Jeon Jeongguk doesn't quite remember exactly when Kim Taehyung became the single brightest thing in his life.
He reckons it was a gradual process, something that happened slowly; from soft touches and glinting eyes, to midnight conversations and airy laughs — that turned into obnoxious fiery sparks beneath his skin.
It wasn't really a surprise. Taehyung has been a constant force almost throughout his entire life, having him as a neighbour when they were merely five years old. Jeongguk supposes it makes a lot of sense, for two young boys who grew up together to develop something, something that angles toward more.
The thing is, Jeongguk is absolutely sure he's the only one falling.
When Taehyung came out as gay a few years ago, excitement and expectation bloomed inside his chest, but rapidly died down when Taehyung started to openly talk about his crushes, which Jeongguk was genuinely happy about, but got him disappointed each time he realized Taehyung wasn't talking about him.
Jeongguk had made peace with it a long time ago, with the fact that it would never happen. He is undeniably out of his league anyway, so he resolved to loving Taehyung from afar. It hurts, sometimes, but Jeongguk just really loves Taehyung, so it's nothing he can't handle.
That is, until Taehyung starts talking to him about Spider-Man.
That makes everything so much harder.
Taehyung has his knees propped up closely to his chest, his eyes shining and teary, as they fixate on the laptop screen placed on Jeongguk's lap. The Notebook is one of Taehyung's favorite movies, always has been since he was a teen, and it admittedly had made Jeongguk jealous the first time they watched it together when Taehyung blatantly expressed his attraction for Ryan Gosling with suggestive remarks like look at his raw sexual magnetism, Guk or I'd seriously let him top me, Guk.
Jeongguk's ears turned red that day.
Still bitter with that old memory fresh on his mind, Jeongguk says teasingly. “I still don't find him hot.”
Taehyung gasps, hitting Jeongguk's arm.
“Rude! That's the love of my life you're talking about.”
It says a lot about Jeongguk's current (pining) situation when even that makes his chest boils with envy.
“You say that about every hot guy you see, hyung.”
Taehyung shrugs as if to say that's fair before turning on the television. The news channel is up and on the screen lies the so-called friendly neighborhood superhero, Spider-Man. It would be a shock a while ago to see the red masked man on the screen and realizing it's actually Jeongguk himself, if not for it happening daily for a few months now. He's grown accustomed to it.
“Oh! Shit, it's the other love of my life.” Taehyung chirps happily, dark eyes glinting as the light hits his face.
Now that's still very strange for Jeongguk to hear. To hear his best friend (that he's very much in love with) talk about Spider-Man (who is actually Jeongguk, but Taehyung has no clue) in a way that he's been dreaming of for what feels like decades. It sends a sharp sting to his chest, because as much as Taehyung loves Spider-Man, he would never love Jeongguk like that. Sometimes, he just wants the floor to swallow him whole.
Jeongguk must've made a face or something, because Taehyung scoffs lightly, his eyebrows furrowing on his forehead.
“Gukkie, why do you hate him so much?”
He has made himself clear on several occasions that he doesn't particularly like the superhero. It always raises curiosity to the older boy because Jeongguk still hasn't given any proper reason why he hates his guts, and Taehyung doesn't accept that.
“I don't hate him.” Jeongguk lies.
“You look like you want to attack the TV.”
Jeongguk should probably stop staring intently at it. It's also a little weird, since it's actually him behind the mask.
“I just don't know what you see in him.”
Taehyung shakes his head, but the corner of his lips curl in a teasing grin. “Guk-ah, are you jealous?”
Jeongguk wants to say: yes, yes I am. You're in love with Spider-Man, but not me. How am I supposed to deal with that, hyung?
Instead, he slaps Taehyung with the remote. “Hell, no.”
Taehyung coos and pinches his cheeks. “You know you'll always be my number one, Gukkie.”
It sends an uneasy shiver down his back. This is just how Taehyung is, treating him sweet and carefully, always with depth, a special kind of warmth he doesn’t carelessly give to anyone else. He knows this, knows that Taehyung loves him just as much, but it’s different. Taehyung doesn’t look at Jeongguk the way he looks at the moon, not with reverence, not with awe, nothing sort of the way Jeongguk looks at Taehyung, like he holds the entire world in his eyes.
“Yeah, right.” He says sarcastically, swatting Taehyung's hands away. “What if you two become friends? You would abandon me right away.”
Taehyung actually starts thinking about it. Sometimes he really is Jeongguk's pain in the ass.
“You know what, Guk? You are absolutely correct.”
Jeongguk slaps him with the remote again.
Having Taehyung as a roommate is both a blessing and a curse. Of course, Jeongguk is undeniably thankful to have him around all the time, and to be able to hang out and watch movies together every night. They also help each other out with assignments which is a win-win scenario, really.
The thing is, Taehyung has no shame whatsoever. Which is good for Taehyung, but not for Jeongguk's poor dick.
Jeongguk is innocently eating cereal by the kitchen when Taehyung appears out of the bathroom, still fresh and wet, hair sticking to his forehead, with a towel hanging loosely and dangerously low on his hips.
It shouldn’t fazed Jeongguk anymore, right, since he’s been dealing with this since he was a young homosexual? Wrong. Jeongguk is still very much sensitive with anything regarding Kim Taehyung and minimal clothing, especially when he’s right here, in the flesh, looking edible, but Jeongguk has to pretend he isn’t completely both in love and turned on at the same time.
“Did you make me breakfast, Guk?”
For someone as smart as Taehyung, he is completely oblivious. Jeongguk is still very surprised he hasn’t figured out that his best friend is harboring secret crush for years now.
“We have cereal.” Jeongguk says, nudging the cereal box to his direction. He swallows. “Please put a shirt on.”
Taehyung simply shrugs (the little shit), and gets a bowl to pour milk in. “We still have half an hour left. ‘M not rushing.”
“You’re going to get cold.” Jeongguk reasons, even though that is not his main concern. Please put a shirt on so I don’t pop a boner in front of you, hyung he wants to say, but thinks better off it. “And, you’re getting water everywhere.”
“You’re very whiny today.”
Jeongguk stops trying and sighs dejectedly. If he’s going get hard in the middle of the kitchen, then so be it. It’s entirely Taehyung’s fault. “When do your classes finish today?”
“Let’s see.” Taehyung has the spoon on his mouth, lips curving into a pout. This is exactly why it’s a curse to live with Taehyung. He’s just so effortlessly beautiful in everything he does. “Probably four? Five? Why?”
“Nothing.” Jeongguk shakes his head, eyes falling to Taehyung’s collarbones and the specks of water hovering there. It’s like art. Taehyung is art, his mind supplies helpfully, being the lovesick sap that he is. “Just wondering where you’d be.”
“Movie marathon at six?”
Jeongguk isn’t actually in the mood, but he can’t ever say no to Taehyung.
As it turns out, Jeongguk can’t make it at six.
Classes were already finished, thankfully, when his phone blared with the signature emergency ringtone, which indicates a crime is currently happening at a specific point in the city. The ringtone is specialized for Kim Namjoon, a friendly police officer who knows Jeongguk’s secret identity. They’ve been helping each other out since Spider-Man first surfaced.
“Downtown. Robbery.” Namjoon had said concisely, voice tinged with professionalism. There is something about Namjoon that makes him so admirable, a sense of leadership oozes out of him easily. Jeongguk wants to be like Namjoon one day.
He quickly texts Taehyung a short I’m sorry, something came up. Can’t make it. Tomorrow night?
Before he can feel guilty over it, he leaps out to the sky in a graceful jump.
“Where did you go?”
Taehyung’s prying eyes are already on him and Jeongguk hasn’t even been in their dorm for a second. He’s sitting on the sofa, but his body is completely angled to the door. He looks like he’s been waiting for Jeongguk.
“Uh,” He’s always been a bad liar since he was a little kid, and it still carries on now. Lies have never passed through his mouth easily, billions of thoughts conflicting through his mind. “I was with, uh, Yoongi-hyung?”
That was a decent lie. Taehyung knows Jeongguk is in the dance club, and Yoongi is one of the members.
“You didn’t tell me you had practice today.”
This is the only part he doesn’t like about being Spider-Man. All the lies he build surrounding the two of them, making him suffocate.
There is a solid reason why he hasn’t told Taehyung about his secret identity. Namjoon was the first to know, and even that was an accident, and Jeongguk hadn’t plan for it to happen. He is a close family friend. Both of their families had a vacation together to an island a few months ago. Jeongguk, being the dumbass that he is, had suggested to stroll around the thick, ominous forest. A radioactive spider had unexpectedly bitten him, and the sting had really hurt, like tiny specks of fire burning on his skin. The older man was there throughout the entire journey of the whole effects from the spider unfolding, and it’s not like Jeongguk could lie to him as Namjoon had witnessed everything firsthand.
When Spider-Man was first created and he started helping crimes, Namjoon told him it would be better to keep it a secret. He had said that they had no way of knowing who would intentionally hurt him. A superhero’s close ones will always be a leverage, and Namjoon thought that concealing his identity entirely from everyone else would be for the best.
Jeongguk wanted to tell Taehyung. He really did. Taehyung knows everything about him. It would be weird for him to not know about the single life-changing thing that happened to him recently. But as much as he wanted to deny it, he knew Namjoon was right.
“I didn’t know too. He just needed to teach me some more dance moves for the upcoming showcase.”
Taehyung apparently accepts that as the answer and nods understandingly. The showcase wasn’t a lie, it will be held at the end of the year.
Jeongguk walks over and puts his heavy bag on the floor. He scoots over and presses his entire side to Taehyung’s, immediately feeling comfortable and at ease. The robbery wasn’t particularly difficult to dissolve, but it was still stressful, especially combined with the pressure of school. Jeongguk wants to rest, but juggling to be both a superhero and a model student, has really taken a toll on him.
Taehyung’s hand come to tangled on Jeongguk’s hair and rest on his scalp, slender fingers massaging the tension and knot on his skin. Relief immediately washes over him, his shoulders slumping relaxingly against the sofa. Jeongguk can honestly stay like this forever.
“Feels nice, Guk-ah?”
Taehyung keeps doing just that for a few minutes, the silence enveloping them both. It has always been comfortable, being in silence with Taehyung. It has never felt uneasy, only peaceful and at home. Taehyung is Jeongguk’s home for as long as he can remembers. No matter where he goes, Taehyung is what he calls home, the one name that his heart calls for.
Jeongguk’s heart aches with it. He wants Taehyung to know that, wants him to know just how much he’s loved by Jeongguk. It’s hard to hold back, sometimes, to restraint himself from simply brushing the loose strands of hair from Taehyung’s forehead or rub his back soothingly on a rough day. Jeongguk knows Taehyung wouldn’t mind and would see it simply as a friendly gesture, but he’s not sure his heart can ever handle it, handle the simplicity of it all and still only being seen as a best friend, so he puts all of his feelings in check and clasp his hands together whenever Taehyung’s around.
“Do you want to hear about my day?” Taehyung finally breaks the silence, and his hands have traveled to Jeongguk’s tense shoulders. His touches feel heavenly.
So, Taehyung rambles for a long time. He talks about his classes, the lecturers, even about his (other) best friend, Park Jimin. It is always nice to listen to him talk, especially because Taehyung is so endearing. He’s carefree and sweet, his words are never mean, and his eyes are the softest shade of brown Jeongguk has ever seen.
Jeon Jeongguk is in love with Kim Taehyung, and quite frankly, he doesn’t know what to do with it.
“I don’t know what to do with it.”
“About your crush on Taehyung or the fact that he doesn’t know you’re Spider-Man?”
“Tone it down!”
“I was just asking and nobody’s even here, Guk.”
Min Yoongi is always blatantly honest. Jeongguk is exasperated.
They’re at the dance studio alone, the loud music slowly dying down. Sweat is dripping down his cheeks, shirt sticking to the skin grossly. He wants to go home, but he needs to get it out of his chest first, before he inevitably explodes from stress.
“Both.” He says after a moment.
Yoongi is still trying to catch his breath, his back resting on the mirror, legs stretching out in front of him. His black beanie is covering most of his forehead, and he may actually look cute if his eyes don’t glazed over darkly like that.
“Hyung. Why do you look like that?”
“Like you want to murder me.”
A heavy sigh. “I’m breathing. Wait a second, Guk.”
Jeongguk is restless because he can’t stop thinking about Taehyung. That has been his sole problem since the last few years, but it has only been intensified ever since he became a literal superhero.
The only reason why Yoongi knows is because of the incident a while back. Jeongguk had just been fighting criminals and was injured. Nothing serious, but he was too tired to go back to the dorm, and the studio was closer. The thing is, he didn’t expect for anyone to be in it.
Yoongi was understanding, and even tended his wounds. They don’t even talk about it now unless they really have to. He never starts conversations about Spider-Man, unless Jeongguk brings it up first, and Jeongguk loves him for it.
“I thought Taehyung is in love with Spider-Kid.”
“Spider-Man.” He hisses, mildly offended. “And yes. Yes, he is.”
“That’s you, isn’t it?”
“But Taehyung doesn’t know that!”
“It has to mean something though, right?” Yoongi raises his brows, looking intimidating and wise at the same time. How he does that, Jeongguk will never know. “If he sees something in Spider-Man, that has to mean he sees something in you too.”
Jeongguk contemplates that for a second. Taehyung doesn’t see him in that way, and even in an absurd scenario where Taehyung knows about his identity, he doesn’t want Taehyung to start developing feelings only because he is aware Jeongguk’s the superhero. That wouldn’t be genuine.
“It doesn’t make sense. Taehyung sees me as his little brother.”
They both wince at the implication.
“Never say that again.”
“Roger that, hyung.”
Yoongi looks tired. He pinches the bridge of his nose before uttering, “Okay, hear me out. Talk to him about it. Ask him why he likes Spider-Man. I’m sure you’ll get the answer you’re looking for.”
Jeongguk doesn’t know what answer Yoongi’s talking about, but he nods anyway.
“Why do you like Spider-Man?”
Taehyung looks surprised, like he hadn’t expected such a question. They are on the sofa as usual, and Jeongguk has his head on Taehyung’s lap, the older boy’s hand playing with Jeongguk’s messy hair. Jeongguk has the best view in town, observing every little flicks and changes on Taehyung’s expression.
Right now, his eyes are wide and round, lips pressed together in a tight line.
“What.” He says flatly. “Are you feeling okay, Guk?”
“What do you mean? Of course I’m okay.”
“You literally hate him.” Taehyung reminds him. Jeongguk grimaces.
“Yes.” He starts, leaning deeper in his embrace, fingers splaying on Taehyung’s exposed knee. “That’s why I’m asking you. I think I have been really hard on him.”
Taehyung blinks. “Are you serious? Every time I talk about him, every time I even mention him, you look like you are ready to throw hands.”
“Yes. That’s why I want to give him a chance.”
Taehyung is clearly happy with this, his lips now upturned in a smile. Jeongguk is so in love with him.
“Okay! This is exciting. Where do I start?” He hums, untangling his hand from Jeongguk’s hair (which Jeongguk does not almost whine about) and shows his pointer finger before poking Jeongguk’s cheek with it. “First of all, his heart. Have you seen the boy, Guk? He’s so full of love. Do you remember the day he saved someone from getting bullied? There was this poor kid and he was surrounded by three other boys in an alleyway—and Spider-Man webbed them to the wall and literally force them to apologize to the kid.”
Jeongguk remembers. He was furious that day, the incident reminded him of his (or more so, Taehyung’s) childhood.
“There was a news reporter nearby, and he told the camera hello, guys! Don’t be jerks and please be nice to other people, or I will personally attack you. Okay. That’s it. Have a nice day! And then he flew away.” Taehyung’s whole face lights up and it’s really fucking adorable. Jeongguk wants to die. “Obviously, the boy’s got a big ass heart. That’s what my future boyfriend has to have first and foremost.”
Jeongguk presses his face harder on Taehyung’s thigh. He’s embarrassed. Taehyung is complimenting him and he doesn’t even know it. This is all embarrassing.
“Second of all,” Taehyung adds his middle finger, the back of the raised hand patting Jeongguk’s arm repeatedly for emphasis. “Have you seen his body?”
Jeongguk almost chokes. “What.”
“Okay. I’m not being vain here. There’s a reason why I put his heart first.” Taehyung explains seriously, his eyebrows furrowing together in concentration. “But, Guk! Have you seen him in the suit? He looks fucking fit.”
“Don’t even get me started with his thighs! Do you know how many times I jerk off to those godly thighs?”
Jeongguk coughs loudly, his face is on fire. What the actual fuck, Taehyung.
Did he actually just say that?
Oh, my God. Jeongguk is seriously going to die.
Taehyung, seemingly oblivious to Jeongguk and his state of being, continues to ramble. “Sorry. Inappropriate? I don’t care. You asked the question, and now you need to face the consequences. Where was I? Oh, yeah. Godly thighs.”
“His thighs, Guk! I want him to end me. I’m not going to lie, Guk. I would absolutely let him wreck me.”
Jeongguk immediately sits up straight, and the only thing he wants right now is to be far away from Taehyung as possible. Also preferably from Taehyung’s dick, as his face was literally on his lap a few seconds before.
“So, to sum it up. I love his heart and his thighs. Does that answer your question?”
Jeongguk’s mouth suddenly feels dry. He doesn’t know what to think, or how he can ever possibly process the information that Taehyung likes his thighs.
“Do you really jerk off to his thighs?” He lets the question out before he can stop himself. He’s curious, okay. Give him a break. He had just discovered his lifelong crush likes his thighs.
“Yes. Yes, I do.” Taehyung simply nods, as if this whole thing wasn’t a huge revelation. To make it worse, he actually looks innocent.
Jeongguk is going to kill Yoongi.
“He told me he likes my thighs. Well, Spider-Man’s, but that’s me, so.”
Yoongi looks like he’s having a stroke. His expression doesn’t waver, but there’s a slight disgust flashing through his eyes. “I don’t want to talk to you ever again.”
“Hyung! It was your idea.”
Yoongi deadpans, knocking his head back against the mirror. “I regret my life choices.”
Jeongguk sits beside him. He honestly can relate to that.
Jeongguk promised himself that he wouldn’t meddle Spider-Man with Kim Taehyung, especially because he has the prior knowledge of Taehyung’s undying love for the superhero. It wouldn’t be fair, and it would be the same as taking advantage, and the last thing Jeongguk wants to do is hurt him or betray his trust.
Fate seems to have other plans, though.
It’s Saturday morning and Jeongguk is having a blast. There isn’t any crime for him to break, or any beggars or thieves he needs to put in place, so he’s just casually flinging through the buildings and busy streets, feeling the wind cool on his face. It feels liberating, as if the usual constraints on his hands are finally unbinding, and the weight on his chest loosening. Jeongguk can do this forever if he can.
People wave at him, a portion of them greeting him kindly with bright smiles on their faces, the other indignant or couldn’t care less. Jeongguk doesn’t really bother. He loves helping people, and if a few assholes can’t comprehend that Spider-Man isn’t a threat to the city, that’s not his problem.
He’s swinging by the dorm, right on Jeongguk and Taehyung’s shared room as he hears a familiar scream along with a loud thud. Just the mere thought of Taehyung being in danger throws all his rational thoughts away (and he can’t even remember that Spider-Man is not supposed to meet Taehyung), so he moves by instinct and quickly leaps inside the open window by the kitchen.
Relief instantly washes over him when he vaguely spots Taehyung in the kitchen in his pajamas, and as Jeongguk’s about to look for the impendent danger, he stops in his track when he sees Taehyung’s face.
Taehyung looks shocked, and it’s almost comical if not for the current situation.
His hair is askew, like he’s just woken up (Jeongguk supposes he really had just woken up as he remembers Taehyung’s room was still locked when he got out of his room in the red suit), mouth agape and jaw slacked. His eyes are wide in bewilderment, and his hands are frozen in space as he catches sight of the superhero.
Jeongguk doesn’t know what to do. It’s one thing to be Spider-Man and solidify the mask that hides the person inside where he can freely put on a façade, but not in front of Taehyung, his best friend for almost his entire life, and he can feel the persona melts under his fingertips.
“Uh,” he starts. “Are you okay? I heard someone screaming.”
Taehyung is motionless, and it’s weird, because he’s usually a static, something that moves in a rate Jeongguk can’t even keep up with. He’s full of expressions and flailing arms, and to see him like this is a rarity.
Pride swells inside his chest, to rise such a reaction on Taehyung, but Jeongguk has to remind himself that Taehyung doesn’t know it’s Jeongguk behind the mask.
Why can’t Spider-Man be Jeongguk’s entire identity instead? Why does he have to experience being seen like this by Taehyung but not as Jeongguk?
This is cruel.
“Oh. My. God.” Taehyung is screaming now, the contained explosions now uncontrollably out. “OH MY GOD. AM I DREAMING? Am I hallucinating? I’m going to die—”
“Are you okay?” Jeongguk cuts him off, because he feels his face burning with shame. “No, you’re not dreaming or halluciating. You’re also not going to die. Please stop freaking out.”
“Oh, thank God.” Taehyung is finally breathing, but his eyes are still huge and shining. He looks at Jeongguk like he can’t believe what he’s seeing, his mouth open once again. He looks unsure but shocked, putting his hands in front of him like a shield. “Mister Spider-Man, the mighty hero, my hero—”
“No, hear me out!” Taehyung says stubbornly. Jeongguk obliges, still awkwardly standing there with a Freaked Out Taehyung blabbering in front of him. “I know this is weird, but you are actually my hero. I need to let you know because I may not ever see you again since you’re a superhero and all, but sir, you inspire me every day. I want to be better because of you.”
Taehyung is sincere. Even if Jeongguk didn’t know who Taehyung is to the core, he would’ve still see the genuineness those eyes bring, the honesty of every words hitting him like bricks.
“I.” Jeongguk starts, but he doesn’t know what to say next. It’s all overwhelming, to say the least, to be in the presence of Taehyung, but the other boy doesn’t know. It’s also a little heartbreaking to see Taehyung looking at him with such adoration, but it’s not for Jeongguk. “Thank you.”
Taehyung beams at that, his whole face lighting up. That’s. That’s why Jeongguk fell in love with him, for Taehyung resembles the sun. His body is aching with it again, with the love he’s suppressed for the majority of his life. Jeongguk wants, but he knows he’s not allowed.
“Okay. Now that that’s out of the way, my name is Kim Taehyung!” he cheerily introduces himself, looking confident, as if he wasn’t literally freaking out just a moment before. He reaches out and extends his hand.
Jeongguk looks at the hand dumbly, but takes it anyway, his mind in a haze.
“Well. You know who I am.”
“Can we be friends?” Taehyung says.
Before Jeongguk can say no, or to think about it first, the look on Taehyung’s face immediately made up his mind.
Jeongguk still doesn’t know why Taehyung screamed.
(It turns out, he accidentally caught his shirt on fire)
The second time they meet, it is when Jeongguk had just finished fighting off some pickpockets. The suit is getting uncomfortably hot on his skin, and he wants to go back to the dorm and sleep. He hasn’t been getting much of that lately. He’s really behind with school, and has been trying his ass off to do his assignments late at night when the city is quiet. Jeongguk notices the dark circles under his eyes, the hollowness of his cheeks more apparent.
The worst of it all is, he rarely sees Taehyung now. Of course, they’re roommates, and Jeongguk does get glimpses of Taehyung every now and then during the mornings and before he locks himself in his room, but that’s about it. He misses his best friend, and the stress is dragging him down.
Jeongguk is about to takes off his mask and change back to his regular clothes as he finally lands on the dark alleyway, when he catches sight of a familiar shadow lurking in the corner.
He didn’t expect it to be Taehyung, it would’ve been more reasonable for it to be anybody else in the city, but it’s his best friend, here, in his hiding spot, and Jeongguk doesn’t know what to think.
“What are you doing?”
Taehyung turns around then, and his eyes are wide again, exactly as they were a few weeks ago in their dorm. He looks surprised, his arms reflexively flailing wild, before he registers that it’s just Spider-Man, and he relaxes almost immediately.
“Oh. It’s you.” He’s a little breathless, and again, Jeongguk doesn’t know what to think.
“Hello, Kim Taehyung.”
Taehyung smiles brightly, his eyes are soft and friendly. He waves his hand innocently. “Hello, Spider-Man.”
“So. What are you doing here?”
“Oh. I saw a cute cat ran here. It got away, though.”
That sounds like what Taehyung would do.
After a beat, Taehyung says. “You remember me.”
“You remember my name.”
Jeongguk nods. How could anyone have possibly forgotten Taehyung? “Of course I do.”
Taehyung chuckles, and he sounds happy. Jeongguk wishes he can make him this happy.
“I’m glad we meet again.” He says, crossing his arms across his chest. He’s staring now, deeply and with interest. Jeongguk feels naked, as if Taehyung is figuring him out. “You know, you said we could be friends but you didn’t visit me again.”
“You want me to visit you?”
“Yes. Yes, of course?” Taehyung answers with a perplexed look on his face. “After all, I kind of lost my best friend.”
Jeongguk’s heart falls, alarmed. “What do you mean?”
“He’s really busy.” Taehyung sighs. “I know school is really stressing him out, but I barely see him anymore, you know? I would’ve loved for him to just barge in my room once in a while. I really wouldn’t mind. But he’s just distant. He’s keeping something from me, and I wonder if it’s my fault that he feels like he can’t reach out.”
Jeongguk is absolutely dumbfounded. First of all, Taehyung is really open and honest, even to Spider-Man. That is endearing, if not a little weird — only because Taehyung is so trusting, and Jeongguk can’t relate to the same sentiment, his mind always a whirldwind and on alert.
Second of all, Jeongguk has absolutely no idea Taehyung is feeling this way, and he feels guilty of being such a terrible best friend. He should’ve known. He had been too wrapped up with his own emotions, he didn’t have a clue what Taehyung must’ve felt and thought about the situation.
“I’m so—He’s sorry.” Jeongguk says finally, after a beat of silence. “I’m sure he’s sorry.”
“Maybe. I just wish I hear it from him.”
That’s the thing. Jeongguk is the one saying sorry, but Taehyung doesn’t know.
That night, Jeongguk knocks on Taehyung’s door. He’s nervous, his palms sweating and jittery. This isn’t a big deal, he knows, but he can’t help but feel defeated already.
When the door opens, he’s faced with a confused looking Taehyung; his light hair tousled, eyebrows furrowed, and bright pink lips frowning.
Jeongguk thinks he looks beautiful, but that’s nothing new.
“Yeah. May I come in?”
As an answer, he opens the door wider and lets Jeongguk in. When Taehyung sits on the bed, Jeongguk doesn’t want to think about anything else and plops himself onto him, his shoulder nuzzling Taehyung’s collarbone, the familiar scent of him feels like home.
Jeongguk hasn’t felt at home for a while now. This is what he needed for a long time.
“Oh. Hey, hey.” Taehyung’s voice is soft and smooth, like everything Jeongguk has ever wanted. “What’s up? Are you okay?”
Jeongguk slowly shakes his head.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
Jeongguk shakes his head again.
“Okay, Gukkie.” Taehyung has his hands on Jeongguk’s scalp, tangling on his hair, just the way Jeongguk likes. “I got you.”
Jeongguk lets himself have this—have Taehyung. He’s so in love and it hurts everywhere, the weight of it heavy and hard on his chest. He wants and wants and wants and it gets harder for him to breathe. He just wants to rest. He doesn’t want to be Spider-Man anymore. He wants to be a simple Jeon Jeongguk, without the entire city resting brittle on his shoulders.
He wants to feel normal again.
“I love you, Guk-ah.”
And that’s so much more painful than Jeongguk has ever thought it would be, because Taehyung doesn’t love him like that. That sentence is everything Jeongguk would have ever needed, something he would consider a lifeline, something that he would hold on to when he feels a little lost. Jeongguk wants Taehyung to love him back, wants him to feel the same warmth that Jeongguk has felt ever since he knew what it meant to be young and what it meant to long for someone.
(Jeongguk doesn’t know a world in which love doesn’t feel like Taehyung in his mouth)
Jeongguk cries then, Taehyung’s even breaths relaxing him to sleep.
“What is up with you, Guk?”
Namjoon is sitting calmly by his desk at the police station, but his eyes are intent on Jeongguk’s jittery figure. Jeongguk has expected for the elder to notice it right away, so the question doesn’t come as a surprise.
Jeongguk doesn’t answer it immediately, taking his time to mull it over his head and finding the right words to say. When he still can’t see straight, he sighs and pops another question.
“Have you always been in love with Seokjin-hyung?”
Namjoon looks surprised, eyes flicking to the bustling civilians passing by. “What?”
“Have you always been in love with Seokjin-hyung? Like, from the start? Before you guys got together?”
Namjoon is staring at him openly, like he’s trying to figure out why Jeongguk suddenly has an interest in his love life. He doesn’t budge, though, and lets out a sigh before opening his mouth.
“Yes, I have.” He answers then, and for a second, Jeongguk sees something warm flashing through his eyes. “It’s always been him for me. I have always felt it in my heart.”
“How did you find the courage to tell him?”
“I did it because I couldn’t bear holding it inside anymore. I did it for myself, first.”
Jeongguk nods. He thinks he understands.
“Is this about Taehyung?”
Jeongguk doesn’t bother denying it. “Yes.”
It has always been about Taehyung.
Spider-Man meets Taehyung again a week after that.
Taehyung finds him first, waiting for the superhero to come by at the alleyway where they met the second time. This time, though, Taehyung looks sad—the brightness in his eyes dimmed, and a frown on his lips.
Jeongguk is immediately alert. “Hyung? What’s wrong?”
“I don’t know who else to go to.” Taehyung looks like he’s been crying. Jeongguk feels his heart shattering. “Can I go with you? Please? I know this is silly—”
“Okay.” Jeongguk doesn’t have to think twice. When it’s about and for Taehyung, Jeongguk doesn’t ever have to think twice.
“Yeah.” Jeongguk comes closer, extending his hand, mirroring what Taehyung had done in their dorm. “Can you hold on?”
With Taehyung’s grip on his shoulders, and Jeongguk’s on his waist, they leap into the sky.
They sit by a random building’s rooftop, feet dangling over. Jeongguk hasn’t been afraid of height ever since he started being Spider-Man, but it’s weird to see Taehyung being so casual about it, as if he wouldn’t fallen to his death just from a wrong move. When Jeongguk mentions this to him, Taehyung just smiles and says well, I have you to save me, don’t I?
“Are you okay?”
Taehyung scoffs at that, but there isn’t malice behind it. He gazes toward the horizon, the beautiful spectrum of colors adorning the sky. “I don’t think so.”
Jeongguk feels guilty again. He hasn’t been around much, and it’s entirely his fault. Yes, he knows it’s actually Spider-Man’s, but Jeongguk hasn’t been completely innocent, either. Some parts of him are purposely ignoring Taehyung, and he has no excuse except that he’s so in love he can’t bear it anymore.
“How’s your friend?”
“He came to my room many nights ago, and I thought we’d finally be okay. But he grew distant again. I asked him about it but he never really answered. I just want to know what I’m doing wrong.” Taehyung wipes a hand at his face tiredly. “I really miss him, you know.”
Jeongguk stills his shaking hands beneath his thighs. “He misses you, too.”
“I hope so.”
Jeongguk feels Taehyung tensed beside him, like he’s dreading something.
“I’m in love.” Taehyung says.
Jeongguk’s whole world stops, and his breath hitches on his throat.
Is this supposed to feel like this?
Like. Like he can’t breathe?
He doesn’t want to hear it. He doesn’t even want to ask who it is. It’s probably a guy in his class. Or maybe, someone older than them. Either way, Jeongguk doesn’t want to know.
“You are?” Jeongguk says through gritted teeth, tears welling up in his eyes.
“Yeah, I am.” Taehyung smiles at him. “He’s my best friend. It’s hard not to, you know? He’s just so beautiful in everything that he does. But I. Yeah. I really love him.”
Oh. Realization hits Jeongguk. Taehyung is talking about Park Jimin.
The rest of the evening blurs painfully into the night, anything else besides Taehyung doesn’t love you back becomes a dull thrumming inside his head.
“He’s probably seeing someone.”
“Jeongguk?” Jimin asks.
“I’m still in love with him, Chim.” Taehyung sighs dejectedly. “I don’t know how to stop.”
Jimin doesn’t look surprised in the least. “When have you not loved him?”
“When I was a fetus, probably.” Taehyung snorts, smacking Jimin hard on his arm.
“Why do you think he’s seeing someone?”
“Doesn’t it make sense, though? He’s being secretive, and I keep seeing bruises, well—hickeys on his body.” Taehyung shudders, the heat of jealousy growing in his stomach. “The boy thinks he’s slick, but I’ve seen him sneak out the dorm in a rush several times before. I just don’t understand why he’s being weird about it. Is he ashamed of his partner? Why would he? Also, why is he keeping secrets from me?”
Jimin takes a break from painting Taehyung’s toenails to look at him in the face. He looks like he’s thinking. Taehyung is really grateful for Jimin—God knows how many times he had to deal with Taehyung’s rants about Jeongguk. It must be tiring.
“Aren’t you seeing Spider-Man?”
“I’m not seeing Spider-Man. We’re seeing each other in the most basic meaning of the word.”
“Whatever.” Jimin huffs. “Maybe you should date Spider-Man instead, so I don’t have to hear about your lame pining over Jeongguk ever again.”
“That’s not the same thing!”
“He’s in love with Park Jimin.”
Yoongi loses his balance at that, his feet knock with each other until he falls to the ground with a thud.
“Hyung! Are you okay—”
“What did you say?”
“I said he’s in love with Park Jimin.”
“Who are you talking about?”
Yoongi has an unreadable expression on his face. He takes his time to grab his water bottle and drinks the entirety of it before he looks back at Jeongguk.
“Taehyung is in love with Jimin?” Yoongi asks incredulously. Jeongguk nods. “Well, that is strange, then.”
“Taehyung set me up with Jimin. He and I are seeing each other.”
Jeongguk has to process that information first before a frown breaks on his face. “Huh.”
“Yeah, he did.” Yoongi sits beside him by the mirror, his eyes dark. “It’s either he’s a really, really good friend to set up someone he’s in love with, or you’re wrong about that.”
“No.” Jeongguk shakes his head, confused. “It must be Jimin.”
“Taehyung is just a really good friend, then.”
“How are things with Jimin-hyung?”
Taehyung looks taken back, his mouth agape, the chips he was chewing falling back to his lap. It should be funny, but Jeongguk is too damn curious to care. He just has to know—if Taehyung is okay, if he’s not hurting. His own feelings aside, Jeongguk would never wish Taehyung to be in pain, especially now knowing Jimin is with Yoongi.
“Jimin?” Taehyung repeats, dumbfounded.
“What do you mean?”
“Like,” Jeongguk scratches the back of his head, his eyes roaming around the room; conflicted. How does he exactly convey this into a question? “… Are you guys okay?”
“Of course.” Taehyung’s thick brows are furrowed. “Why wouldn’t we be?”
Jeongguk wants to say: I’m in love with you, hyung. But — am I allowed to love you? Even if you love someone else?
“Nothing. I just – want you to be happy, hyung.” Jeongguk says instead, staring at Taehyung’s bare face. He looks beautiful, as usual, but something shifts there — in his round eyes, the way they shine brightly under Jeongguk’s gaze, something soft and warm, something that sends shiver down his spine. Jeongguk has always loved Taehyung and it has always been an overwhelming feeling, a weight on his chest that makes his head spin — but right now, as he looks at Taehyung and the corner of his lips, Jeongguk doesn’t want to consider it as weight anymore.
Jeongguk loves Taehyung and he wonders if it will ever be enough, if this will ever be enough. He has kept his mouth shut for a decade; will he be able to hold it in for another?
Jeongguk would do anything for Taehyung. Anything. He’d carry the whole sun if it means Taehyung gets to be warm forever.
“I want you to be happy too, Guk-ah.”
The thing is, Jeongguk will never be – not when Taehyung is here in the flesh but so, so out of reach.
“May I talk about him? My best friend, the roommate?”
The sun is still out — specks of gold adorning the pale sky. It looks beautiful by the rooftop, but Jeongguk stares at Taehyung instead.
Jeongguk is in the suit, the mask concealing his identity. He still finds it weird, to talk to Taehyung when he’s Spider-Man, but he can clearly tell that it makes Taehyung happy. Jeongguk will do anything to keep that smile on Taehyung’s face.
Beside him, Taehyung sighs – a long dragged out one, like he’s bracing himself, as if he’s anticipating something.
“I don’t even know where to start, honestly. He’s just being… really weird.”
“I know he’s hiding something. Hiding something from me, but I can also tell it’s dragging him down. I don’t know how to phrase it better, but I can see the weight on his shoulders. The way he carries himself now. Something happened to him, I think. I just can’t figure out why he doesn’t want to tell me. Or, why he’s shutting me out.”
Jeongguk doesn’t know what to say to that. When he still doesn’t reply, Taehyung continues.
“He also looks at me like he’s going to lose me. Like I would disappear into thin air if he looks away. It’s heartbreaking how he just look so sad all the time, now.”
Jeongguk still doesn’t say anything. It’s strange to hear Taehyung talk about Jeongguk like that. Jeongguk knew Taehyung is able to read him like an open book, his feelings have always been etched on his face for Taehyung to see – but never did he think was he this open, this vulnerable in front of Taehyung.
Taehyung doesn’t mind the silence, so he speaks out again.
“How about you? Do you have someone in your life?”
Jeongguk fiddles with his fingers, before sighing with a lump on his throat. “Short answer is, no. I don’t.”
“Really? Spider-Man doesn’t have a special girl?” Taehyung controts his face, like he’s eaten something sour. “Shit. I didn’t mean to assume, sorry. Or a special boy?”
“It’s, uh—” Jeongguk clears his throat, focusing his gaze on the mole on Taehyung’s nose. “It’s a special boy.”
“Oh. Cool. So, long answer?”
“I’m in love with my best friend.” Jeongguk says it with ease, the truth spilling out from his mouth freely, as if it isn’t his truth to share. Sometimes, he thinks it’s universally known, that he’s in love with Taehyung. That he doesn’t have to declare it loudly for it to be heard. “Have been, for almost my whole entire life.”
“Whoa.” Beside him, Taehyung stills. “That must be tough.”
“It is. There are times when I wish I could just tell him, you know?” Like right now, Jeongguk wants to say. Right now when the sky is beautiful but I don’t want to look at it. Like right now, where I can see the hard ridges on your fingers, and your acne spots, and yet you’re still the only thing I want to look at. Instead, he says: “But, I know I can’t. Ever tell him how I feel.”
And, it stings. It stings when Jeongguk opens his mouth to say it, when he places the sentence on his tongue. “He’s in love with someone else.”
“Oh, spidey.” Taehyung puts his hand over Jeongguk’s. He shivers. “Don’t worry, he’s an idiot, then. Anyone would be lucky to have you.”
“I know it’s not the same, but I’m right here.” Taehyung squeezes his hand tightly. “Whatever and whenever you need.”
Jeongguk wants to cry, but he laughs because he loves Taehyung and he knows he will never stop. “You’re exactly what I need, Taehyung.”
“The Notebook again?”
Taehyung has his feet sprawled long on the table, the bowl of popcorn on his lap. Jeongguk is tucked against his side, feeling warm and fuzzy but still too afraid to touch, still afraid to feel Taehyung’s warmth on his skin. He’s not trying to move on, doesn’t think he would ever be able to even if he tried, but he’s trying his best to keep his feelings in check. One day, his love for Taehyung would be an overflowing dam and Jeongguk doesn’t want to break.
“Yeah. I miss Ryan Gosling.”
Taehyung gives him that boxy smile. The smile that Jeongguk has become familiar with for the past decade, the smile that never fails to falters his heartbeat into a messy, sporadic mess. Jeongguk smiles, and it’s genuine. Jeongguk loves Taehyung, and he shouldn’t be afraid of that.
“Well, shit. Because I don’t.” Jeongguk says, the bitterness apparent on his tongue. Taehyung catches it and grins wider.
“That sounds like a you problem.”
An hour later, when the movie is still as boring as he remembers (it’s not that he hates it, he actually thinks it’s decent enough, it’s just Taehyung has made him watched this so many times he’s got all the lines memorized, every bit of the actors’ expression burned to the back of his mind), Taehyung looks at Jeongguk straight in the eyes.
Taehyung looks beautiful like this, with the light on his bare face, the rosy shade of his cheeks. He looks ethereal, and Jeongguk has never been able to look away.
His eyes are shining.
“I love you, Guk-ah.” Taehyung says, softly – Jeongguk almost doesn’t hear it. He’s still looking at Jeongguk, like he’s expecting something, like he’s expecting an answer, but it was never a question to begin with. Jeongguk loves Taehyung, as simple as the word entails. As fiercely as the word expects. Jeongguk stays silent, his heart hurting. He wants to hear it from Taehyung (always wants to hear those words from Taehyung, but not like this, not as a best friend and not in different context than what he has in mind). Before Jeongguk can say anything, Taehyung asks: “Do you love me?”
Jeongguk wants to laugh, wants to say of course, you dumbass, wants to say I love you so much my ribcage hurts at night, wants to say I’d give you the moon if you let me, but instead, he smiles. And he looks at Taehyung. Taehyung, who looks beautiful even when his face is illuminated by the crappy lighting of the laptop, and still; he manages to take Jeongguk’s breath away like no one else.
“I always have.”
“Jimin, I can’t handle it.”
Taehyung sighs into Jimin’s shoulder, his eyes stinging and his heart constricting harshly against the press of their bodies together.
“I love him. I love him. I need to tell him, Jimin-ah.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah.” Taehyung nods, his hair that’s sticking off his forehead poking his eye. “I tell him all the time, but he doesnt understand what I mean. He doesn’t understand that I love him, but it’s different. It’s not I love you as in I love you because you’re my best friend and I’m kind of obligated to platonically love you but it’s more of I love you as in I’ve been in love with you for years and you’re my first love and I can’t bear hiding it anymore.”
“I know, baby.”
“I don’t care anymore, honestly.” Taehyung lets his eyes shut, dropping his head on Jimin’s chest. Jimin pats him soothingly on the back. “I don’t care if he doesn’t feel the same. I don’t care if he’s seeing someone. I just need to tell him. To get it out. I won’t expect anything out of it.”
“I’m proud of you.” Jimin says right on his ear. It tickles a little bit, and Taehyung laughs, the sound resounding on his chest. “You know that I’ll be right here with you until the end, right?”
“Of course. You’re forever stuck with me.”
“I’m happy with that.”
Jeongguk is breathing harshly, his backpack meeting the floor in a loud thud. He snakes his hand past his hair, wiping sweat off his forehead. He was about to go back past the door when he hears that familiar voice, Taehyung’s, and he turns around to see his figure standing awkwardly right beside the couch with both his hands in the pocket of his hoodie.
Taehyung looks sheepish, and he looks handsome, as usual, but Jeongguk doesn’t have the time. There’s a live roberry going on right now, Namjoon’s frantic voice still ringing on his ears. He’s fidgety, hands tangling with each other, his heartbeat hard and fast against his chest.
All he can think about is the lives he needs to save, and the blood he needs to prevent. He loves being Spider-Man, but this is the part he hates the most, the responsibility, the threat dangling on his fingertips, the promise to the city a heavy weight hovering above his head.
“I need to tell you something, Guk—”
“I’m sorry.” Jeongguk cuts him off quickly, because he knows he won’t say no to whatever Taehyung’s about to say, and he really needs to go now. The clock is ticking and Jeongguk is terrified. “But I really need to go, hyung.”
“What? You just got home.” Taehyung looks wounded, but also confused, his eyebrows furrowed deeply, a pout curled on his lips. It pains Jeongguk to see him like this, but he can’t do this, not right now, not when people’s lives are in danger.
“I know, but I really need to—” Before Jeongguk can think of an excuse, a reasonable lie, Taehyung cuts him off in a soft, small voice. Jeongguk sees hurt and pain flashing through Taehyung’s eyes, but he doesn’t know why they’re there.
“Is it the person you’re dating?”
“Are you going to see them?”
Jeongguk blanches, so confused he almost trips on his own feet. “What are you talking about?”
“It’s okay.” Through Taehyung’s oversized hoodie, Jeongguk can see his shoulders slump. Can see the absolute resolute on his face. Can see the way his hands are now untangled and placed idly on the side of his body, like he doesn’t quite know what to do with them. “I know. You don’t have to hide it.”
Jeongguk doesn’t understand. He wants to, wants to understand why Taehyung looks so dejected, why he looks upset, sadness so ingrained in his frame, it makes Jeongguk wells up. Jeongguk wants so understand so badly, but he doesn’t have time, so all he says is: “Okay.”
And all Taehyung says is: “Okay.”
“Talk to you later, hyung?”
“Of course, Guk-ah.” Taehyung’s voice is soft. Jeongguk thinks that’s the end of it when he turns around back to the door, but he hears Taehyung speaks again. “I love you. Do you love me?”
Jeongguk looks back one last time, to see Taehyung and his sad smile.
Jeongguk’s heart burns. “I always have.”
“I want to tell him, hyung.”
Yoongi stares back at Jeongguk. “You should.”
Jeongguk sighs, wiping sweat from his forehead. He’s tired, his calves are giving out beneath him, the studio feels hot, too hot, and he’s so close to passing out. Still, Taehyung is the only thing on his mind.
“You really think so?”
Yoongi is still staring at him with intent. He’s panting, with Jeongguk, their breaths complementing each other, and it should be weird, but they’ve been practicing together for so long that it’s not.
“You’ve been in love with him forever.” Yoongi says plainly, like it’s a flat out truth for everyone to see bare.
“Just do it, Jeongguk. He’s not going to run.”
He doesn’t know if it’s true, but he nods and thanks him anyway.
“I want to tell him.” Taehyung says one day, by their usual spot, on the rooftop to see the sky and its vastness. Jeongguk looks at Taehyung and thinks he’s beautiful.
“That’s crazy. I’ve been thinking about telling him, too.”
“Oh, wow.” Taehyung laughs, and it sounds so carefree. Something that Jeongguk has forgotten to do how. “We’re really becoming adults, huh?
“Just you, maybe.” Jeongguk scoots closer to Taehyung, seeking his warmth. When their shoulders meet, he sighs in relief, as if he’s been granted something grand. Jeongguk doesn’t really want anything else. This. The world for only them to see. Their pinkies almost touching where they’re placed on their laps. This is his remedy, and the only thing he would ever want. “I still feel like a kid.”
“You’re not. You’re a hero.”
“I don’t want to be, sometimes.”
“I can imagine why.” Taehyung says, and it sounds like fake sympathy, like things you would hear a stranger say. But with Taehyung it’s different, because he has always been honest and genuine, and his eyes are gleaming. “It must be difficult.”
“You are my hero. You do know that, right?”
Jeongguk laughs, because it sounds ridiculous. But it doesn’t sound bad, being Taehyung’s hero. Even if it’s Spider-Man that Taehyung sees and not Jeongguk.
“Yeah. It’s still weird to think about. To have someone look up to me.”
Taehyung stares at Jeongguk, and he has a smile on his lips. “You are amazing, you know. I hope you always know that.”
Jeongguk laughs again, something akin to happiness blooming in his chest. “Thank you, Taehyung.”
“How are things with you two?”
Jeongguk’s shoulders are wrapped in Taehyung’s long arm, embracing him as they walk out of campus. Taehyung smells nice and Jeongguk feels like he’s finally home.
“You and whoever it is you’re dating.”
“Oh.” Jeongguk says dumbly, vaguely remembering the conversation a few weeks ago, about a supposed person that he’s apprently seeing. He doesn’t want to continue to lie, but he also doesn’t want to explain that he indeed was lying so he resorts to a casual shrug of his shoulders. “We’re okay.”
“Good.” Taehyung ruffles his hair, his face so close to Jeongguk’s, he could just lean in and kiss him right here, in the middle of the street. “Ice cream?”
“There will be a dance showcase in our campus.” Taehyung says, and they’re on the rooftop again, but right now it’s different, because instead of the usual mundane blue, the sky is pitch black with scattered stars. “You should come.”
Jeongguk smiles beneath the mask. It’s the showcase he’s been preparing with the dance group, with Yoongi for the past brutal months. He finds it adorable that Taehyung knows about the show, although he’s pretty sure the posters are plastered everywhere throughout campus.
“Do you want me to come?” Jeongguk asks, feeling giddy.
“Yeah. Of course?” Taehyung gives him a look, and he’s smiling. Jeongguk thinks he looks gorgeous, with the moonlight reflecting on his golden skin, his eyes bright and full. “I want people to think I’m cool for being friends with Spider-Man.”
“Rude. You’re using me.”
Taehyung laughs. Jeongguk feels light. “I’m kidding. My best friend is performing. I want you to meet him. You both would get along.”
Jeongguk grins, though he knows Taehyung can’t see. “Maybe.”
“You’re a dear friend, you know?” Taehyung says. “For me, at least.”
Jeongguk knocks his shoulder with Taehyung’s. “You too.”
“Really?” Taehyung asks, like he’s surprised.
“Really.” Jeongguk answers quickly, because he doesn’t have to think about it. “Contrary to popular belief, I don’t have that many friends.”
“Superhero life, huh?” Taehyung is grinning wild now, and it’s so silly and endearing that Jeongguk wraps his arm around him without thinking. He was about to scoot away and say sorry, but Taehyung only leans in closer, putting his head on his shoulder.
Jeongguk smiles against Taehyung’s hair. “It is indeed.”
Jeongguk should’ve known this would happen. He blames himself for being too accustomed with the almost peaceful state of the city—only having to deal with beggars and arsonists and reckless teenagers who vandalize for the most part he had become Spider-Man. He had been too damn naïve and stupid that he had forgotten the danger this could entail in the first place.
He knows something is wrong when his phone stays silent the whole day. He finds it strange, yes, but he simply thinks Namjoon is busy or maybe the city is finally quiet during the day. Jeongguk doesn’t think much about it, happily going through classes and catching up with all the thing he’d missed.
What he doesn’t expect, though, is for Seokjin to call him when Jeongguk steps foot inside the dorm. Jeongguk knows of Seokjin from Namjoon, but they’re not that close for the older to casually call him at an ordinary evening, so he answers the call with anticipation and dread—his heart just knows something has gone terribly wrong.
“What’s up, hyung?”
“Is Joonie with you?” Seokjin sounds panicked, Jeongguk can hear him pacing frantically. “His phone is off and I called the police station but they said he went hours ago and I’ve been calling everyone else—”
A small sob escapes his mouth, cutting his own words, and Jeongguk closes his eyes. This is all his fault. This is all his fucking fault.
“Can you? Can you find him? Make sure he’s okay?”
Jeongguk is already out the window when he replies, something heavy on his shoulders.
“Of course, hyung.”
It doesn’t take long for Jeongguk to find Namjoon because not even fifteen minutes later, he receives a text from the culprit with a threat and an address.
Jeongguk can feel himself tearing up behind the mask, his head fuzzy and blurred with worry and anxiety. He keeps thinking about Seokjin, and how he would absolutely loathe himself if he lets anything happen to Namjoon. He wouldn’t know what to do with himself if they break them apart. Jeongguk would prefer anything else.
His heart is beating hard against his chest, his hands shaky and terrified. Any other crimes have been easy to deal with because they have never include anyone close to him. Namjoon has been right all along. Concealing his identity was the right call. But now, it’s Namjoon paying the price and Jeongguk is furious. He wants it to end.
It’s an abandoned warehouse.
Jeongguk barely register anything, the whole time he feels like his head is trapped in a cage, like his chest is pressed against cold concrete. Everything happens too fast, he feels his tears clinging on to his cheeks, the tremor on his fingers unyielding.
It’s not too long until he spots Namjoon, tied up on a worn out chair, his eyes wide and bloodshot red. Something breaks inside of Jeongguk, and he thinks he may have lost himself piece by piece every day since Jeongguk disappeared and Spider-Man became an identity, became a person, and somehow they’ve both been molded into one that Jeongguk doesn’t really know who he is anymore. Because right now, he doesn’t feel like Spider-Man, doesn’t feel like the city’s superhero, he just feels like a kid, and he feels like Jeongguk. But Jeongguk doesn’t know how to be brave and Jeongguk is not a superhero, so as soon as he gets his hands on Namjoon, he cries and he doesn’t know how to stop.
It happens too fast. Jeongguk doesn’t remember anything, and all he knows is the culprit is talking and blabbering about how Spider-Man has ruined everything for him, how he’s the reason why he’s now homeless, and he keeps talking about how his family left him alone and that it’s Spider-Man’s fault. Jeongguk isn’t really listening, his vision disorienting and somehow he feels like the room is spinning, but sometime during that, he notices that the man is wearing a mask – something cheap and and so ugly, that it ignites a fire inside of Jeongguk and suddenly he’s angry and he’s yelling and there are tears on his cheeks but there are also pain, because the man is hitting Jeongguk, a knife on his hand, something red gushing on Jeongguk’s chest, ripping the suit apart, letting the blood flow freely across his body.
Jeongguk fights back weakly, he feels like he’s dying, but the man sprints across the room to where Namjoon is and that’s when everything explodes.
Jeongguk doesn’t remember anything, and all he knows is that the man’s mask is off his face, his body cold on the floor, motionless.
Jeongguk doesn’t remember anything, and all he knows is that he’s got Namjoon safe and tucked safely on his hold,
and that’s all that matters.
“Guk? I heard about the news—”
Taehyung hears the door open and what awaits in front of it breaks his soul into pieces.
It’s Jeongguk, but he’s crying, his entire body shakes. He looks dirty, dust adorning his pale cheeks, debris clinging to his clothes, and his head is down, chin resting on his chest.
Taehyung runs to him, craddling his face in his hands when he feels Jeongguk’s body giving out completely, falling to the floor. Taehyung falls with him, still holding on to Jeongguk, the pad of his thumb wiping the tears away. Jeongguk looks so broken that Taehyung’s heart hurts, and it takes everything in him not to cry with Jeongguk, the pain in his chest growing and has no sign of stopping.
Taehyung has to be strong for Jeongguk, so he takes a deep breath and wills himself not to break.
“Baby,” Taehyung calls softly, knocking their foreheads together as he holds him, feeling each tremble and shake of his body against his skin. Jeongguk feels cold. “Jeongguk, I heard about the news.”
The television was on when Taehyung got home. He remembers feeling dread, the twisting knot on his stomach dropping as he remembers Jeongguk laughing on Namjoon’s shoulder on a hot summer.
Jeongguk cries on his shirt, and Taehyung lets him fall.
Because Taehyung knows it’s been rough lately — knows Jeongguk tend to keep everything inside, knows that whatever he’s been struggling has boiled down to this, to this suffocating moment and Taehyung wants to make sure that Jeongguk is okay.
Taehyung knows that he’s not, and so far from it, but Taehyung is going to be here, and he’s not going anywhere.
It’s getting sore sitting like this, and as he puts his hand on Jeongguk’s chest to help him get up, he feels something wet. When he sees his palm, it’s stained red and for a second he blacks out.
Jeongguk is bleeding. There’s a bandage carelessly put over the wound, but the blood is still seeping through. Taehyung wants to ask what happened, but as he looks at Jeongguk he knows that it would be futile, and he reminds himself that this isn’t about Taehyung, isn’t about him and his unanswered questions, so he simply holds Jeongguk and brings him to the bathroom.
Taehyung strips him off and cleans him up. He doesn’t let his gaze linger, doesn’t let his eyes drop to the cuts and bruises plastered all over Jeongguk’s pale skin. Doesn’t let himself see what Jeongguk clearly doesn’t want him to, and has prevent him from looking at. When he’s finished, Taehyung puts Jeongguk’s favorite hoodie over his head and feels him sag in relief against Taehyung’s grip.
As they’re lying on Jeongguk’s bed, Taehyung puts his arms around him protectively. He kisses his forehead, caresses the tense muscle on his shoulder blades, and whispers it’s okay, baby. You’re safe. I’m here with you. Jeongguk doesn’t say anything, but Taehyung doesn’t mind, because Jeongguk is in his arms, and he’s not crying anymore.
Taehyung tries not to fall asleep, keeping his eyes open to continue pulling Jeongguk closer to his body and let him know that he’s here. He’s almost dozing off, barely conscious, when he hears Jeongguk’s muffled voice against his chest.
“I love you. Do you love me?”
Taehyung smiles to Jeongguk’s hair, hearing those familiar words spoken back to him. He cups Jeongguk’s cheek and looks at him.
Taehyung loves Jeongguk, and it’s never going to change.
“You don’t ever have to ask, Guk-ah.”
Jeongguk hasn’t touched the suit in three whole weeks.
It’s deep in his drawer, in a place he can’t see, a place his hands can’t easily reach. He doesn’t want to, is the thing. He wants to leave it behind, to put the alter ego as a blurred memory buried inside his mind.
The incident was all over the news. Spider-Man saved local policeman. Spider-Man severely injured a criminal. See more on Channel 9. Jeongguk didn't watch even a second of it.
At the end of the day, Namjoon told his story on national television and it was broadcasted across the city. It was something major, only because it was the first time there was a casualty this vital involved. But, people moved on and they’re not talking about it anymore.
They talk about Spider-Man’s disappearance, instead. The usual friendly superhero is nowhere to be seen flying across towering buildings.
Jeongguk doesn’t think he ever wants to go back to being Spider-Man, doesn’t think he wants the weight on his chest anymore.
Namjoon is doting him, peppering him with kisses and hugs any chance he gets. He invites Jeongguk over four times a week, Seokjin making them all dinner as they talk about trivial things like the weather. Jeongguk indulged in it, the first two weeks, but now he cancels every plans and sits by the dance studio with heaving breaths.
Taehyung is worried. Jeongguk notices his fleeting glances every now and then, with careful voice, tiptoeing himself around Jeongguk like he’s afraid he would break. Jeongguk hates it. He knows Taehying is simply concerned, but Jeongguk feels like a fragile thing, trapped inside a glass door, waiting to finally shatter.
Jeongguk looks at Yoongi, who is still practicing a particular dance move. As usual, the other members have gone home, leaving them both sweaty and panting together in the brightly lit room.
“You know,” Jeongguk starts, staring at Yoongi and his moving limbs. He gulps down his nerves. “Taehyung keeps putting food on the kitchen window with post-it notes for Spider-Man.”
It’s usually simple like hope you’re okay, Spidey, or have a great day! The sky looks lonely without you :( or my classes were boring today. Hope you had fun!, but lately it’s been more of Spidey, I know it had been rough for you, but I’m here if you ever need me. I’m not going anywhere. Love, Taehyung or I really hope you’re okay. I’m very worried. I just want my friend back. But please, take your time. Take all the time you need, spidey. Love, Taehyung.
It’s overwhelming. Jeongguk doesn’t know what to do with it.
Yoongi stares at him. “What do you with the food?”
“I take them, put them in my room, eat until I’m full. I want him to know that Spidey’s doing fine.”
“He’ll be okay, Guk.”
“You will be, too.” Yoongi’s gaze is piercing, and Jeongguk doesn’t look away.
He sighs, feeling his muscles throb, his eyes wet. “Maybe, hyung.”
That night, Jeongguk finds food on the kitchen counter again.
Hi, Spidey. How are you? The showcase is in a week. I hope you can make it? You don’t have to come as Spider-Man. You can come as you. Just let me know if you come by. Leave a note or something. Vandalize the campus with your signature. Pee in the sidewalk. I don’t know, anything is okay! I hope we can meet again. I miss you. I really do.
“I wonder how he is.”
Jimin doesn’t ask who Taehyung’s referring to. “He’s a superhero, Tae. He’s fine.”
Taehyung takes Jimin’s hand in his, feeling comforted by his best friend’s presence. He sighs contently, but there’s still that lump, that weight on his chest that he can’t ignore.
“Yeah,” He says, shutting his eyes close. A brief flash of Jeongguk appears – a smiling, happy Jeongguk with dark hair flopping on his forehead. Taehyung wonders when was the last time he saw Jeongguk smiled like that. He shakes his head, focusing his mind on Spider-Man instead. “But you don’t know him like I do. He’s just a kid behind the mask. I know he feels terrible about what happened to Namjoon, although he literally saved his life.”
Jimin seems to consider this, his gaze moving from Taehyung’s eyes to the strand of blond hair tucked securely behind his ears. “He takes all of your food, right?”
“Yeah, he does.”
“It means he wants you to know he’s okay.”
Taehyung flops on the cushion with a long sigh. Jimin hugs him.
“I’m always right.”
Taehyung pushes Jimin off the bed.
Jeongguk did well. Even through the buzzing of his mind, he didn’t mess up. Or, he didn’t mess up immense enough for anyone to notice or to ruin the whole showcase. He tripped once or twice, but he guesses that’s okay. He doesn’t have to be perfect all the time.
He spotted Taehyung in the front row, a big smile on his face. Taehyung screamed Jeongguk’s name the loudest, and Jeongguk has never been more in love.
After it all, Jeongguk eyes the red suit in his backpack.
“You came.” Taehyung says.
Jeongguk has his arms around Taehyung. He feels intoxicating, and Jeongguk can't get enough of him. He doesn’t know how to stop being so, so enamored. Looking at Taehyung right now, the sharp set of his jaw, the twinkling on his eyes, the fond way he’s looking at Spider-Man, Jeongguk thinks he will love him forever. He thinks he wants to. Doesn’t matter if Taehyung doesn’t love him back, this is the only way he knows how to feel about Taehyung. Nothing else matters except Taehyung.
And that’s always been the case for Jeongguk. Everything he does, he thinks about Taehyung.
In this moment, Jeongguk doesn’t think about the masked man in the warehouse. He doesn’t think about Namjoon and Seokjin talking happily in their dining room, doesn’t think about the weight, doesn’t think about Spider-Man and people’s attentive, judgemental stares.
In this moment, he thinks about Kim Taehyung.
In this moment, he’s not Spider-Man anymore. He’s simply Jeon Jeongguk staring at Kim Taehyung, and he’s so in love.
“Are you happy?” Jeongguk asks slowly, because he wants to know. Wants to know that more than anything in the world.
Taehyung is beaming. His hands are clasped behind Jeongguk’s neck, his touch gratifying. Jeongguk can’t help but pull him closer.
“Of course!” Taehyung exclaims happily, his eyes turning into crescents. “I just can’t believe you would do that for me. You’ve been gone for a whole month, spidey.”
Jeongguk closes his eyes momentarily. It’s overwhelming, being here with Taehyung. In their usual rooftop, the moon shining brilliantly on the pitch dark sky. Taehyung makes him feel so alive, and Jeongguk feels invincible tonight.
“I’d do anything for you.” Jeongguk means it, and his heart aches.
Taehyung looks at him, beautiful eyes moving over Jeongguk’s masked face. Jeongguk shivers under the scrutiny.
Taehyung’s gaze is fond as he utters, “You must really love me.”
Jeongguk thinks, if only you knew.
Holding Taehyung’s body firmly, he can hear the loud thrumming of his heartbeat against his ribcage. Taehyung is still looking at him, and Jeongguk doesn't want to be scared anymore.
Jeongguk grips him tighter, his voice is soft as it comes out as a whisper. “I always have, Taehyung.”
For a second, the world stills.
Taehyung doesn’t react at first, but as the words sink in, his eyes grow wide, the fingers on Jeongguk’s neck digging hard to his skin.
Jeongguk is breathing hard. He doesn’t know what to expect. Is Taehyung going to run? Is he going to push Jeongguk off the rooftop?
He braces himself, eyes closed tight.
The pad of Taehyung’s thumb presses into his cheekbone. When Jeongguk opens his eyes, Taehyung is still looking at him fondly.
“Yeah.” He breathes out.
“It’s you.” Taehyung looks surprised, but that’s it. His gaze is still warm, just as it did when he looked at Spider-Man.
“It’s been you the whole time.” Taehyung says, but it’s not accusatory. Jeongguk doesn’t know why Taehyung is still looking at him like that, like he’s in awe, like he hadn’t figured out it was Jeongguk behind the mask.
“Yeah, I know.” Jeongguk feels guilty, voice wavering. “I’m sorry.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Taehyung unexpectedly pulls him into a hug, his cheek presses hard on Jeongguk’s until he can’t breathe. Taehyung feels warm, so warm, and Jeongguk doesn’t want to let go, his arms circling around Taehyung in a deeper embrace.
“I was protecting you.” Jeongguk sighs into Taehyung’s hair. This feels so much like home.
“Oh my God.” Taehyung exclaims right on his ear. As he pulls back a little to look at Jeongguk, his eyes are wet with tears. “What happened with Namjoon. You were afraid that would happen to me.”
“Yes.” Jeongguk frowns. He doesn’t want to think about that.
“I love you.” Taehyung says, and Jeongguk can feel his breath on his mouth.
Jeongguk wants to say I’ve been in love with you ever since we were kids and you used to pee on the sink. I’ve been in love with you ever since you held my hand the first day of high school. I’ve been in love with you ever since your hair was black, and then red, and then blue. I loved you then, and I love you now. I’m sorry, I don’t think I will ever stop.
But, he wills himself not to cry. And he says, “I love you too.”
“No.” Taehyung shakes his head, and he laughs, even when there are tears on his cheeks. He looks determined, and he looks at Jeongguk like he’s everything he wants. “You don’t understand.”
“I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you more than you know. I love you more. I love you more than these words can ever convey. I’m in love with you, Jeon Jeongguk. I’ve been in love with you for a long, long time.”
Jeongguk doesn’t understand. He knows the words Taehyung are saying, but he doesn’t know the meaning, refuses to believe if it all means what he thinks it does.
He cries, and it’s like a dam fucking breaks.
Taehyung holds him, not even a fraction of second did he let go, and Jeongguk still doesn’t understand.
“Guk-ah, why are you crying?” Taehyung laughs, but he’s also crying and it’s ridiculous, and Jeongguk feels alight, something like joy spreading inside him.
“Because it feels like you’re saying you love me.” Jeongguk says, the tears in his eyes welling up, his voice slipping. “And I’ve been in love with you. So, if I misunderstand and get my hopes us, I don’t want to get my heart broken—”
“Guk-ah,” Taehyung cuts him off, his fingers tugging the end of Jeongguk’s mask. “May I?
Jeongguk nods, doesn’t think he can say anything else even if he tried.
Taehyung takes off his mask. Jeongguk can feel the wind on his face, cold and harsh. Suddenly, he feels terrified, scared that Taehyung would let him fall.
But Taehyung doesn’t let go.
“You love me?” Taehyung asks, cupping Jeongguk’s face. His stare is tender, like Jeongguk is a precious thing, and he feels like he doesn’t deserve it. “Jeonggukie, do you love me?”
“Yes,” his voice cracks.
“May I show you what I meant? By what I said?” Taehyung looks like he’s asking for permission, and Jeongguk wants to tell him, you already have all of me. Take all of me, Taehyung but he still nods as an answer. “You didn’t misunderstand anything.”
Taehyung kisses him and Jeongguk forgets how to breathe.
His lips are soft, like Jeongguk has always thought they would be. The moment his brain registers that it’s Taehyung, that it’s Taehyung in his arms, that it’s Taehyung kissing him, he puts his all into it. He kisses Taehyung like he always wanted to. He kisses Taehyung like he doesn’t want to stop.
It’s sweet and gentle, the way Taehyung’s lips are pressed against his own. Taehyung breathes into his parted mouth, and it makes Jeongguk’s head spins, like he would stumble if Taehyung wasn’t holding on to him like his life depends on it.
Jeongguk is shaking, can't bring himself to believe that he's kissing Taehyung, that this isn't all a dream he needs to wake up from — but Taehyung plays with the hair on the back of Jeongguk's neck and it makes him dizzy with want.
It's real, he realizes after, and he kisses Taehyung the way he's always loved him — soft and honest, relentless as he chases his mouth with his own.
Taehyung loves me back.
Taehyung loves me back.
Taehyung breaks it off first and placing a quick peck on Jeongguk’s lips, like he can’t help it, as he pulls away. There are tear stains on his cheeks, but he’s smiling so wide, Jeongguk can see the row of Taehyung’s teeth.
“You’re a dumbass, Jeon Jeongguk.” Taehyung kisses him again, laughing against his mouth, and Jeongguk has never been this happy in his life. “I’ve loved you since forever.”
“I’ve loved you since forever too, hyung.”
“Then I’m also a dumbass.” Taehyung puts his head on Jeongguk’s shoulder, and Jeongguk lets him. He would give him everything he asks. “I’m guessing the person you’re dating is... Spider-Man?”
Jeongguk pinches Taehyung’s stomach until he laughs harder. “It sounds weird when you say it like that, but yeah. I wasn’t dating anyone, Taehyung, I was just busy being a superhero.”
Taehyung rolls his eyes, kisses him again, and everything feels right.
“So, you’re now Spider-Man’s boyfriend?”
Taehyung scoffs into his phone, shaking his head even though he knows Jimin can’t see. “I’m not. I’m Jeongguk’s boyfriend. Don’t mix it up.”
“But, you told me Jeongguk is Spider-Man –”
“Not too loud.” Taehyung hisses, throwing his coffee cup on a nearby trash bin as he passes by. “I only told you because you’re my soulmate and Jeongguk understands that.”
“Damn right I am.”
“So, yeah. I’m Jeongguk’s boyfriend.” Taehyung smiles as the words leave his mouth. He’s still not used to it, but it feels nice. “Spider-Man picks me up every now and then, but my heart still belongs to Jeongguk and only Jeongguk.”
“I still can’t believe you were in love with the same person this whole time.”
“I wasn’t in love with Spider-Man.” Taehyung puts his hand on his hip, glancing up at the sky. He’s already at the alleyway, shoulders resting on the brick wall. “I thought he was hot, sure, but anyone who likes men can see that he’s fucking hot and fit – but I wasn’t in love with him.”
“Ugh. Such a sap, what the fuck.”
“Shut up, go back to your class.”
“I hate you.”
“No, you don’t.”
Jimin hangs up just in time. Taehyung can see the familiar figure dropping from the sky on the spot next to him. Taehyung can’t see his face, but he loves him just the same.
“Ready?” Jeongguk wraps his arm around him.
“You know, we don’t have to go back to the dorm like this all the time. We can walk, Guk-ah, and I would still think you’re the most romantic person in the world.”
“How else would I tell the world that you’re mine?”
Taehyung rolls his eyes, but his heart flutters just the same, as it did when he was twelve. “Disgusting, Jeongguk.”
“I know you love it. Being up there, with me.”
Taehyung does, but he doesn’t want to say it. “No, I don’t. You have terrible aim, and sometimes your web shakes – shit, Jeongguk!”
Taehyung doesn’t finish his sentence, his tongue going back inside his mouth as Jeongguk unexpectedly leaps into the sky, bringing Taehyung with him.
“What the fuck, Jeongguk? I wasn’t ready!” Taehyung knocks his forehead against his temple, closing his eyes shut.
“You still love me.” Jeongguk says through the wind.
Taehyung sees the city laid out in front him, and it’s terrifying, but Jeongguk is holding him tight, his laughter bright and loud, and Taehyung can't bring himself to be afraid.
“I always have, Jeongguk.”