There's something wrong with Taehyung's ears.
Or maybe not. Maybe it's the sleep deprivation. The being dragged into consciousness and out of bed by a distressed phone call, a slurred Taehyungie, hyung needs help getting home. The long few minutes asking Yoongi to repeat himself—where are you, hyung? I can't understand you. Are you drunk?—as he shoved into his shoes.
Taehyung's got a very important interview tomorrow, one he's gotta be up for in—he hikes Yoongi up a bit, tightens his grip around Yoongi's waist, checks the time on his phone—four hours, but Yoongi is hardly in a state to remember a thing like that right now. Taehyung hardly is, either. He's still in his pajamas and he's tired, trying to drag his friend halfway across the city because the next bus isn't due for hours and Yoongi went and got himself drunk, got himself kicked out of a midnight viewing of some new movie Taehyung's never heard of. Called Taehyung just as Taehyung hit that deep part of sleep that’s hardest to come out of and asked Taehyung-ah, which way is my apartment? Taehyung-ah, come get me?
More than any of that, though. Taehyung walks Yoongi around a lamp post, blinks hard, feels Yoongi's fingers gripping him through his coat. Says, "what did you just say, hyung?" and tilts his head down to listen through the ringing in his ears.
"I said," he murmurs, all his syllables slurring together, "said m'in love with you."
He stumbles then, and Taehyung is too dumbfounded to be on top of that sort of thing, nearly drops him, nearly gets dragged down with him. Taehyung throws both arms around Yoongi to keep him on his feet, and then drops his phone instead, right into a powdery pile of snow.
He blinks at it, then at Yoongi, then slowly dips down to grab it, Yoongi heavy against his side.
Because maybe—maybe Yoongi is confused. Maybe he's so gone he doesn't know who's walking him home. Maybe he tripped and fell and hit his head before Taehyung was able to get to him and he doesn’t know what he’s saying at all.
Yoongi giggles. Taehyung is pretty sure a sound like that has never come out of Yoongi before ever, and he puts another tick in the something is wrong with my ears box.
"Yeeeaaaah," Yoongi drawls, leaning hard to the right and squinting. He boops Taehyung's nose when Taehyung tries to sneak a quick look at him. Taehyung's whole face scrunches up. "S'just you and me here, isn't it?"
Taehyung glances around. It is, he realizes gratefully, just the two of them. As far as he can see, anyway. Not a whole lot of people walking the streets after midnight on a Thursday. Probably not a whole lot stupid enough to brave the cold at all.
"Hyung," Taehyung laughs. He swallows everything down. All of it, those pesky feelings and twinges of hope and wonder, wonder if maybe there’s some truth behind Yoongi’s words, the way Yoongi drops his head onto Taehyung’s shoulder as they walk, the way he tried holding Taehyung’s hand when he came to get him, before Taehyung realized he could hardly walk. "You are really drunk."
"Yeah," Yoongi slurs again. His nose is so red. His cheeks, too. Taehyung would pick up the pace if he thought he could keep Yoongi on his feet. He thinks about coaxing Yoongi onto his back, piggyback him all the way home, then remembers the nasty bruise Yoongi's pinch left on his arm the last time Taehyung tried lifting him off the ground and leaves him where he is.
"What are you doing at the movies this late, anyway?”
Yoongi hates going out. Especially to crowded places, especially alone. Add all that to being totally shit-faced, and you get a level of irresponsibility Taehyung is pretty sure he’s never seen, not from Yoongi, not in all the years he’s known him.
It’s a Thursday, for god’s sake. Yoongi has work in the morning.
"Hoseok told me to—" Yoongi says, and then pauses to swallow hard, and for a horrifying second, Taehyung thinks Yoongi might throw up all over their shoes.
"Hoseok hyung told you to get wasted and try to see a movie in the middle of the night?" Taehyung asks when Yoongi doesn’t say anything else. A lone taxi zips by in a streak of orange, spraying icy slush on the sidewalk in front of them. Taehyung glares after it. How’s he supposed to get Yoongi safely across that? He should have waved it down, given the driver a piece of his mind. And then maybe asked for a ride home.
"Nooo,” Yoongi chuckles. He smacks at Taehyung’s chest with his free hand, clumsy, gets him in the stomach a few times. Taehyung doubles over a little, but Yoongi doesn’t notice, just bends with him and says in his ear, “Hoseok told me to talk to you,” in this pleased little voice, like he’s sharing a profound secret, one that could change the world.
Maybe it could. Taehyung’s world, anyway.
“Okay,” says Taehyung, a little out of breath from being hit in the stomach, from being hit with Yoongi’s half-baked confession. He tries not to think about either. “Okay, so, Hoseok hyung told you to get wasted and drag me out of bed in the middle of the night to talk to me.”
Yoongi laughs again, like Taehyung is the funniest person he’s ever met, but he doesn’t answer, which is fine. It gives Taehyung time to focus, tiptoe over the slippery wet sidewalk, lift Yoongi across as carefully and discreetly as he can.
He takes Yoongi home. To his home. It’s closer, and Taehyung can keep a better eye on him that way. Seokjin is staying the night with Jungkook—fourth night in a row, not that it’s any of Taehyung’s business—so Taehyung wrestles Yoongi out of his coat and his shoes and tucks him into Seokjin’s bed. Seokjin wouldn’t mind. Probably. As long as Yoongi doesn’t like, throw up in it. Taehyung puts the trash can next to the bed just in case.
It’s a whole ordeal, getting Yoongi to sleep. All of a sudden he’s got these long limbs that cling to Taehyung, these muffled words that will still embarrass him tomorrow, even though Taehyung can only understand half of them. He calls Taehyung pretty. Asks him to stay. The L-word gets thrown around a few more times, Taehyung thinks, but Yoongi is slurring too much to know for sure.
Taehyung is just—none of this feels real. He lets Yoongi curl into him until he falls asleep and then he sneaks off to his own bed and tries to prepare himself for tomorrow, when Yoongi inevitably stumbles out of Seokjin’s room with a hangover from hell and no memory of turning Taehyung’s life upside down.
And that's exactly what happens.
Between the lack of sleep and all those Yoongi-related thoughts taking up space in his head, Taehyung is pretty sure he bombs his morning interview. It’s fine. He didn’t want a soul-sucking office job, anyway. Even if it did come with a significant pay raise and stable hours and substantial benefits. He likes his two part-time jobs just fine, there will be plenty of other opportunities in the future, he won’t let one failure get him down, and all those other things Jimin tells him when he calls on his walk home, on the verge of tears.
So. It’s fine. Taehyung is fine. He’s got other things on his plate right now, anyway. Like how Yoongi is in his apartment, missing work and sleeping the day away.
Taehyung is hovering over a simmering pot of his own sad version of Seokjin’s haejangguk when Yoongi staggers into the kitchen. His eyes are half closed. His hair looks like it might be nesting a family of small birds. He’s missing his pants, even though Taehyung is one hundred percent sure they were still on when he put Yoongi to bed last night.
Taehyung jerks back around and stirs the soup. It doesn’t smell quite right, but it doesn’t smell bad. It looks… mostly okay. Yoongi has been the unfortunate recipient of a meal or two cooked by Taehyung in the past. He can’t be expecting much.
“What,” says Yoongi, hoarsely, like his vocal chords have been scraped out with sandpaper, “the fuck happened last night?”
There he is, Taehyung thinks. The Yoongi he knows and loves. (And loves, his brain taunts, but Taehyung swats at the air with his ladle like he can shoo the thoughts away.) He feels Yoongi's gaze on the back of his head and tries for a casual shrug.
“You, uh.” He shoots a glance over his shoulder and laughs a little miserably, and when Yoongi’s hands fly up to cover his ears, Taehyung guiltily lowers his voice. “You got kicked out of a movie theater.”
Yoongi says nothing, which is just about as much as Taehyung had been expecting. And Taehyung rambles on because when he’s not talking he’s thinking, and when he’s thinking he’s over thinking and then he’s giggling and stuttering and—
“You did, hyung,” says Taehyung, thickly, rubbing at the back of his neck. There’s a strange, heavy bubble of pressure in his chest. “The security guy was watching you when I got there. You’re lucky he didn’t call the cops. Public intoxication, or whatever, you know?”
Between being woken up, and Yoongi’s drunken, probably-not-real-confession, seeing the security guard hover as Yoongi dry heaved into the bushes just outside the theater had been the highlight of Taehyung’s night. Serves Yoongi right, he’d thought, for pulling a stunt like that.
To his credit, Yoongi only looks mildly surprised. Maybe it’s the hangover that’s keeping anything more than vague interest at bay, brows drawn in a permanent pinch, the corners of his mouth tugged down.
“I… okay.” He shakes his head, like he doesn’t even want to touch on that right now. “So why am I here?”
Finally, a question Taehyung is ready to answer. He hadn’t gone into this totally blind, and he does know Yoongi well. Or, he thought he did. Before the I love yous that seemed to hold so much more weight than the simple, teasing shows of affection Taehyung is used to getting. The ones he has to drag out of Yoongi, poke and prod and pout until Yoongi huffs and puffs and plays along.
“You were,” Taehyung starts, and the words catch in his throat, and maybe he’s not as ready as he thought, to do this. To talk to Yoongi while Yoongi has no idea what he said last night, what he did, the way he clung to Taehyung in bed and murmured slurred praise into Taehyung’s chest until he passed out. “You were—” Taehyung tries again, and then he whips back around to poke uselessly at the simmering soup.
“I was what? Why are you being weird?” With each word, Yoongi comes closer. He stops just short of bumping into Taehyung’s back, just close enough to peer over Taehyung’s shoulder and into the pot. “What did I do, Taehyung-ah,” he asks, and it doesn’t even sound like a question. Like he maybe already knows. Like maybe he remembers more than he’s letting on.
Taehyung must be thinking too loud, or maybe Yoongi just knows him well, because Yoongi touches him then, careful, gentle fingers on his back. He asks again, Taehyungie, what did I do? in this tiny, weary tone, and Taehyung drops the ladle back into the pot and sighs.
“You told me,” he says, eyes slipping closed as the feather light pressure of Yoongi’s hand slides up to squeeze at his shoulder, “that you. Um. That you love me?”
It ends in a squeak, Yoongi’s fingers digging too hard into the back of Taehyung’s neck. The room goes still and quiet, save for the bubbling pot on the stove and Taehyung’s pulse thrumming in his ears.
Yoongi’s hand falls away.
“I’ve told you that I—” he says, and steps back to lean sideways against the counter, fingers flying to his mouth so he can gnaw at them. Taehyung sees it all from the corner of his eye and wonders if Yoongi even realizes he isn’t wearing pants. He grips the ladle again, a little tighter. “I’ve said that to you before. Plenty of times.”
Mostly only under extreme duress, or when Taehyung like, brings Yoongi coffee in the mornings when he doesn’t have work and Yoongi does, but this whole thing is uncomfortable enough as it is without pointing out the obvious, so Taehyung doesn’t.
“No,” he says instead, “this was different,” like that makes it any less awkward. “This was—you said you were in love with me? And you wanted to hold my hand—”
“We hold hands sometimes—”
“—and you kept calling me pretty and trying to get me to sleep with you—not like that,” Taehyung adds hastily when Yoongi locks right up, eyes on him, big as saucers. “Just sleep. In Jin hyung’s bed. With you.”
Yoongi stays quiet and Taehyung does too, for as long as he can stand it. Which isn’t very long, and that comes as a surprise to exactly no one. He watches Yoongi stare a hole into the ground and wishes he were better at this, this saying what’s on his mind thing, this not embarrassing himself thing. But he isn’t, and it’s too late to keep his mouth shut now, and it was Yoongi who technically started all this, anyway.
“Hyung.” Taehyung sighs and turns to Yoongi, soup forgotten. “You don’t have to explain, I just wanted to—”
“What did you say?” asks Yoongi, and he’s still not looking at Taehyung and it’s weird. It’s probably too early to give up on today and crawl back into bed, but Taehyung is very, very tempted.
“That you don’t have to explain?”
“No, not—what did you say last night?”
“Oh. To which part?”
“All of it.”
“Oh.” Taehyung reaches up to switch the burner off. “Oh, I just. I kept telling you you were drunk.”
“Yeah,” says Yoongi, quietly. “Yeah, I was.” He slithers down and sits on the floor, doesn’t even grimace when his head hits the cabinet, or when the bare skin of his legs touch the cold linoleum beneath him. “So drunk,” he whispers, and then goddamnit Jung Hoseok under his breath, like Taehyung won’t hear him if he’s quiet.
“Hyung…” Taehyung starts, hesitantly, because it looks like Yoongi might be on the verge of a mental breakdown, hugging his knees to his chest and pressing the pads of his fingers to his temples.
“Where are my pants,” he says, but his tone is too high, and it doesn’t sound like he’s talking to Taehyung anymore. Taehyung’s never seen Yoongi like this and he definitely doesn’t know what to do besides what he always does when he wants something out of Yoongi and doesn’t know how to get it.
“Hyung,” he says again, and crouches down. He takes both of Yoongi’s hands and squeezes them tight, and he doesn’t let go, not even when Yoongi looks up at him through a mess of dark hair and bloodshot eyes. “Yoongi hyung.”
“Taehyung-ah,” Yoongi mumbles back. His shoulders slump, like he’s given up all hope of dignity and everything else. His hands are really warm. His cheeks probably are too, pink as they are. Taehyung resists the urge to squish them between his palms.
“Are you in love with me?” he asks, because now’s his chance, maybe his only chance, and it is not the time to beat around the bush.
That’s what he expects Yoongi to do though. Beat around the bush. Stall and grumble and deny it even if it is true, so when Yoongi lowers his eyes and squeezes Taehyung back and says yeah all quiet, it catches Taehyung so off guard he snatches his hands away. He doesn’t mean to, he just. Does it. A knee jerk reaction. He thinks he even squawks or something too, because Yoongi flinches and covers his ears again.
“Sorry,” Taehyung hisses, but that’s it. That’s all he can get from his brain to his mouth. The rest of the words are stuck up there, tumbling over each other, a mess of doubt and uncertainty and disbelief and—ridiculously—hope.
Because if Yoongi loves Taehyung then that means Taehyung has spent a ridiculous amount of time wishing for something that’s already happened. Means that maybe he doesn’t have to wish anymore. Means that maybe he can do something about it.
“Taehyungie,” says Yoongi, kicking Taehyung’s brain back into gear. Not the time to beat around the bush, his mind reminds him, but Yoongi is already talking again. “Hyung is—you don’t have to say it back. Or feel it back, or… You deserve a better confession than—You shouldn’t—”
“I do,” blurts Taehyung, less eloquently than he means to, but it’s a start. It gets Yoongi’s attention, gets him to quit his rambling, gets his eyes on him. It’s stupid, Taehyung thinks, that his heart is hammering so hard. Yoongi loves him. “I do feel it back.”
He won’t say for how long, or to what extent, or anything else that might make the situation any more embarrassing for either of them.
Just the basics will do for now. The rest can come later.
Yoongi looks down at himself, at his bare legs and his wrinkled t-shirt and his fingernails that have been bitten down to stumps, and then looks back at Taehyung like he doesn’t believe him.
“I love you,” Taehyung tells him as confidently as he can. He might have kissed him to really drive the point home, if only Yoongi had access to a toothbrush. Taehyung tugs his hand up and presses his lips to the back of it, instead. “Now you.”
Yoongi blinks. His chin is tipped up a little, like he’s trying to lean away, but the cabinet at his back won’t let him. He doesn’t look as deer-in-the-headlights as Taehyung had expected him to, being crowded in like this, Taehyung leaned in close, lips against his hand.
He just looks confused. A little out of it. A little like he suspects Taehyung might laugh, deliver some punchline, reveal the joke.
Taehyung tries not to grin.
“You did say I deserve a better confession.” His words are muffled, teasing, and he laughs when Yoongi shakes out of his hold and covers his face with his hands. Taehyung pries them off immediately, delighted by how red Yoongi’s cheeks are. He feels giddy poking at those cheeks, saying c’mon hyung, say it again, tell me you love me like he has so many times before, except now it's different. Now it's more.
Yoongi groans and calls him a brat, but he says it fondly, squeezes Taehyung's hands and looks at Taehyung so tenderly Taehyung feels like he might burst.
That's good enough for Taehyung, who pulls Yoongi to his feet and force feeds him really awful soup, spends way too long complaining about his botched interview, drags Yoongi to his room to find him some clean pants and ends up pulling him into bed with him instead. And Yoongi lets it all happen.
Because he loves him.