally meeting halfway.”

 

May, 24th

“Hurry up, just pick one. It’s just a cereal brand.”

Taehyung glared at him. “Uh? No, it’s not? We spent fifteen minutes in the junk food section for you to get the honey chips you wanted and I can’t take one minute to decide which cereal is better?”

“You’re going to pick up the Froot Loops anyway. Totally predictable.”

Taehyung clicked his tongue. “No… Maybe I’d go for the Trix or the Lucky Charms…”

“You’re picking the Froot Loops.”

“Can you shut up? I’m trying to make a decision in here.”

The cameras kept recording, luckily there was just one behind them. They had received a red envelope with a mission: Successfully buying groceries together for the first time. It was a simple mission.

  • Write a list of things they needed in the house. That included food, cleaning supplies, gardening articles, cookware, etc. Summarizing, things two people would need to meet their basic needs.
  • Go to the supermarket and get those things.

That was it. That was everything they needed to do.

Except… there was one extra thing…

“Ha, I knew it.”

“Congratulations you discovered my cereal favorite brand, do you want a medal?”

Jeongguk rolled his eyes.

“Now let’s go to the left. We still have to buy detergent and fabric softener.”

Taehyung pulled the younger to the left. He followed him while shuffling.

It had been like that for the past half hour they’ve been in the store. Pulling one and other from aisle to aisle. They had only two things to do and a little trip to the supermarket didn’t seem like a big challenge so the producers thought it was better to do something a little more… entertaining. And there, the most logic and yet romantic thing they could think of was nothing less than a non-subtle reference to the red thread of fate.

You see, according to this belief, two people are connected by one red thread which means that they are fated, destined to be together as lovers, no matter the time, the place or circumstances they face. Destiny being one big spectrum of which no one can escape, the thread is flexible, it can be stretched or tangled but it will never break. That sounds like promises from star crossed lovers and Hollywood movies… but have you ever imagined what would be like to actually see it in reality?

It didn’t look that romantic from their perspective if you asked them.

The thread was supposed to be invisible but the showrunners had the brilliant idea of making a reality by tangle them with a red thread. Taehyung’s left wrist and Jeongguk’s right, tied up –Taehyung could hear Seokjin inside his head joking about how they had finally tied the knot and remember that was going to be transmitted in national television- now, doing groceries was easy but being unable to move from your significant other’s side to do them, now we’re talking about devotion…

Also, they were in a budget.

…and a time limit.

“Jeongguk, corner right.

“In a minute, now we need to get the Downy softener.”

“What’s so special about it?”

“Nothing… it smells good… I like that.”

“Fine, get it.”

They kept buying the items written on the list and if you were wondering how a couple of crack heads like them managed to write a semi-decent grocery shop list, I’ll give you the answer: they googled it. However, they had to stick to the challenge of buying most of them adjusting to the quantity of cash they had and the reduced time of one hour forty-five minutes.

They were so focused on their task; they didn’t even notice the sound of a cellphone camera snapping from across the aisle.

 

May, 24th

[ENG] 190524 Translation of the quoted tweet.

«I CAN’T BELIEVE IT I’M SHAKING.+

+YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHO I SAW TODAY AT THE SUPERMARKET.+

+IDOL JEON JEONGGUK AND ACTOR KIM TAEHYUNG TOGETHER BUYING GROCERIES.+

+You don’t believe me? Well, good thing I have evidence… »

*T/N: This was the original source of the pictures that had gone viral in the past few hours before it got deleted. Neither of their agencies have made a statement but according to the testimony of another witness, there were cameras around and it all seems to point it was part of the recording for a variety show segment. Speculations also are that this might be for the show «We Got Married» and that would explain why Jeongguk has been seen out more often. We expect to get some news in the following hours.

Trans cr; Lia @ jjkdaily

© TAKE OUT WITH FULL CREDITS

 

Chapter Text

«You don’t choose who steals your pillow»

[16]

May, 29th

“Which camera?” He asked as he straightened his shoulders and adjusted a missing lock behind his ear.

“Camera two.”

Taehyung stared directly at the camera and the man behind gave him a thumbs up before starting. He looked for Yeeun like a little lost pup, very unlike him. He had been balancing his feet on the chair, drumming his fingers on the seat, scratching the back of his neck and drinking a lot of water when he hadn’t even said a word on camera.

“So… how’s this is going to be?”

The girl lifted her head from the clipboard. “It will be the basic questionnaire we use for everyone. This is going to be edited with the first couple episodes so we’ll have some specific questions in order to connect them with the scenes we’ve been shooting. Once it’s all recorded it will be edited and it will be alternated between scenes and both of your answers.”

“Right… I get it. It’s just…” He cleared his throat and took a deep breath.

“Are you alright? You look a bit pale and your water bottle is almost empty.”

“Yeah… I need a minute, I’ll be ready.” He forced a smile and took another sip of water. “I didn’t sleep well last night, that’s all.” At least that wasn’t a lie.

She gestured toward their usual coffee boy. “Get him another water bottle before we begin.” Then she looked back at the actor who was sitting in the chair making it look much like an interrogation rather than a simple questionnaire. “I know it’s been a couple of stressful days for you two… Jeongguk was shooting earlier and I can tell both of you look haggard and in need of a good rest.”

“Resting is a luxury showbiz people can’t afford.”

“That’s true… sadly. But we’ll be here supporting you and if we can make things easier for you that will make all of our jobs easier as well. Don’t let Miss Su with all her «you’re not my troublesome couple» get inside your head, if there’s any problem, even the tiniest, you can tell me. Alright?”

Taehyung nodded.

He felt like he was ready to face this.

As soon as the cameras were on, he got back into character.

 

May, 24th

[Virtual Marriage day 3]

“Did you get the chicken?” The younger asked.

Taehyung looked disgustedly at the raw meat on his hands. “Yeah… by the way, do you know how to cook this? Because I don’t…”

“It was on the list we got online… we’ll just google some recipe. And no, we can’t live out of Burger King on a daily basis.”

Taehyung pouted. “If you check at the nutritional data you’ll find out that you receive all the essential nutrients you need in a meal.”

The younger frowned. “Where did you get that from?”

“I have a degree.”

Jeongguk narrowed his gaze. “You don’t.”

“I don’t’. But I could get one and let me assure you if further investigations were done you could create a balanced diet based on a restaurant menu.”

“That’s a fast food franchise, not a restaurant.”

“A very well established food franchise that’s been serving food for decades.”

“Are you getting paid to say that?”

“If we get a publicity deal eating hamburgers and moving our heads happily in front of a camera it will be all on me. You’ll owe me.”

“Yeah, well, until that happens… would you mind turning to the left? We still need the shampoo and the soap.” Jeongguk tilted to the left emphasizing the direction where they had to go next.

Their wrists were still tied up by a red thread and they were still running from aisle to aisle trying to find the essentials. They had left some items behind and negotiations had been made in order to adjust to the budget they were on.

“Let me guess… jojoba oil scented?”

“Maybe.” Jeongguk hugged the shampoo bottle against his chest like his dearest child. “If you don’t like it you can bring another brand.”

“It’s not that I don’t like it.” He couldn’t care less. “It’s that that shampoo brand costs thrice the other brands and it’s way out of the budget.”

“What else do we need? We can live without this… ugh…” Jeongguk picked an item of their cart randomly but it turned out to be the toilet paper.

“Okay… I don’t know about you but I am pretty sure I can’t.”

“Then we’re dropping the jam is too expensive.”

“Over my dead body, that’s strawberry jam.”

I said negotiations, I never said «adult» negotiations.

“What about-”

“Nope.”

“We could-”

“Don’t even try it.”

“And maybe…”

“I don’t think so.”

“Taehyung.”

“What?”

“Can you please grant something? We have five minutes left and we haven’t got the toothpaste or the soap yet…”

“Okay, I’m making it easier for you. Pick another shampoo or drop the banana milk.”

“You wouldn’t.”

Taehyung held the cart with his hands. “I’m not going to leave anything of my side of the list.”

“That’s unfair. Most of the stuff is your choice anyway.”

“Excuse me for picking things that are actually irreplaceable like bread and ramen noodles.” The elder sighed. “Isn’t any other brand that has a nice scent? Can’t you sniff them?”

“I won’t sniff shampoo bottles on national TV.”

Ah, right. The cameraman was still there.

Poor guy.

“Cut being a baby and sniff the shampoo bottle for Christ’s sake.”

Jeongguk crossed his arms on his chest making Taehyung’s hand warped in the red thread remained hanging in the air in consequence. The actor thought two could play that game and tried to cross his arms himself only to realize it was physically impossible for both of them to maintain said position.

“Alright then…” the elder sighed of exasperation and before Jeongguk could say something he maintained the index finger of his free hand in the air. “Don’t.”

Then, he grabbed a bottle of shampoo and lifted the cap. It was roses and sandal or something like that.

“This isn’t bad.” He offered the bottle to the younger who hesitated for a moment and then approached slowly.

Jeongguk shook his head. “It’s too strong.”

“Okay, next one…” He picked another bottle without seeing more than the bright colors of the package. “This is lavender.”

Jeongguk pulled a face without smelling it. “Too invasive. You can smell it kilometers away.”

He wasn’t wrong.

“I have a question, do you randomly smell people’s hair when you meet them or…?”

“No. Haven’t you smelled the lavender scent? You’d get tired instantly after seconds I can guarantee, at least the ones that are pure lavender.”

Well, it was definitely like Hyejeong’s office.

Taehyung left the bottle back in the shelf. This time he carefully chose one bottle with some pink flowers.

“Try this one.”

Jeongguk got closer and his eyes widened right away.

“Okay, this isn’t… bad?”

Kudos.

“And it’s half the price of that fancy jojoba oil brand.”

“I wouldn’t get to compare what the jojoba oil does to your hair because it’s not only about the smell-”

“Yeah, yeah, in this essay you will… we get it. You’ll survive without throwing a tantrum.”

“You threatened with sitting down on the floor and not moving two aisles ago if we didn’t get these silk pajamas.”

“You don’t understand what a lifestyle is.”

Plus, one of their missions was getting a matching item and guess what? Line characters matching pajamas. You’re welcome, Jeon Jeongguk.

“Guys you have two minutes left.” Yeeun announced.

Ah, nothing like time pressure to get things done.

Their eyes met in disbelief.

“Now what?”

“Run.”

 

[17]

May, 29th

[In the order it was recorded]

Q: What are you looking in a partner?

A: Jeongguk thought about it and then he looked at the camera. “Passion.” He felt flustered. “I mean, I have it even in my life motto but being passionate about something… it’s mind-blowing. It makes you radiate all this energy that can’t be ignored and that’s something amazing to watch from the outsider point of view. I’d like to marry someone who’s passionate for what they do and if they don’t have any passion I’d like to help them to discover it. Also, someone who’s smart and kind-hearted…someone that I can call my best friend too.”

A: “I used to say I looked for someone who would take care of the finances.” Taehyung giggled. “But nowadays I think I’m focusing more on finding someone who walks at my pace. I like trying new things, I like experimenting and learning a bit every day so if I get to share that with a significant other, that would make it even more meaningful. I believe in experiences, in sensations that are gratifying… but that doesn’t mean I don’t like having fun… if I can binge watch a drama or visit a manga café with that person that would also be nice. I think that, when you like someone, it doesn’t matter what you do together as long as you do it together and I know that sounds a bit corny but if I can be with someone and have enough fun to lose track of time… that’s what’s really worthy… and must love dogs. That’s not up to discussion.”

Q: Do you think you’re ready to get married?

A:  Jeongguk gulped. “Please, next question.”

A: “Isn’t that a tricky question?” Taehyung shook his head. “I… will try… my best…”

Q: What was the first impression of your partner?

A: “Breathtaking. Maybe it was the costume…” Some laughs in the studio. “But Taehyung has one of those presences that make you feel whole… I couldn’t describe it… maybe it’s like when you walk into a room and you forgot what you were going to do, well, he’s like the feeling of suddenly remembering it.”

A: Taehyung wetted his lips. He looked back to that day and considered he had to be honest about it. “He seemed to be really shy… and cute, he looked really cute…”

 

May, 24th

“That’s cute.” Taehyung pointed at the plants that were displayed in the living room while passing by. He hadn’t noticed before but the production team had been meticulous enough to pick a couple of cactuses as a little welcome gift for their house. “They remembered it.”

He smiled widely and Jeongguk felt his heart skipping a few beats. He cleared his throat and nodded. “Cute… indeed… yeah.”

“Is that the last box? Good call taking boxes instead of plastic bags to the supermarket.” Taehyung left his own box on top of the counter and looked back at Jeongguk. They had two cameras installed somewhere in the kitchen and a different cameraman following them around.

The younger shrugged. “I got used to and yeah, this is the last one… I think it goes directly to the bathroom.” He looked at the shampoo inside. “How did you know I was going to like this one?”

“It was easy,” he pointed at the label. “it has the same flowers than the fabric softener… you can say it was a wild guess.”

They started unpacking their groceries as it had been indicated previously. It was their home, they had to make everything from the scratch and that included deciding even the littlest things, as in where do we put the snacks? And boy, Jeongguk had snacks.

“We could catalog them… first, we start for the ones that are sweet, the salty ones…”

“Where you belong.”

“And then in the third place, we put the ones that call you a hypocrite for saying that Burger King food is not considerate as a meal when you consume this amount of junk food.”

“I… don’t recall buying snacks like those. Next time will be.” The younger played dumb. “Wait, can he say the name of the brand? Will you censor that?”

“Anyway, I’ll play some music meanwhile. You said you brought your speaker, didn’t you?”

“Ah, yeah. It’s in the living room. Under the TV.”

“I’ll go get it.”

At least with some music, he wouldn’t have to listen to Jeongguk’s chatter.

He turned on the speaker and connected it with his phone, he scrolled down until he found some playlist that could send the idea they were just chilling in their house, enjoying their time together or some sappy thing like that. A Troye Sivan song started playing and he decided that was a good starting. Taehyung walked back inside the kitchen where Jeongguk was trying to figure out if he should place the ramen cups they were going to survive with along their staying in that house in the upper cupboard or just the average middle one.

“Middle shelf.”

Jeongguk turned around in confusion.

“Consider this, in case of emergency, it is better to have it closer to the reach of the hand.”

“Ah, right.” He started stacking their cupboards. “Did you find the speaker?”

“No, that thing you’re hearing is the background music that sounds inside my head.”

The younger clicked his tongue.

Taehyung rolled his eyes. “Yes, I did. I’ll put it up here. Are you going to be able to reach it later?”

“We’re literally the same height.”

“Wait… are we?”

“Yes, we are.” Jeongguk raised an eyebrow.

Nah-ah. I think I’m taller.”

“No, you’re not. You’re like 1,78, right? So am I.”

Taehyung crossed the kitchen in a couple of long strides until he was next to the younger making him drop about two ramen cups into the kitchen’s sink as he was cornered without a chance of escaping.

The actor narrowed his eyes. “You can’t tiptoe.”

“I-I wasn’t going to.”

“Okay, no shoes with insoles.”

“We’re both in slippers… by the way, thanks for that.”

He looked at the pair of glittered pink slippers Taehyung had got for him while they were queueing up in the supermarket and they realized none of them had brought theirs from home so Taehyung had dashed to the aisle while the younger kept making numbers making sure they were still inside the budget. Of course, Taehyung had spotted a perfect pair for his partner as soon as he laid his eyes on them… and oh, thirty percent discount would justify anything.

“They match your pajamas. You’re welcome.” He smiled naughtily. “Now, this is probably the one time I’m saying this but straight up.”

“Ha-ha, you’re so funny.”

“I’m being serious,” Taehyung tapped Jeongguk’s left shoulder with the enthusiasm of a high-on-sugar toddler. “Slippers off, uh… nice socks… Iron man?”

Jeongguk’s face turned crimson. “Yes…”

Taehyung is very well aware he shouldn’t look directly at the camera but if there was a moment to do it, it was now.

National TV, my friends.

“Moving on, turn around.”

“Are we really doing this?” Jeongguk finally spun on his heels.

“Yes, yes we are. Now stay still… We have them as our witnesses, this is the ultimate record.” Taehyung made sure his shoulders were completely extended and with a proud puffed chest, he waited for the results.

“Jeongguk is taller.” The cameraman pointed.

What.

“What?” He turned around and found the younger repressing a big cackle. “He cheated, didn’t he? You tiptoed.”

“Is this your trust vow to your partner? I’m offended how you can even consider-”

“Yeah, he tiptoed.” The man said off camera.

“I knew it! How dare you…this is the way you want to start our life together? Full of lies… the betrayal… the treason…”

“Fine, I won’t do it again.”

But when he was about to turn around again, Taehyung held the boy from the shoulders making him face him.

“I won’t be fooled twice. Now, stay still…”

Jeongguk gulped. Why was he coming closer? Why was he so close? He smelled nice… damn it, he was sniffing people… focus Jeongguk…

“Alright, let’s see…” The younger kept looking down, unable to meet Taehyung’s eyes. Taehyung remained unaware; he was too concentrated on make his point.

Taehyung placed his hand above his own head and while doing it, he took another step closer until their toes brushed underneath their socks, it was only when he looked in front of him that he noticed there weren’t centimeters separating him and Jeongguk but millimeters. Millimeters that kept their noses from touching and their bodies from bumping into each other in an awkward way.

But Taehyung had learned how to keep calm and not gay panic, didn’t he?

He doubted when they eyes met for an instant, but in the end, he knew he could tip the balance in favor on his behalf, use this situation to his own favor since the younger was the one who was in disadvantage for being surprised by an approach like that. And so, the actor pressed his forehead against the other boy’s making him almost hit the border of the sink.

Ya, Jeon Jeongguk don’t cheat.”

Jeongguk’s reaction was priceless, at first he froze with real fear on his big doe eyes and then it must have been the nervousness and the outburst of the whole situation but he cracked a big laugh from his whole chest that finally got him sliding until he reached the floor and continued laughing until his lungs were out of air.

Taehyung knew that was definitely going to be one of their best shots and with some editing, instant repeat and the reactions from the panel back in the studio, the audience was going to love it even more. Not that he was feeling a bit softer himself by watching at his partner laughing at loud with his entire face covered in wrinkles and his bunny teeth showing. It was all part of the role.

“Don’t do that.” Jeongguk recovered some air while still being knocked on the floor without being able to stand up.

“Don’t cheat.”

“You’ve said that already.”

“For a reason.” Taehyung crossed his arms on his chest.

The younger held the edge of the counter with his hand, using it to gain strength and get back on his feet. He shook his head like a shepherd dog after a bath and for the first time, he dared to look back at Taehyung who, with words that weren’t spoken, comically lifted both eyebrows.

“Okay, fine. I’ll stand still.” He took a deep breath and relaxed his shoulders.

Taehyung took step forward as he had done before, only that this time he placed his hand over his own head, feeling how his hair tickled his palms and with one move, his hand ended above Jeongguk’s head. There, he could feel the warmness of his head as he determined what it was already anticipated.

“Yeah, we’re the same height.” Taehyung declared after a dramatic pause.

“Well, what a surprise.” Jeongguk walked by him almost pushing the elder with the excuse of resuming his labor of taking the groceries out of the boxes and putting them into the cupboards.

His face still burned underneath his skin.

“Find the box with the dairy products, I haven’t put them into the fridge yet.” The younger indicated.

“Alright.” Taehyung scanned the remaining boxes until he found it. He put it closer and started filling the refrigerator with the products they had just bought.

The song in the background was almost over but it was still playing a few notes. It didn’t go unnoticed for the actor how Jeongguk was humming the melody in an almost imperceptible tone. Something that shouldn’t have come as a surprise since the boy was a singer and yet he found there was another link between them: music.

“Do you like this song?” Taehyung asked while picking some things from the box.

Jeongguk was caught in media res of his well-choreographed motion of aligning items one next to the other inside the cupboard. He gently rested one can on the shelf and then turned his head toward Taehyung as if he had just processed the question.

“Ah, yeah… I covered one of his songs a couple of years ago. I’ve been keeping track of his releases since then.”

“I see…”

The song ended and then it skipped to the next track on Taehyung’s playlist.

“Ah, I love this song.” The elder exclaimed. “Pump up the volume.”

“I don’t know this one.” Jeongguk admitted making Taehyung stopped everything else he was doing at the moment.

“You don’t know Half Moon? How? Do you live under a rock or something?”

“In a pineapple under the sea.”

Apparently. I didn’t think I’d have to educate you this early but young grasshopper, your journey will begin...”

“You’re just two years older than me.”

“Time is relative.”

“So is height… apparently.”

 

[18]

“I can’t believe we’re done.” Taehyung threw himself on the sofa again, having some rest between shots.

Of course, that was probably the first and last time they were going to go to the supermarket for the show. The staff would make sure they’d always have food as if it was their first shop. There were things that weren’t allowed inside such as alcohol or cigarettes –none of them actually smoked which was good, but it was a general rule for the rest of the team as well- they had been warned even before moving in.

However, as they had been told, there were certain moments that had to have a record for the common viewer; they wouldn’t need to go shopping groceries again because it would be installed in the collective memory of the audience and commenters how that moment took place. One time was going to be enough because that would create the image they needed, everyone went to the supermarket and there was not difficult to imagine the situation but, by having the video footage audiences could picture how they looked like doing something domestic like that and as any routine, it could be repeated with ease.

That was how the rest of the filming was going to be. There would be edits, repetitions and perhaps, they would have to re-shoot some things.

Taehyung didn’t want to think about re-shooting anytime soon.

The whole mess of the editing of his drama would have him working extra hours later on during the week to finish the scenes that had been lost in the process. Right when he thought he would have time to relax and attend to a few spring fashion shows, maybe shooting another advertising in the meantime.

Whatever was the case, he was stuck in some sort of time portal where he had to repeat scenes he had done before, a constant déjà vu.

“Mr. Kim…” It was their youngest coffee boy who constantly was running around the set. “Sorry for interrupting but… I was wondering, ugh… my sister is a big fan of your character, Seo Hyunsuk; she is completely obsessed with the story and makes me watch it with her every week.”

Well, there were things that made all the extra-job worthy.

“I’d like to surprise her with something… do you think you could… please… sign this for her.”

He held a mini-poster of the drama in front of him with shaky hands.

“Yes, of course, Soobin. To whom should I write it for?”

“Oh, Yeojin.”

To Yeojin, treat your brother well and don’t skip school… is it too much?”

“No,” the boy chuckled. “it’s perfect.”

“I have a younger sister myself, you should bring her someday to say hi. I’m sure she’d love it.”

“Really? She could… die… well, not literally but you understand me, I mean-”

Taehyung shook his head with a big squared smile adorning his face.

He finished signing the poster and gave it back to Soobin who kept bowing and thanking him over a million times.

“Thank you, Mr. Kim. It means a lot…”

“Please, Taehyung is okay.”

“Thanks… I should go and… thanks again.”

The boy ran in the opposite direction, he probably was supposed to be doing something somewhere, there was always something to do in the set.

“Look at you, being a celebrity and signing autographs.” Jeongguk mocked over the sofa.

The younger kneeled on the floor and rested his face on the head of the furniture where Taehyung was sitting.

“I should get a fame coach at this rate. I still have the marker, I can sign your face if you want. Right in the forehead, there’s plenty of space.”

Jeongguk hands traveled instantly to his forehead.

“It’s not that wide.”

“Yeah, well… to whom should write? My biggest fan Jeon Jeongguk, I know you can’t conceive the idea of a world where I’m not and that the hours we spend apart you’re counting the minutes to see my face again…”

“Ha, is that one of your diary entrances?”

“I can’t hear you, the sound of your tears at night because you miss me won’t let me hear a thing.”

“Next time get me a framed portrait of your face while holding a rose between your teeth, at least that one would be muted.”

“Finally you’re admitting it. Don’t worry, Jeon Jeongguk, you’ll probably see my face on TV.”

“I’m afraid I’m not a drama person and this guy… Seo Hyungsik.”

“Hyungsunk.”

“Yeah, he would need to be re-casted.”

“With who?”

“Uh, duh? Lee Jongsuk.”

“Dammit. It’s always him…” Taehyung clicked his tongue.

“Or Kim Soohyun… or Kim Woobin or…”

I get it.” Taehyung grumbled. “You know, for someone who’s not a drama person you sure know a lot of names.”

Jeongguk shrugged. “Yeah, well… I’m into guys.”

“Fair enough.”

“Boys,” Yeeun called for them. “We need you to put on the matching item you bought.” She read her notes. “Pajamas, alright. That would do.”

“Told you it was a good idea.” Taehyung mumbled.

The singer just rolled his eyes.

 

“Yeah, it was a wonderful idea…” Jeongguk looked at his reflection in the mirror. He wouldn’t admit it at loud in a million years but the pink rabbit on his pajamas was kind of cute.

What are you babbling about?” Taehyung asked from the bathroom.

He was still changing into the sleepwear inside the bathroom continuous to the hallway, the door had been left accidentally half open; it really didn’t matter until Jeongguk attempted to reply to the elder and looked back getting a glimpse through the corner of the mirror in which he saw a stripe of Taehyung’s honeyed tan skin right before the last piece of cloth fell gracefully upon his body.

Jeongguk looked away, embarrassed of his own thoughts.

Are you still there? You went silent suddenly.”

“You complain about how I never shut up and now you’re worried about my silence?”

Taehyung closed the bathroom’s door behind him. “I’m just saying…”

He looked good.

Taehyung always looked good, even with the minimum amount of make-up, having his dark hair slightly messed and wearing white and blue striped pajamas with little hearts with faces –another Line character, Jeongguk guessed- and a matching hair band. He carried a pair of glasses on his right hand that immediately dragged Jeongguk’s attention.

“Have you wore those before?”

“Uh, no… I don’t usually wear them because people might not like it… I use contacts most of the time but I took them off because the production got us masks and stuff. Still, my vision is… precarious.”

Now, Jeongguk was used to use contacts while being on promotions and even if you wore them every day it wasn’t the most comfortable thing in the world, but not wearing normal glasses because someone told them not to… while looking like that…

“Let me try them on.” Jeongguk extended his hand toward the elder.

“What?” Taehyung frowned.

“I have a pair at home but the crystals are fake, the round-shaped ones are my favorite. Let me try them.”

Taehyung extended his hand and gave the glasses to the younger.

Jeongguk tried them on right away. He looked at himself in the mirror and then back at the actor who was waiting for a reaction.

“Damn you’re blind.”

“Hey!”

“Not but, do you really see without these?”

“Of course I do, don’t be silly.”

Jeongguk pulled a face before the other boy snatched the glasses from his face.

“Okay, if that’s the case. How many fingers do you see I’m holding?”

The younger kept moving his fingers restlessly.

Taehyung shook his head. “There you go, cheating again.”

“That’s because you don’t have your glasses on and you can’t distinguish quantities.”

Taehyung put the glasses on and Jeongguk stopped moving his fingers.

“Two, two fingers. Are you happy?”

Jeongguk was right, there was no such thing as an ugly look on Kim Taehyung.

“It suits you… I mean, I know it's not guaranteed but at least now you look like an intellectual.”

The actor looked at himself in the mirror for an instant. Jeongguk gulped.

“Be honest with me, does it look bad?”

Jeongguk shook his head. “The same arrogant actor.”

Taehyung displayed a tiny smile that was more a shared secret than just a gesture.

It was strange interacting like that, in between shots. They didn’t have their microphones attached so they could speak freely, he didn’t have to fake it just yet, there was no need to put an act and still…

His heart had skipped another beat as soon as Taehyung’s lips curled. Jeongguk felt a warm relief running through his veins.

 

May, 29th

“Taehyung, are you with us?”

The actor blinked a couple of times before noticing the entire room was staring at him, waiting for his response.

“Sorry… I… I’m sorry, what was the question again?”

The male producer re-read it once again. “What do you think about your partner so far?”

“Ah, well… Jeongguk is…”

I don’t know a thing about him.

“He is…”

 

May, 24th

After a skin care session directed by Taehyung in which they both wore masks for twenty minutes and discussed over Overwatch character features, went over the order of the planets of the Solar system, disputed which seasonings were better and what was the best way of cooking noodles. As the conversation went by both realized it was getting darker and the main topic slowly changed from videogames and cosmos to food which meant they were hungry.

Then, since neither of them was an ace at cooking they went for the easiest thing they could actually cook without burning down the kitchen to the ground. And the infallible answer was without a question: ramen. Now there were some arguments about the cooking process of the noodles: water/milk, more water/less water, soggy noodles/firm noodles, spicy/not spicy, green onions/no onions, flavor when boiling/flavor after noodles boiling, egg/no egg… but in the end, they were able to enjoy a meal together without major issues about it.

And that included a cute scene in which Taehyung’s glasses fogged up with the steam of the food and Jeongguk pointed at it while chuckling.

Now, after they were done eating, a full stomach makes for a happy heart they say but in this case… there was something that was bugging certain actor a bit too much.

“I know we’re not sleeping for real but do we have to shot in the bedroom… it feels like a bit too much…” Taehyung commented, almost whispering to Yeeun.

“You’ve said it, you don’t get to sleep for eight hours or so until the next day but we need the shots of the scene so the editors can add a «morning scene» in which we show you two waking up as if you have spent all night in here. It’s for the footage mostly, the construction of the narrative.”

“Yeah, I get that but…”

At the moment her phone rang and Miss Su name’s shone brightly on the screen.

“Sorry, I have to pick up.”

Taehyung nodded and was left there, biting his lip and thinking about how there was no way out of this.

It wasn’t fair because he had done scenes where he pretended to be sleeping but now after the long day he was actually tired and who knows how long they would have to share the bed in the dark until they got enough usable footage for the episode. He could easily fall asleep in the first two minutes and his one concern was about his sleeping habits, one, in particular, that didn’t let him be calm in this situation.

He also caught Jeongguk yawning in the back, he was probably tired too and his idea was convincing Yeeun of not shooting more for the day but of course, the production and the team were paid for their working days and they needed to squeeze the most of it.

And there he was, no alternative, no choice but sharing a bed with Jeon Jeongguk.

Which got them… to this.

“Okay, even I know those are way too many pillows.” Jeongguk said while looking at the pile Taehyung just got to the bed –he probably had collected them all over the house even.

“I need them.” The actor justified himself. “For comic relief.”

“Ah, alright… I guess…”

Why was he so calm? Wasn’t he even a little flustered because of the entire situation?

The answer was that Jeongguk basically dying inside but his coping mechanism was pretending he wasn’t going to be the one in the shot until the last moment of realization.

It worked for him.

That was until they were both lying in the mattress, it was spring but they had the air conditioner on so they could use blankets without suffocating but the tremendous amount of pillows –twelve- between them. Jeongguk had to lift his head to check that Taehyung was on the other side. There was no sight of Yeeun but the cameras were rolling already.

Taehyung was fixed on his own thoughts and Jeongguk didn’t know how to start a conversation in that context, he kept looking to his sides.

Uh… I should… if…”

“Oh? What is it?” Taehyung, surrounded by a cozy wall asked.

“I was wondering…”

But before he could say something, Yeeun walked back into the room. Her face was pale like paper and she rested her body against the nearest wall. That’s when they started suspecting something was off. Then, the entire room was flooded with whispers and stares.

The producer ordered to stop the recording and both boys looked up with concern on their eyes.

“I’m sorry, I probably should’ve waited but it’s better if you find out as soon as possible.” She said as she walked closer. “I was on the phone with Miss Su she… she said someone saw you two at the supermarket today and… there are photos leaked. We were waiting to make an announcement but this was something that could be predicted it was going to happen at some point. People are curious and…”

“Does this mean…?”

She sighed. “The photos are all over the internet. The company tried to delete the evidence but it spread like wildfire and now it’s of the public knowledge. We’ve contacted both of your agencies but you should probably speak with your agents first.”

A familiar fear took over the younger’s face. His breathing had become heavier in the meantime the producer spoke.

He looked at his phone and noticed not one but hundreds of messages and notifications from every social media he owned. The phone kept vibrating, it was an endless display of pop-ups one after the other.

“I have… I have to call my agent, excuse me.” Jeongguk left the room.

Taehyung was able to keep the calm. He looked at the other boy as he walked away and then back at Yeeun. “I don’t understand, you said this was going to eventually happen… what’s the problem?”

“The problem is…” She sighed. “Not all commentaries were exactly positive as first expected. When the news about the redirection of the show… well, there were mixed reactions but one thing is a future projection and the other is the reality.”

“I can’t say I’m not familiar… I’ve gone through that before.”

“We should’ve prepared sooner, although bad or good this is going to drag some attention toward the show. There won’t be such thing as damage control for the show, that’s why I thought you should talk to your people first. I guess it’s more difficult for Jeongguk after all.” She said looking apologetic.

“What do you mean?” He squinted his gaze.

“Because of his past history… he…”

“Yeeun, there’s a problem with camera three in the entrance, we need to fill a report to replace it or…?” A member of the crew called for her.

“Wait for just a second, I’ll be there.”

Taehyung bit his lips. “Go, I should call Hyejeong anyway.”

He really wanted to know what was happening with his co-star but finding out through someone else didn’t seem right either. He unlocked his phone, finding the endless flow of messages and calls. He ignored them for now and proceeded to return one of Hyejeong calls.

“Hello…”

So you know.”

“How bad it is?”

Not as bad as it looks like… it was unexpected though. We decided to confirm it along with Jeon Jeongguk’s agency so in a couple of hours the world officially will know that you two are filming together. Not much to do but confirm what is already suspected.

“I see… what shall I do?”

“Continue with your schedules normally. We’ll take care of it. Probably avoid social media for a few hours unless you want to get caught in a swirl of commentaries.

“Got it…”

We’ll talk about it later on the week when we meet. On our side, we don’t think it’s necessary to hold a press conference or something, probably when the first episode airs the story will be different… until then, it’s just a couple blurry pictures of you two.

The tranquil voice tone of the woman reassured Taehyung’s confidence who knew they would handle it properly.

That wasn’t the case with the other half of the duo.

The abrupt breakthrough of the news hadn’t been exactly nice with him.

There were a ton of feelings that were fighting to come to the surface and he couldn’t help but become a ticking bomb.

“Hey, we’re internet sensations.” Taehyung joked when he went looking for the boy at the hallway.

Jeongguk’s eyes were dark, mate color, unbreakable.

“Can you not? For a minute, can you not do this? I can’t fucking handle you right now.”

Taehyung raised both eyebrows. “Well, it was doomed to happen so just relax.”

“Relax? You’re asking me to relax… this blew up.”

“Jeez, calm down. You know this was going to happen when you sign for the show, what’s the big deal?”

But Jeongguk wasn’t thinking clearly, he was just a big ball of fire and anger.

“Not a big deal?” He clicked his tongue. “You’ll keep trying to make it look less than what actually is. How the world see you… me… us... This fucking circus we have to deal with to live our lives…” His voice cracked.

“Well if you got your head out of your ass you’d know this is not only about you. Yeah, it sucks that the news got spoiled but lick your wounds and move on or perish on the way.”

“You don’t know a fucking thing.”

“Only because you don’t tell me a fucking thing.”

The younger gulped.

“You know what? I don’t care. I’m done for today and I’m going home. We can arrange a new filming schedule when you leave the fucking attitude on the side and behave like a real professional.”

Jeongguk didn’t say a word. He just stared at the elder as he walked away.

Every step was more painful than the previous one until his frame fainted in the darkness of the hallway.

 

May, 29th

“He’s a sweet boy… he really is… we have shared a few days now and I can tell he’s special.”

He really is.

 

 

Chapter Text

«Take it back»

[19]

June, 2nd

(The day after)

“Can you begin explaining what on Earth is happening, Taehyung?” Hyejeong gave him her signature dirty glare he hadn’t seen in ages. “Because I feel like I’m missing something in here.”

“Well… ugh… this… it got a bit out of hand I know…” He scratched his nape nervously. His face had turned unwittingly in a flushed red shade.

“Out of hand? This is beyond «out of hand». I really thought we had talked this through and agreed that you would tell me if there was any problem while shooting... Walking out during a working day… twice? I have to meddle.”

Taehyung looked away unable to meet her eyes.

“What happened?” She asked.

“You make it sound like a big deal but I’ll assure you it wasn’t like that.”

It was.

“And it definitely it’s not related to Jeon Jeongguk.”

It was.

“It was just some silly misunderstanding with the filming schedules.”

It wasn’t.

“So if we can move on and I don’t know… prepare my departure of the show… whoops, that’s a new necklace? I love the color.”

“Taehyung…”

“Fine, I know it’s not new.”

“Taehyung, I can be here all day until you tell me what happened in the first place. Why did you abruptly leave the place? The production team of the show was concerned and so was I. We didn’t hear from you in two hours. This is nothing like you.”

“I… needed some time alone…”

“Please, go ahead.” She crossed her arms on her chest.

Well…”

 

May, 31st

(The day before)

1: [+2577, -105] “DO YOU MEAN MY FAVORITE ACTOR AND MY FAVORITE SINGER ARE GOING TO BE AN ON-SCREEN COUPLE?? SIGN ME IN.”

2: [+720, -67] “I don’t know whether I want to be Taehyung to be with Jeongguk or Jeongguk to be with Taehyung…”

3: [+991, -43] “This is their hottest couple in all the years the show’s been airing. I said what I said.”

4: [+128, -15] “So that’s why Jeongguk has been so active lately. I thought he was about to disappear again but he’s going to have a weekly appearance on a TV show? Oh my…”

5: [+333, -25] “Do they have a couple name already? I need it for science purposes.”

 

“Good thing is that most of the comments were positive on social media.” Jeongguk stuffed his mouth with a handful of crispy rice snacks. He was sitting on the floor with his feet crossed, taking a look at his friend in the mirrors as he nailed a new dance step.

“Then? I don’t see the problem.” Hoseok stopped to tie the laces of his snickers.

“The problem is… I’m an idiot and I don’t know how to handle pressure situations properly.”

“You should print that on your presentation card.”

Jeongguk grabbed another bunch of snacks. “Things slipped of my hands and before I could notice I was being plain rude with him but just because he was there and he kept doing this thing he does…”

“You mean, being nice?”

“Yeah, that…”

“Jeongguk.”

“And I just exploded and basically told him to fuck off because he didn’t know a thing about it.”

“And he doesn’t.” Hoseok continued practicing in front of the mirror without missing a single beat while talking with Jeongguk.

“I know he doesn’t.”

“Then how do you expect him to understand what is going on inside your mind? He’s going to find out soon or later you like it or not and he’s going to hate that you didn’t go up front with it, to begin with. I know it’s personal but it’s affecting your work and he will be clueless about this until you bring some light to the matter.”

“I panicked, okay? I was reliving a lot of feelings I had buried somewhere and Taehyung just was there… and still… that’s not justification. I ended up saying mean things to him as usual… or worse.” He buried his face on his hands.

“Why don’t you go and tell him that tomorrow? You two haven’t seen each other in a couple of days; I think the distance might have helped.”

“I hate that I know you’re right,” he sighed. “I’ll walk directly toward him tomorrow and I’ll apologize for everything as soon as we get a moment alone.”

“If you don’t have a moment, make one.”

Jeongguk nodded and devoured his insecurities in the form of rice snacks.

“Wait, are you supposed to be eating in here?”

Eh...”

June, 1st

 [Virtual Marriage day 4]

(The day of)

“You got this Jeongguk. You say «hello» and then you apologize for being an asshole last time you spoke. That’s it, nothing too corny, just being back to what we… had? What we were… creating? It can’t be that difficult, Taehyung doesn’t look like the kind of guy that would hold a grudge against someone, right?” Jeongguk mumbled to himself.

He kept moving in circles behind the cameras, one of the makeup artists followed him around trying to finish coloring his cheeks without being able to tell him to remain still one more time.

As you might have guessed at this point, he was wrong.

Taehyung wasn’t just mad because he hadn’t reached him to apologize sooner –being May 24th the last time they got to film together- he had had a week to say sorry and while the actor would have made him beg just a little, he would have forgiven the young boy –as long as his excuses convinced him.

But he didn’t.

Still, that wasn’t the only reason for his grumpiness –whilst it was probably the main reason- Taehyung came from a tightened schedule and a tough week. First of all, they had had some issues that weren’t minor with a senior actor who kept coming drunk to shoot his scenes and with the lack of progress in the production while the drama had been aired with the man in the role –meaning they couldn’t kick him out of it- they couldn’t finish recording those last scenes they needed. Now with the renewal of some of his publicity contracts he had to shoot commercials and take some photos for the campaigns.

He didn’t have one second to stop.

In fact, he had just come from a photoshoot for a magazine straight to the location they were filming and after that, he had to make an appearance in a Gucci fashion show –not that he complained- but knowing a little about how the showbiz work, he was sure the first thing the reporters were going to ask as soon as he stepped into the place was about his participation on We Got Married and his unwedded-husband, one particularly hot idol that must not be named.

And he didn’t want to talk about one particular idol because he couldn’t stand that singular singer at the moment yet the problem was he had to shoot an entire episode with him.

Pretend they were falling in love when behind the cameras the story was awfully different.

Taehyung spotted him walking in circles somewhere and he decided to walk in the exact opposite direction to have his makeup done.

There was no place to hide since the space they had for preparation was reduced. Taehyung caught a glimpse of the younger modulating something that reminded him a lot when he practiced his lines between shots.

Damn it. Damn he.

Taehyung knew they would have to wear sports clothes for the activity of the day but he didn’t expect he would look good with regular training clothes; navy blue sweat pants, a matching hoodie and the most basic white t-shirt in the world… maybe it was the animosity between them, it was like some sort of chemical reaction that, the more he rejected it, the more attractive he became. To be fair, he looked like he hadn’t had a good sleep in days either but there was nothing a soft touch of blush and some editing wouldn’t fix for the cameras.

The actor shook his head and remained still so the stylist could finish doing his hair. She was finishing adjusting a hair band that showed the right amount of forehead and eyebrows, perfect.

Taehyung closed his eyes for a second, he needed mental clarity before starting with this whole circus. The brushes and makeup sponges felt soft against his skin he could’ve fallen asleep in any second, except…

He had no time to worry, he didn’t want to worry about that person, he had forgotten he shouldn’t have mentioned or thought of in the first place…

“Uh… Taehyung?”

The actor opened his eyes to meet a pair of bright starry eyes. He didn’t reply, he just gave the boy his best dirty glare.

Damn it.

This was going to be more difficult than he thought.

“I was, well, I was hoping we could speak for a moment if you…”

“I have nothing to talk with you. I believe your people received today’s activity schedule and notes, stick to it and there will not be further problems. I’ll do the same.”

Jeongguk gulped and cleared his throat. “Actually I didn’t… I just… well… I-I…”

“You two, the happy couple I wanted to see.” Miss Su walked through the people of the staff without caring who she almost ran over, the people moved away instead as soon as they spotted her.

Just in time.

“Ma’am,” Taehyung said. “What do we owe the pleasure of having you today with us?”

She lit a cigarette before speaking after one blow she let the smoke out of her lungs in the form of a big dirty cloud. “Don’t you think for a second you’ll fool me, not again. I trusted you to be my easy job but you two… what’s going on?”

Jeongguk opened his mouth to speak but she shushed him.

“No, I don’t want to know. Instead, I’ll tell you… the footage we have so far, amazing but the last you recorded, the bickering… lovely as it is, it has to stop. My guys are good editing but you two, whatever is going on behind the cameras has to stay behind cameras. Do you understand?”

Taehyung clicked his tongue. “Miss Su, I assure you, nothing is happening behind cameras and nothing will ever happen. We are two professionals and after our last encounter, we’ve decided to step up that professionalism. You’ll have nothing to worry about it.”

She took a long puff. “It better be like that. You still owe me that shot in bed. Can I count with you two to make this believable? The first episode will air next week and with the leaked pictures you’re on everybody’s mouths. You’ll have to work extra hard, you know that and I won’t like to have another conversation with you two. My other two couples are already a mess, I’m not risking this season anymore. We’re not getting canceled.”

“May I ask what the problem with the other couples is?” Jeongguk shyly asked. He had shrunk in the lapse of one minute. If there were subtitles in the screen, his would be tiny.

“One, the last one to be incorporated before you two absolutely despised each other in a way they can’t even get to record one scene together without arguing behind the scenes.” She didn’t say anything else but she gave both of them a special warning glance. “However, the other one… my long lasting pair of stars… ugh… tragic. Throwing everything we have worked so hard to achieve…”

“Worse than hating each other?” Taehyung asked.

“Far… far worse… they slept together.”

They were simultaneously silent. Jeongguk coughed and scratched his nape while Taehyung looked away, perhaps trying to accurately calculate the number of tiles on the floor.

“That sounds hideous.” Taehyung finally spoke. “You won’t have to worry about that… as I said before… professionalism.” He pulled a big smile.

Jeongguk nodded nervously and Miss Su kept smoking her cigarette, believing in his words.

 

May, 29th

“What do you think about your partner so far?” The producer asked.

Jeongguk readjusted himself to the chair and looked at the camera before taking a deep breath.

“Taehyung… well… he doesn’t need much introduction. When, uh… when we started shooting together I thought I was very lucky to have him with me. He’s a great actor and I remember seeing his face before… in a drama, a movie and he has the ease of knowing what to say at the right moment which is very convenient for me because I’ve always been a bit shy…” He chuckled showing his bunny teeth. “What I’m trying to say is that… he makes it really easy for me, he’s funny and witty, I look forward to spending more time with him and… get to know more about Kim Taehyung, the person.”

“Next question, what’s your ideal date?”

“Ah… Since I’m a guy of action rather than words, I’d love to do something that involves physical activity.” Please don’t take that in the wrong way. He laughed nervously. “I like sports and outdoor activities, with the tight schedules I’m sure none of us has the time to play around or just disconnect for a moment. It would be fun.”

Right?

 

June, 1st

“Who the hell thought this was a good idea?” Taehyung mumbled to himself while crossing his arms on his chest.

He would have enjoyed this activity any other regular day –yes, maybe he wasn’t the sport’s biggest enthusiast in the world (see: first meeting pilot episode) but that didn’t mean he couldn’t tag along for some recreational activity like this one- the problem was that he had a fashion event later on the evening and, even after taking a long shower in the middle, he’d be tired instead of enjoying something he loved.

And there it was this… sports junkie, Jeon Jeongguk, doing what exactly? Stretching? Doing some sort of warm-up before the real thing? Ugh.

At least it was another excuse for double checking those hell thighs and veiny hands.

Taehyung looked at his own slim figure in the red tracksuit on the reflection of a window and wondered if he had to work out a bit more, maybe some pushups? His tummy has always been soft and he didn’t care much about the diets –even though he had told Jeongguk he occasionally skipped a meal- his eyes dropped to the shape of his perky butt and decided he was okay like that. By the way, thank you, Daisy Fuentes Pilates.

The production team was locating two more cameras before the action cue. And, while Taehyung wouldn’t first pick this as his perfect date, he had to admit a giant playground for adults did look like fun.

Okay, a lot of fun.

So what if he was actually excited to get into a colorful playground for an hour and a half in which he could forget about his adulthood responsibilities? He still had to share time with Jeongguk doing whatever activity the producers had for them and, in case you’ve forgotten, he was still pissed at him.

The cushioned surfaces, the interconnected tubes that looked like pieces of macaroni painted in an arts and crafts class for a noodle frames with tiny circular windows similar to boats hatches, all those ramps, mats, ropes, stairs regular and spiral slides in vibrant shades of yellow, fuchsia, orange, cyan, red, green and blue. Taehyung counted at least three plastic ball pits, two suspension bridges and a fireman pole that effectively landed in one of the pits.

“Good you two are here.” Yeeun looked at them already dressed up. “Taehyung, your agent called and told us about the fashion show, don’t worry, it shouldn’t take more than the scheduled so you’ll be just in time.”

“Thank you, I really appreciate it.” He felt incredibly relieved he would have an excuse to cut the filming without feeling guilty. “I won’t like to miss that event, I’ve been waiting for it.”

He didn’t want to be there, not while having Jeongguk’s droopy puppy eyes nailed on his back begging for some attention or the minimum reciprocity, complicity, something that would make things easier. Taehyung didn’t share this feeling, Jeongguk had crossed the line and he wasn’t going to let go that easily. Well, maybe if he had reached earlier, he would’ve.

But Jeongguk was always secretive like he was holding back all the time and that didn’t help either to create their on-screen characters or to improve their relationship behind the cameras. That inability to read him as easily as he read other people was frustrating Taehyung to the point he had decided to stop trying and just fulfill his duties on the show. As Miss Su had said, they weren’t getting canceled, not even if they would have to swallow their pride and pull a smile in front of an audience. That was entertaining, their business, their lives.

And apparently, it was also a plastic ball pit.

“Today’s activity is simple, it’s a scavenger hunt. There are three items hidden inside the playground that will be later on exchange for special things in your future dates in the show if are collected in the span time of an hour. There are several hints inside too but you’ll have to work together to find them before the time is off. The space is too narrow to get in with the cameras ourselves but there are other cameras installed inside the games but remember there’s pretty much a path traced and mark for you to follow, don’t deviate and you’ll be alright. In any case, follow the purple arrows, do you understand?” The producer pointed at the floor where there was one purple arrow indicating where to go.

Both nodded.

“Are we going to be handcuffed this time?” Taehyung joked but he didn’t get the response he was expecting from the woman in front of him.

“Actually…”

“Oh, c’ mon…” The actor rolled his eyes.

“Again?” Jeongguk wasn’t amused either.

“You’re not going to be handcuffed this time.” The relieved look on their faces lasted shortly. “But…”

“I don’t like that already.”

 

[20]

“Are you ready?” Jeongguk asked without knowing what to do next. Should he hold his hand or something? Was he going to get his ass kicked if he tried to?

Taehyung took a deep breath and then said. “I can’t believe we have to do this.” He couldn’t believe he had to do it first neither.

Damn it, his rock, paper scissors capacity had betrayed him.

Yeah, he had joked about being blindfolded during the first episode but this seemed too much. The producers of the show were really investing a lot on them and their expectations were ridiculously high. Maybe it was their punishment for not cooperating for that cursed bed scene.

Jeongguk held his breath and wetted his lips waiting for the signal. He had almost tripped when he saw Taehyung on that hairband looking effortless handsome as always and now at least he couldn’t see the nervousness all over his face, there was a knot on his throat that he couldn’t unravel since he hadn’t had the chance to apologize before and now they were trapped in a frame and in front of a red light that indicated it had begun.

He got the signal and let the air off his lungs before taking the first step in.

“Okay so, we’re moving now.” He said. “There’s a ramp in front of us but is not too big so you be careful…”

“Alright. I’m fine so far. What direction now?”

“The path divides in two, left or right. The left one has a long hallway and the right one some kind of stairs.”

“Let’s go right. I’m guessing we’ve to go up since the hallway ends up in a pit.”

Jeongguk agreed. He knew they were heading the right direction as soon as he caught a glimpse of a purple arrow that confirmed it.

“Let me see, ugh, the stairs are next and…” Jeongguk froze as he felt a hand wrapping around his wrist. “I…”

“Is it okay? I can’t really see a thing.”

“Yeah, of course.” He gulped. “As I was saying, just be careful with the steps.” Jeongguk gently helped Taehyung to climb the stairs one by one as the elder wouldn’t let go of his wrist.

“We need to go faster or we’re not going to make it in an hour.” Taehyung pointed.

“Yes, we’re supposed to switch every ten minutes so it’ll take a little to adjust every time.” Jeongguk cleared his throat. “Uh, Taehyung.”

“What’s next?”

Jeongguk looked up. “We have a little climbing to do; do you think you can make it?”

“Be my eyes.” Taehyung’s hand closed tighter on his wrist.

The singer focused and they climbed a couple of levels together with Jeongguk’s help. It wasn’t as difficult once they started working together, Jeongguk would tell Taehyung where to step, where to climb or move and if it was necessary, he would also lend a hand. Like that, they found their first red envelope stick in the ceiling of one platform that as the younger described, it had a little camera drawn in crayons inside.

They were on good timing, the first ten minutes hadn’t ended yet and they had found their first price. Now it was the moment to change roles and this time Jeongguk was to one who had to use the blindfold while Taehyung guided.

Taehyung removed the blindfold and after a couple blinks the first thing he saw were Jeongguk’s eyes full of light on him. He was holding the red envelope and the camera drawing with a huge silly smile on his face. For a moment Taehyung almost fell for it.

He looked at the drawing and then at Jeongguk and faked a perfect smile. “Okay, your turn.”

Taehyung, as the actor he was, was able to get into character really fast. He knew he would have to do this often and keep selling the boyfriend of the nation image for the audiences at home. He remembered the producer’s words, they needed to make it believable and that included providing material and enjoying their day in the playground. Jeongguk seemed to be naturally excited for the scavenger hunt and that was a benefit for everyone. Taehyung, on the other hand, couldn’t wash off the bitter taste on his mouth.

Things could’ve been easier if only his partner didn’t have a whimsical behavior all the time.

Now he was all smiles and rainbows but what happened last time? He couldn’t just act like anything had happened and still, they had to pretend that everything was alright between them.

Taehyung waved checking the younger couldn’t see. “Let’s move.”

“Ah, yes.”

They wandered a little without finding any purple arrow around until Taehyung finally saw one across them through a net, meaning they would have to turn around and find their way back there. He was trying to find the fastest way to get there when Jeongguk’s hand grabbed the sleeve of his tracksuit.

“Ah, sorry. I didn’t hear you and everything was too quiet I thought you might have left.”

“I wouldn’t leave. I was trying to figure out a way to get back in track. We’ll have to go down through one of those fireman poles. Do you think you can make it?”

“I would do it with my eyes closed.”

Funny…”

“But you’re smiling.”

Taehyung wanted to erase that smudge smile off his face because he was right.

“You’ll go first,” He dragged the younger’s hand to the metal surface tenderly holding first before placing it against the pole. “this is the pole.”  

“Cold.”

Taehyung’s hand was still upon his hand. It was warm and cold at the same time and it felt like a caress when Jeongguk’s thumb softly moved above Taehyung’s. The actor held it for a moment before taking off the hand. He picked the younger’s hanging hand and put them together.

“Yeah. Hold it and wait for my sign to slide.”

“Got it.”

“You’re going to do it alright, you have to… hug it?”

“I have seen poles before, Taehyung. I know how it works.”

“That’s an anecdote for another date or another time slot.” Jeongguk chuckled.

The younger held the pole with both hands and then folded his legs closer to his chest, he smoothly descended, sliding through the pole as if it was the easiest thing in the world. He hit the padded surface with his folded legs just like a rabbit.

“Your turn.” Jeongguk called.

It wasn’t so high, Taehyung could do this.

He just needed to take a deep breath and go down just like he did.

“Taehyung, you coming?”

“Yeah, just a second…”

Taehyung held the cold pole firmly with his hands.

“You can do this.” He murmured to himself before lifting his feet from the ground and sunk in the slowest way possible while being unable to stop shaking.

He felt Jeongguk’s hands groping his back when he was closer to the ground.

“Is it you or…?”

“Don’t you dare going lower than that.”

“Yeah, that’s what I thought.”

The touch of his fingers lingered on Taehyung’s lower back in the form of a ticklish sensation for a couple of seconds more before the elder could let go of the pole.

“You lead.” Jeongguk tentatively touched the air until his index and thumb fingers closed on Taehyung’s sleeve like a tiny claw.

“We’ll go ahead and then turn left, I saw the arrow from across the net.”

“Alright.”

May, 31th

“I heard the first episode is going to be transmitted next week, is it true?” Jimin asked while sitting back on his designated spot.

They were about to resume the filming with the other panel members that were taking their respective places back in the studio.

“Yes, we’re basically the final part of the editing since we get to see the material’s final cut. They are in a hurry since the news leaked… well, they were expecting it to happen but it seems like there’s a good response and they have to use that.” Seokjin sat with his legs crossed in the chair.

“When is the D-Day?”

“Tuesday. I hope it will be Taehyung’s drama last shooting day for real. He’s been stressing out because of that for the past couple weeks. Maybe when that stick is out of his ass he’ll have the time to think about something else for once.”

“If things go as well as they are now, both of them will get the weight off their chests. Jeongguk doesn’t want to admit it but he’s scared to death this won’t work out.”

“We can only hope for the best now. Tomorrow should be interesting.”

“We should exchange notes.”

The elder got closer and while smiling naughtily he whispered. “I got to peep over tomorrow’s schedule.”

“And you haven’t told me yet? I seriously thought that our hour friendship was more valuable.” Jimin acted as if he was offended.

Seokjin rolled his eyes. “I was getting there. Do you want to know yes or no?”

“Of course yes. Spit it.”

“Playground. They are going to a playground tomorrow.”

Jimin’s smile grew wider. “Oh my God… This is going to be good.”

“I can’t wait.”

 

June, 1st

By the time it was Taehyung’s turn again, they were back on track following the purple arrows.

Taehyung maintained his eyes covered with the blindfold and walked behind Jeongguk in a respectable distance, they hadn’t said much for the past few minutes. The younger was a bit nervous for being the one guiding once again; certainly, there was an extra pressure in that role, leading the way was also making decisions about where to go next.

“We have one of those hanging bridges ahead. The kind that moves when you step into the planks so you have to be careful with the-”

“No, take another way, there must be another way.”

“Uh… there’s a big purple arrow pointing there and I can see a hint of a red envelope on the other side so I’m guessing that’s our path.”

Taehyung clenched his fists to avoid shaking. “I won’t do it, I can’t.”

Jeongguk felt how his voice broke in the end. “Hey, it’s alright. I’ll help you. I’ll help you.”

Taehyung took another deep breath. His hands were shaking but they had to do it.

He didn’t care how silly this challenge was, they were going to win.

He remembered one scene they shot in a building in which he stood up in the corner of a rooftop while shooting a gun but of course that was an entirely different thing because he wasn’t blindfolded, it wasn’t a real rooftop and it wasn’t even a real gun, the green screen and the CGI effects did the magic.

But he couldn’t just admit he was scared of heights in front of the cameras.

He had seen the stairs before, of course, there was no real danger because that was prepared to be safe, there was a safety net underneath and the bridge was secured, that didn’t make things easier.

“Hey…” Jeongguk whispered in a soft tone. “Everything alright?”

“Yeah, it’s just… remember what I told you in the first episode? When we were shooting in the Ferris Wheel? When we turned off the cameras?” He mumbled.

Uh…”

“Related to your… idea. Your apologized several times and…”

“Oh! Oh, yes, I recall now… would it have been better if I didn’t tell you about the bridge?”

“No.”

“Well then… I’ll help you, it’s not even high.”

“I can tell you’re lying.”

“Okay, there are a couple of meters but there’s a safety net and…”

Taehyung grabbed Jeongguk’s wrist so hard his nails might leave marks under the fabric of his hoodie.

“Listen, you’ll hold me as if you were holding yourself for dear life.”

“O-Okay. I can do that.”

“Promise me.”

“I promise it. This is what we’re going to do, I’m going to walk backward and you can hold my forearms, I’ll hold you in every moment, alright?”

Taehyung nodded and Jeongguk guided his hands to his forearms carefully, allowing the actor to notice every move he made due to his sight deprivation. Every touch, accidental friction felt like an electric shock. Jeongguk’s hands were placed under his own arms, he could sense his pulse right through them.

“Alright, we’re moving now. Little steps, you’re going to feel a little unsteady under your feet but I’m holding you.”

Taehyung gulped and took a step forward, the plank under his feet shook and he gasped, as a result, his grip closed even tighter around Jeongguk’s arms.

“One in, just a couple more.” He indicated in the sweetest way he could even if Taehyung was starting to cut off the circulation of his veins, he didn’t say a word about it.

After a couple of steps, they were halfway there. Two bodies moving together in a suspension bridge made shook more than one and, as a consequence, Taehyung felt his heart rate playing havoc under his skin. He started breathing faster when they reached another step.

“Taehyung… Taehyung are you okay? I know I’ve said it before but it will be just a couple more steps, we’re almost there, you’re doing perfectly.”

“No, no, no… I can’t do it. I can’t…”

“Yes, you can. You’re Kim Taehyung, there’s nothing you can’t do.”

“I can’t do this.” He sobbed.

“Hey, don’t say that.” Jeongguk had to think fast. “You know what? Forget the blindfold, we can cheat once.” He removed the blindfold of Taehyung’s face with one hand.

The elder’s face was pale as paper. He made the mistake of attempting to look down but Jeongguk stopped him before he could get a full view.

“Look behind, we’re there basically. Don’t look down now, look forward… look at me, only at me.”

Taehyung took a deep breath and concentrated all his attention on Jeongguk’s face. He stared at the little scar on his cheek, his wide nose, his bunny teeth, and his clear galaxy eyes while, slowly, moving altogether with him. When they finally finished crossing, Taehyung could feel the air running through his lungs once again, looking back in perspective it was around fifteen steps but it felt like a little eternity while they were crossing.

“They’re going to nag us for taking off the blindfold.”

Jeongguk rolled his eyes. “It was my turn to wear the blindfold anyway.”

Just when he finished his sentence, the clock alarm on his wrist started ringing indicating Taehyung’s time was over.

“See? Just in time.” He put the blindfold in.

Now the smile crossing Taehyung’s face was impossible to hide, his cheeks were peaky and round, flashed with a rosy tint.

“Where did you say you saw the red envelope?”

“Ah, around that corner,” he pointed to their right. “it was stuck to one of those foam rubber columns.”

“Pink or green?”

“Green.”

Yes, there it was.

Taehyung opened the envelope and just like their first one, it was a drawing in crayon, a bowling ball, and two pins –bowling date, maybe?- He proceeded to tell Jeongguk who comically got way too excited over the possibility.

Now they were two of three envelopes done and they still have a half hour to find the last one. That was good timing for them. Their expectations were already high with the first two prizes, who knew what the last envelope contained?

Taehyung had a few laughs when Jeongguk accidentally fell down a slide, but thanks to that incident they found another purple arrow. They got notifications from some of the producers via text messages that were occasionally checking they hadn't got lost but with the arrows and the cameras, they managed to find the traced way.

Jeongguk’s time was up and during his time leading they didn’t find anything either. Soon, they only had ten minutes left and while the younger was the one blindfolded, Taehyung couldn’t seem to find the right way, with the time running, it was becoming stressful.

“Maybe we missed something. We should go back to the start.”

“I’m trying to think.”

“It was just a suggestion, I’m trying to help.”

“Well, you’ll be just helpful if you’d let me think clearly in here. So I’m asking you politely to shut up.”

No, they had promised Miss Su they weren’t going to argue during the filming.

Jeongguk clicked his tongue. “Maybe if you weren’t so self-absorbed into this game we would have solved things a long ago, I’m saying this in a politely way.”

“Oh…”

Sorry, Miss Su.

“You want to talk about solving things? Really? Because to me, that sounds like a lie.”

Jeongguk removed his blindfold. “Listen, I’ve tried to talk to you but you don’t let me in either. It’s like no one can make a mistake before your eyes because you’re perfect. Let me tell you something, I’m trying to be helpful, funny, do what the producers told us to do… but you’re being moody even when we’re shooting. Do you want to talk about professionalism? Because you’re acting like an amateur.”

I’m so, so sorry, Miss Su.

“Did you just call me an amateur? Never mind, I couldn’t care less about your opinion.”

“You’re not doing your best to make me believe you don’t care about my opinion.”

“Oh, shut up and put that blindfold back on or they are going to scold us for real this time.”

“No, listen. We’re going to talk, for real.”

“I don’t want to talk «for real» with you. You’ve lost that.”

“If you could only listen for one second and get out of your tiny bubble of superiority.”

“Superiority? You were the one throwing a tantrum last week and I’m the one with a complex? You must be kidding me.”

“You know what? You’re childish; you’re the most childish person I’ve ever met.”

“You’re not one to talk. Do you know what’s childish? The fact that you had several days to apologize for being insufferable but didn’t have the guts to do it until the shooting day and then pretending like we are all right.”

“You were the one who wanted to put an act for the cameras and now you can’t help but let your own emotions rule you.”

Jeongguk always got to push all his buttons down just like that.

“I’m done with you. This is over. We’re getting out of here and we’re never crossing words ever again. I swear…”

Taehyung started walking faster but Jeongguk was on his heels, they didn’t really look where they were heading. They were just… infuriated.

“I shouldn’t have taken this part, good intentions aside I can’t believe I had to go through this. I’ve never been so disrespected in my entire career…” Taehyung took a couple of long strides and began climbing one platform.

“Ah, sure you had good intentions behind this. More than make yourself even more famous?”

“You really think you’re the only one taking risks with this show, don’t you? You called me self-absorbed but you’re the one who can’t see further than your own nose.”

“You don’t know a single thing about me.”

“Well, I guess it’s too late for me. I hope this show gets canceled anyway.”

“Well, I hope you don’t make it to that stupid Gucci fashion show.”

Taehyung glared at the younger.

He did not.

“You don’t know a thing about fashion and it shows. You have horrible taste and I know that because I read your profile, that’s right.”

“You have nothing on me that can possibly affect me.”

“Yeah? I hope IU retires.”

Taehyung crossed his arms on his chest, satisfied with his statement.

Jeongguk looked more than offended.

“You didn’t…”

“I just did it.”

“Take it back.” Jeongguk advanced until he was just in front of him, trying to intimidate him.

Taehyung didn’t even blink.

“Nope.” He raised both eyebrows.

“Take it back at this moment or I swear to God…”

“You swear to God, what?” He was so close he could feel the younger’s breath tickling his face.

“Take it back, right now.”

“Make me.”

“Fine.”

By that moment, Taehyung hadn’t noticed they were just in front of the biggest plastic ball pit in the playground and it took only one little push to destabilize his balance and get him moving his arms in the air like a cartoon character. But if Taehyung was falling, he wasn’t falling alone. He extended his arms and got to grab violently the younger’s hoodie and with the remained hand he nailed his nails on his back to make sure he was on the boat too.

But also, it was at that moment, that instant before falling together that all happened in the blink of an eye, the flutter of a butterfly, the ephemeral life of a second followed by a new one that their eyes met when time could freeze just to frame a memory that Taehyung felt it.

The way his heart was beating, how his face wasn’t just red and warm because of their heated argument, the sound of the strike, the cold water balloon, the arrow that traversed both of them and was the real reason they lost what was left of their balance, falling together into a ton of colorful plastic balls, falling in more than compromising position with two pairs of lips dangerously close.

With a strong impact and a soft push, those two pair of lips met in a quick, accidental peck inside the ball pit of a playground.

They kissed.

They had just kissed.

It was an accident but an accident it was still a thing.

Jeongguk got up right away but Taehyung couldn’t recover that fast. He remained paralyzed surrounded by the plastic balls covering the surprise of his face while he took one finger to his lips to feel how the electricity was still dancing on his skin, all over his body like a spark of something exciting a new discovery, like something he shouldn’t have wanted and yet, it was there.

“Oh my God…” He whispered.

“Taehyung, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, are you okay? Talk to me. Are you breathing? Did I crush you when we fell?”

“I-I have to go.” His pupils were wider than a pair of marbles. “I’m leaving.”

“Taehyung, wait!”

But he didn’t listen anymore, just as if it was on purpose, it didn’t take him more than just a few seconds to find the way out. He just walked like a zombie out of the playground, he walked past the production team and then out of the place without hearing a single thing.

Jeongguk let a deep sighed out of his chest when he was going out, he found the last envelope with the drawing of an island inside.

“Great, we won.

 

Chapter Text

«Definitely, maybe»

[21]

June, 7th

 Jeongguk’s left leg kept moving restlessly while he was sitting outside his agent’s office.

This is it. He thought. I’m fired, they’re ending my contract today with an «unfortunately we’ll have to let you go.»

He had screwed it. He had screwed it badly.

Miss Su was the angriest among the producers and he had to deal with her chimney mouth and pointy index finger once Taehyung left the place. Not only that, the actor’s manager didn’t find him anywhere and whilst Jeongguk thought he had gone straight to the fashion show afterward, the boy himself had to experience something he didn’t expect to feel for someone like Taehyung: concern. He was concerned when the elder didn’t appear in the event and people started asking where he could be, if Jeongguk wasn’t feeling guilty enough before, after finding out his co-star was missing, he felt even worse.

Thank goodness he showed up just a couple of hours later. He was perfectly fine or that was what his manager had said. Jeongguk couldn’t shake it from his head even hours after. He laid in his bed looking at the ceiling, wishing there was a way of doing something, reaching him somehow. They never got to exchange numbers after all.

Around two hours later, he got a message from Yeeun, the woman was his closest intermediary and she confirmed what they had told him. He would have to thank the producer later; she covered their «missing audio» during the last part of the shooting excusing there was some problem with the microphones. She didn’t say anything to him but there was something on her eyes, she definitely knew.

Jeongguk gulped and took a look at the closed office door.

What kind of sermon his agent would have prepared for him?

“Jeongguk, you may go inside.” The secretary indicated.

“Ah, thank you.” He stood up way too abruptly and almost hit the painting above his head in the process.

He quickly bowed when he passed by the woman’s desk and then opened the door of the office carefully as if he didn’t want to be actually heard.

His agent adjusted the round glasses while talking on the phone, his gaze moved directly to where Jeongguk was. He pointed the chair in front of the desk for him to sit up as he finished greeting the person on the phone.

“…thank you, a pleasure to speak with you as always. Have a nice day.”

Well, at least he wasn’t mad or he didn’t look as mad as Jeongguk thought he was going to be.

The singer heard the clicking sound of the retractile pen and then the clashing of the plastic of the landline.

Here it came.

“Jeongguk…” He began saying.

“Before you say anything I just want to apologize beforehand. I’m young and inexpert and I still have a lot to learn. I’ll be more careful with my seniors and elders from now on and I’ll not waste another opportunity like this-”

His agent cleared his throat and stopped him right there. “Wait, what? Apologize?” He frowned. “What for?”

“Uh… never mind.” He pretended to cough. “So if I’m not in trouble, why am I in here… exactly?”

“Trouble? No! Nothing of that. You’re here because the premiere of your episode had the highest views last night; it even overpassed Gong Yoo’s new drama.”

“I… don’t understand.”

“Jeongguk, you’re in your twenties, what are you doing that you aren’t checking social media?”

Playing Overwatch until four A.M. and pretend that his problems weren’t real.

“I overslept.” He shrugged.

“Well, basically We Got Married, your name and Kim Taehyung’s trended for five hours after the transmission. Your old songs entered the charts again, number one in Melon… You gained around twenty thousand new followers on Twitter, ten thousand on Instagram…”

Where the hell was his phone?

Oh. I… I see.”

“Yes, it is a big deal, kid.”

“Just to clarify it… I’m not in trouble?”

“No. You’re not in trouble, Jeongguk. In fact, I wanted to congratulate and give you the good news in person.”

“More… good news?”

His agent nodded and smiled. “Great news for you, the best news.”

“Yeah, but can you please tell me I’m kind of having a mental breakdown over here and I’m sure I was on the verge of a heart attack just five minutes ago so…”

“Remember I told you to wait until the time was right? Well, the time is right now.” Jeongguk didn’t fully process his words so he rephrased it. “How does a comeback in July sounds for you?”

Jeongguk’s bottom lip trembled, his heart skipped a beat.

“A-A comeback? A real one? With new songs and presentations…?”

“Even bleach if that’s what you want.”

“At this point…”

“It wasn’t difficult to convince the big fishes after the boost of last night. The audience is loving you two and you, with the bear costume, it caused a sensation.” The man explained. “It would be an EP but after a few months…”

Almost thirteen months…

“It’s a good start, don’t you think.”

“Yeah, of course. I was starting to think they would dismiss me at the end of the year and that I would never have the chance to make music again after that.”

“It was complicated… everything that happened but they are taking the chance with you and you must do the same.”

“Thank you… thank you so much, I’ll assure you I won’t let you or the company down. I’ll work extra hard and the songs… are going to be the best thing you’ll ever listen to… not to brag about it.”

“I can see that happening, you have a few spare records that could be use or remix, create something new with that or maybe polish songs that never saw the green light. Anything that would speed up the process would help right now.”

“Sure, I’ll talk with the producers and maybe hyung could help me write something if he’s not too busy.”

“Give him a call. I’m sure he’ll gladly help you. Well, I have some paperwork to do so that will be it. You may go.”

“Thank you, thank you, Yeongcheol, you don’t have an idea how much this means to me…”

“Don’t thank me, this is all because of you. I knew it the first time we watched your audition, you’re special, kid. Don’t forget that…”

Jeongguk was about to tear up. “Yeah… thanks… I mean…”

“And don’t forget it, keep with the good work in that variety show, it has practically saved your career. I told you you should give it a chance, you two are natural.” He said whilst looking like a proud parent.

“Ah… yes… I will… I’m… I’m going to go now… if you don’t need me… huh… bye.”

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

If Jeongguk thought he had screwed it up before, he had messed everything ten times more since the last time.

He closed the office door’s behind him and felt how the blood had returned to his body.

The secretary wasn’t at her desk, she was probably buying coffee across the street. At least she wouldn’t have to presence Jeongguk actually having a mental breakdown in the empty room.

“What am I going to do…? Taehyung doesn’t want to see me… I haven’t got any more schedules from the shows, no instructions, not even some silly script.” He started walking in circles. For some reason, moving helped him to think. “I can beg, I would beg… I would crawl in the floor asking for his forgiveness…”

Jeongguk felt the ticklish sensation their accidental peck had left on his lips and his body trembled remembering the sugar rush of the moment. His heart was beating so fast he couldn’t tell it was because he was having a comeback in less than a month or because his leg still moved restlessly every time he thought of Taehyung’s soft lips lightly touching his.

It wasn’t the moment to think of that when the other half of Korea’s most beloved new lovebirds currently hated him.

He would have to do something, quickly.

He needed an idea, a signal from heavens and-

Phone ringing, there was a phone ringing on the secretary’s desk. Well, it would go straight to the answering machine anyway, leave your message after the tone and all that.

“Hello, I’m Lee Hyejeong calling from Mega Entertainment. I’d like to discuss the conditions facing the termination of the contract related to the variety show We Got Married currently filming-”

Jeongguk dashed to the desk and picked up the phone.

“Hi, I mean, hello… good morning. Before you hung up, let me introduce myself. You don’t know me… directly at least. I’m Jeon Jeongguk I’m in the show with Taehyung… with Kim Taehyung and I was wondering if maybe there was a tiny, small chance to change your mind… and his? Please?”

 

June, 6th

 “Are you watching it?” Seokjin asked on the phone.

“No, I’m not watching it. I’m leaving the show I don’t even know how it got this far. The first episode shouldn’t even have to air tonight.”

Killjoy. I wanted you to hear my witty comments and funny anecdotes; don’t you want to know if I told them about that time in Europe?

“You wouldn’t.”

Wouldn’t I?”

“Seokjin, I swear to God and our friendship if you even mentioned it to someone-”

You wouldn’t know if you don’t watch it… besides, you haven’t told me why you want to abandon the show. It wasn’t that bad when we last talked about it.

“Things… happened.” He shrunk among the sofa’s cushions.

What kind of things?

Jeon Jeongguk’s lips.

“I don’t see what’s the point of being in a show that makes me unhappy when I could be focusing full time on my career. There, that’s it, no further explanation needed.”

Taehyung… You’re an awful liar. I can tell by your face.

“You can’t even see me right now.”

That’s the point, I don’t even need to see your face to know. Have you looked at yourself in the mirror?

Taehyung looked across his living room at the full body mirror that caught a glimpse of his face. He was indeed with his signature pouty lips and puppy eyes. Damn it, Seokjin was good.

“Anyway, I’m not watching it.”

Wait until we meet this Saturday and you’ll see you can’t lie to this handsome face.

“What? I can’t hear you? I’m going through a tunnel, the signal… bad… I’m losing…”

You’re sitting in your living room.”

“Bye…”

The black mirror of his flat screen TV gave him his own reflection back.

No.

He crossed his arms on his chest.

He was not watching the show.

Not even if it was the first episode.

He wasn’t going to relive all those moments just before things got complicated.

“Well, maybe if I just… I’ll watch it for the other couples.”

The temptation to the reach of the hand.

He turned on the TV.

Just a second later he got a new text message.

Message from Seokjin:  I knew it.

Damn it, he was more than good.

Maybe if he just watched the first five minutes…

The first thing Taehyung spotted were the hosts of the show, including Park Misun who was one of the most remarkable MC’s all over the seasons, there was also Eric Nam sitting with other two guests –he liked him, he had cooked some pasta for the actor some time ago- and there, there were Seokjin and someone Taehyung recognized as Park Jimin, another idol from Jeongguk’s agency. They were the same age he recalled.

They introduced themselves and the host joked about how there was a new couple being introduced –them- but, even though the surprise had been spoiled a few days ago, they still had some tricks on their sleeves. Without further delay, they showed the first clip.

It was something Taehyung had forgotten, the first time the cameras appeared on the studio when he was filming the drama. There was a brief presentation that pointed him as one of the most promising new actors of his generation, a born star, a charismatic face, and great presence… then some cropped video of the drama –from the pilot- when Taehyung’s character was first introduced too, he was wearing a dark grey suit and glasses, he had a file on his hands and quickly matched his costar’s pace.

“Seo Hyunsuk, I am the district’s prosecutor assigned by the government to follow the Black Hand killer. We’ll be working together, Detective Lee.”

Taehyung mouthed the lines.

The video ended there and next shot was the cameras sneaking inside the set, there, before Taehyung could tell, they captured the moment he was getting out of character before stepping in. Back in the comments section the hosts and guests made some comments about how young and effortlessly good looking he was. The next he remembered, they brought the red envelope and joked about the role of the husband he was about to play.

They never got married anyway.

Then it cut to the video he had filmed later, introducing himself and telling people a little bit more about himself and then they went back to the commentary panel who started talking about him. Seokjin said some nice words –he would have to thank him later- and he didn’t mention what happened in Europe –thank goodness.

The show was divided into segments that got to show the different couples and with them, there were other two –that, according to Miss Su, were more problematic than them- so after Seokjin told them a little bit more about Taehyung they went to take a look at the other two pairs.

Taehyung’s phone buzzed at least thirty times in the next thirty seconds.

His face was everywhere.

Even Yoongi texted him saying he was doing just fine.

He opened his Twitter account –he rarely used it nowadays with all the work he had but he occasionally posted some photo while working on the sets or personal pictures taking during his photography journeys- but now he was curious. He wanted to see the repercussion of his choices as it happened.

Sohye  Tae @actorkthThis is my first time watching #WGM and that intro… all I can say is that Taehyung acting always gives me the chills, r we gonna see Jeongguk soon too?

jocelyn @stangirlofthemonth: Am I the only one watching cause of the first m/m couple? I’m so excited I can’t wait to see them together #WGM

persona @kath99: I’m watching this for Jeongguk but I’m falling for Taehyung already?? Help. #WGM

Purple u @alexx7827: god, seokjin is so handsome #WGM

Well, that was insightful indeed.

After the commercial break the cameras were back with Taehyung, this time it was the day they shot their first meeting. His pulse raced a little reminiscing that day –before everything went down in the way it did.

Of course, they got to use the clip of him hitting his head against the car ceiling and playing it over and over again but it was funny at last.

Taehyung got to watch from the outsider’s point of view everything he had done that day, also under the skillful eye of a crew of editors that were like surgeons, cutting, stitching, putting together the essence of the show for the audience. They showed the different trials he went through and they saved the meeting for the next sequence after the other couples’ clips to keep the new viewers hooked.

Message from Seokjin:  So…

Message to Seokjin:  I like the parts where you know who doesn’t appear.

Message from Seokjin:  You can’t physically see me but I’m rolling my eyes right now.

Taehyung sighed and read some more comments on social media before picking a snack from the fridge and waited for the key moment of the episode.

Jeongguk taking off the bear mask after startling Taehyung.

«Hello… I’m Jeon Jeongguk and I’ll be your husband for the season, please take good care of me.» His voice echoed in the living room.

There it was again.

That… sensation inside his chest.

Something agitating inside his ribcage.

Pounding more and more.

«If I tell you that I’ve been looking for you all day, would you believe me? Sorry I made you wait but… uh… I got these for you

His lips turned into a thin line.

“Nice to meet you, Jeon Jeongguk… I want to say we’ll get along but we won’t.”

 

[22]

June, 7th

The night was coming to an end but the clouds were getting darker than ever. The rain was also starting to cease yet the drops inertly kept draining from the steel sheet roof. Just across the street, there were people, probably families sleeping cozily without a clue of what was happening outside. The lights and neon signs were blurred on the water ponds, her shoes distorted them even more and the footprints left behind had created her own crumbs path.

The metal of the gun felt even colder on her wet hands as she took the emergency stairs of the building until she got to the rooftop.

She took two more steps, trying to catch a glimpse in the darkness, a sound that she could identify to find him, trying to avoid her emotions to take over her body. She got him cornered at the verge of the rooftop.

“It’s over now…” Her breath was quickening. She gulped. “Why… why did you do it?”

He licked his lips and shook his head. “It took you some time to find out, Detective Lee. I must admit, I’m disappointed with you.”

She pointed at him with her loaded gun. The bruise above her lip was still bloody. “Hyunsuk… answer me! Why did you do it?”

He clicked his tongue before answering. “Do you want to know why? Because they deserved it. Every single one of them got what they deserved.” He smirked. “It started with police officers that would erase the trails of criminals who could afford the price… then it was public functionaries and then… politicians. All of them, guilty.”

“Hyunsuk… they weren’t responsible for what happened to your family.”

“They all were!”

“The system killed your parents, not those people. I agree they all got dirt on their hands but there were other ways…”

Yeah? I’ve been a prosecutor for four years… do you know how many times I’ve seen those bastards walk away as if nothing had ever happened? This city is rot, full of rot people that make it discompose as we speak.”

“That doesn’t make you less guilty of their crimes. You were working with me all this time…”

“I always was one step ahead of you, detective. Making you bite the bait just like a delicious meal.” He let a sonorous disturbing laughter out of his lungs. “Since the beginning.”

“What about Boreum? Was she in your plans too?” The detective's hands were shaking.

His face changed drastically before the mention of the girl.

“She wasn’t supposed to be there… she wasn’t supposed to…” He sobbed. “She wasn’t part of the plan…”

“That was the case that got you into the investigation, you never thought Hojae was guilty, didn’t you? You buckled down to prove he was involved to erase your own track... but there was a problem, she saw you. She would’ve recognized you so you had to get rid of her.”

“No!” He covered his ears with his hands.

“You killed her, Hyunsuk.”

“Shut up! Just shut up!” He cried out.

“Where’s the body? We couldn’t find it but you know where it is.”

His eyes were injected with blood, he walked closer to her. The detective held the gun with both hands and warned him to stay back but the man wouldn’t listen to her. He kept moving until they were facing each other under the dim dying light of the building’s terrace. He grabbed her hands and pointed the gun at his own chest.

“Shoot me. I know you want to do it… I probably deserve it.”

For a moment when she looked at him, she saw the same young man that once walked to her office with the light on his eyes and a smile on his face. Now he had turned grey, he had lost all the childish innocence he used to have on his body. The raindrops fell from his locks and from his wet eyes.

“I’ve been dead for a long time. End with this, Seyoung, please save me from this darkness that’s consuming the last of me...” He begged.

“Seo Hyunsuk you’re under arrested...”

He shook his head. “You don’t have the guts to do it.” He held the gun tighter against his body, all the veins of his hands popped up. His eyes were wide open she could almost see his soul.

She didn’t flinch either fall for what he said. He was going with her, to prison.

“You’re too naïve for your own good, Lee Seyoung. You always try to see the good in people and that made you blind... I suspect you knew it but you ignored your instincts and good judgment.”

For him. He was right, she trusted him and because of that, she couldn’t face the truth until it was in front of her face.

He looked at the night sky opening to greet the morning.

“I always thought we were like tiny humans living inside those Chinese boxes, you know? A box inside a box inside box… trapped, imprisoned in this system. I want to be free now.”

He let go of the gun and looked at his back, the vacuum of his own gloom.

A single teardrop fell down her cheek as he fell down the edge of the building, it took her a moment to realize he was gone.

“And cut.” The director shouted.

Everyone in the studio started clapping and Taehyung stood up from the security mattress behind the fake building construction. He bowed a couple of times and then pointed at his costar Bae Doona who had incarnated Detective Lee all over the drama, she also gained a round of applauses.

“You were perfect, Taehyung.” She patted his back moments later when he was drying his hair with a towel.

“You too, I really thought you were about to shoot me when I said you didn’t have the guts.”

“I would’ve.” She chuckled. “You’re done now, this was your last scene, wasn’t it?”

“Yeah. It’s been an honor.” His face lit up.

“My pleasure,” she extended her hand and Taehyung shook it. “you’re going to impress a lot of people after this. Trust me.”

“Thank you.” He bowed politely. “I will always treasure everything I’ve learned working with this crew. I’m going to miss Hyunsuk.”

“Every character and role you play will teach you something.” She smiled. “By the way, congratulations on your husband role.”

He blushed. “Thank you… I guess.”

“It seems like it’s going to be a huge success.”

Ah… I hope so.” He shrugged.

“Well, someone is quite a dedicated spouse…”

“What do you mean?”

She tilted her head pointing at the figure hiding among the shadows and the crew members. The silhouette of a young boy wearing a light blue striped shirt, tight pants and a mask that covered half of his face except for his big eyes.

There it was again.

That thing growing inside his chest.

Thump-thump.

“What the hell is he…” he noticed Doona was still there. “I mean, why nobody told me?”

Taehyung excused himself and crossed the room almost running and tackling the younger to a secular corner.

Jeongguk lowered his mask. “You were the killer all this time?” His mouth dropped and his eyes widened.

“What are you doing here?” He mumbled ignoring his previous statement.

 “Hi… I thought about dropping by and say hi…?”

“You just did, now bye.”

“Please, can we talk for a moment? I promise that if you don’t’ want to see me after it, I’ll never bother you again.”

Taehyung raised an eyebrow.

“Is that so?”

“I brought churros…”

 

“You didn’t say it was a churros truck…”

«CONGRATULATIONS ON FINISHING FILMING BLACK HAND»

It was a pastel food truck with little pink bunnies and a giant picture of Taehyung with some Snow filter.

“It has coffee, lemonade, and milkshakes too… I didn’t know which one you’d like more.”

“I’ll drink a strawberry milkshake.”

“A strawberry and a chocolate milkshake.” Jeongguk asked the person in charge of the truck.

“So… are you going to explain what is this all about?”

“I thought this pastel truck would be like a sort of white flag… maybe your coworkers would like it too.”

Once they got their drinks they sat in one of the tables installed.

“I’m listening. Don’t waste my time.” He crossed his arms on his chest.

Jeongguk took a sip of his milkshake and then took a deep breath.

“I’m sorry. I’ve been acting like a jerk since day one and it’s not your fault.”

Clearly.

“I don’t know how you got into the show but for me, it wasn’t a choice of my own. I had been without work for months until the offer appeared on the table and I couldn’t say no even if I didn’t want to do it.” He bit his bottom lip. “I’ve been in an indefinite hiatus for a long time because… because of my sexuality.”

Taehyung frowned and sat straight on the chair, listening carefully.

“The reason why I exploded last week is that I got vivid flashbacks of…” His voice trembled. “I…”

The actor could see how Jeongguk was physically struggling to tell him. Taehyung’s eyes softened and when the younger looked at them, the knot on his throat disappeared for a moment.

“I was outed.” He blurted out. “I was outed by the press. I didn’t come out I was dragged out of the closet.”

“Oh… Oh my God… Jeongguk I’m so sorry, I didn’t know.”

Taehyung felt how his chest ached due to his sudden confession.

“Not many know because it was covered up by my agency but… I was dating someone and a photographer took some photos of us after a date. According to my contract, I wasn’t supposed to be dating either but… things happen. The paparazzi asked for money…”

“Those vultures.”

“Yeah, my company paid for a while but they kept raising their prices and they got tired or I don’t know, they needed a scandal and the photos were out and it was my face that was all over the internet. It took three hours to report and took down the pictures of the site but until then, it spread out like wildfire. You may not remember it because that month other four same-gender couples were out, including a big surprise… for better or for worse, my scandal was quickly eclipsed.”

It took an instant for Taehyung to remember he had read that news somewhere, he was in Japan for a publicity contract working on some promotions when Seokjin texted him. Of course, back then the name Jeon Jeongguk didn’t mean anything to him. He empathized with the indignation feeling but by the time he was back in Seoul, as Jeongguk had said, other couples were in the spotlight and there were even more controversies that drew the attention toward their direction.

Taehyung was disgusted. He was feeling physically ill, his hands were shaking.

“Jeongguk… I am so sorry. I had no idea what you went through, I feel horrible…”

“It’s not your fault. I didn’t tell you but yeah, it was awful. Even if the news and the posts were deleted, the pictures were reported many times… it had come to the light already and… it wasn’t a good moment for anyone. That’s how my father found out.”

“Oh…” Taehyung covered his face with his hands. His cheeks were burning. “I don’t know what to say.”

“It was… harsh to say the least and…” he gulped. “the company decided it was for the best if I made some official statement and strongly suggested I should come out as bisexual instead.”

“They did what?”

“Something about a part of the female public disliking the idea and keeping the illusion…”

Now, there wasn't a problem with Jeongguk's real sexual orientation, as far as Taehyung knew he could be whatever he wanted but the fact that his own company made him pretend he was something he wasn't was what angered the actor.

“What the fuck? That’s beyond fucked up. That’s the worst fucking idea I’ve ever heard.”

“They told me if I did it, I would have more chances to «fix» my reputation, that it was all part of the damage control.”

“I want to throw up.” The actor was pale as paper.

“I did it because it was my only chance to remain the company and maybe… in the future when things were right I’d have the chance to keep making music and meeting my fans again. So when the opportunity to redeem myself with an inclusive show that could show people that I wasn’t just the boy of the tabloids… I had to say yes but I hated it. I hated the idea since the beginning and although I have always been reluctant about it, it was never your fault… in fact, you always made things easier even when you made them difficult.”

Taehyung’s heart skipped a beat.

“Now, things are better and, in fact, I was offered to have a comeback for the first time since the scandal of the photos. A real comeback with an EP and everything, I thought that was discarded for me. I know you want to drop the show but… if you could consider it for a moment…”

Jeongguk lowered his head.

“Please, don’t leave the show now.”

“Jeongguk… raise your face.” He asked. His bottom lip was still shaking. “I think we both started with the wrong foot but I can see that this means a lot to you…” He breathed in. “I’ll do it but with some conditions…”

“Whatever you want.”

“We don’t know each other that well but we have to be honest with each other to make this work, just like you were right now. If something bothers you let me know and I’ll try to do the same but we need communication because this is a job and we’re working together.”

“You’re right. Also… I haven’t had the chance to apologize for what happened last week. I heard that you didn’t go to the fashion show, sorry about that… about everything that happened that day.”

Everything…?

“It’s all in the past. We can forget it and move on.” Taehyung displayed a weak smile. “We can start all over again.”

Ugh… sure… I mean… I don’t want to forget what happened before but I agree we can move on. I’m sorry.” Jeongguk said sincerely.

“I’m sorry too.” The elder smiled, this time for real. “By the way, how did you know I was going to be here today?”

“I might or might not have intercepted a phone call in my agent’s office and beg your agent to tell me where you were filming… so yeah.”

Taehyung giggled. “I didn’t know you were a fan of the show.”

“It’s not…” Jeongguk bit his inner cheek and remembered that part about honesty they had just agreed on. “It’s great, I watch it every week.”

“Spoiler alert.”

“Wait but did you die?”

“Find out in two weeks.”

Jeongguk shook his head but smiled in the end.

“So… since we’re done apologizing… is this alright? Will it be alright?” Jeongguk still sounded a bit concerned.

“Yeah, we can work it out. Just don’t do something stupid like falling for me or we’re going to end like that other couple.”

Taehyung didn’t know where that came from but it escaped his mouth before he thought well through it.

Jeongguk was startled and then he busted the most forced laughter in the world. “No, no, don’t worry. That’s not going to happen… it’s impossible. You and I? No, no way… not in a million years... not even if you were the last man on Earth…”

“Okay, I got it.” Taehyung said bitterly.

Jeongguk took a long sip of his drink and coughed.

“Does this mean we’ll meet soon to record more episodes?” The younger asked.

“Yes. You’ll get tired of seeing my face.”

Now, that was impossible.

Jeongguk bit his bottom lip once again.

“I’m glad plan A worked just well then. It’s difficult to say no to a food truck.”

“There was more than one plan?” Taehyung raised an eyebrow inquisitively. “What was plan B?”

“You don’t want to know… but anyway… since we’re here, not killing each other for a change and it’s all good… Oh God, this is going to be really cheesy but... This was supposed to be my plan C just in case… I thought you’d take pity on me or something if everything else failed.”

Jeongguk stood up and then kneeled on the floor.

Oh no.

He cleared his throat. “Kim Taehyung, will you do me the honor of  being my fake husband one more time?” He popped up a tiny box with a jewel-shaped ring pop –judging by the bright red color was either strawberry or cherry.

Thump-thump.

Thump-thump.

Thump-thump.

His heart beats were about to leave him deaf.

Something stupid, huh?

Something really stupid.