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As Sweet As Sea Salt

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As sweet as sea salt

 

They were in rehearsals, Jimin stretching in ways that made everyone else roll their eyes. It wasn’t his fault he was naturally flexible! He wasn’t even trying to show off as he bent himself in two as easily as he could clap his hands, it cost him no energy at all.

 

But what did cost him all his energy was how his mind kept churning thoughts after thoughts about his best friend. How he could see Taehyung from the corners of his eyes, leaning against the full length mirror, typing away on his phone. ‘He’s so effortlessly beautiful,’ Jimin thought. A slow blush crawling across his skin, like the last red leaf of a tree making its way across a snow filled lawn.

 

When he had joined the company he had breathed a sigh of relief, he had a same age friend, someone who he could treat the same. With the hyungs he always had to be mindful of how he spoke and behaved in front of them; they deserved his respect. And when it came to Jungkook he had the responsibility of looking after him and giving him all of his affection. But Taehyung? They were equal. They met shoulder to shoulder, eye to eye. The two of them could be themselves, without any barriers or walls between them. When they were together they found themselves speaking openly, releasing all that their minds could not disclose to the rest. Over the past few years, Taehyung and Jimin had become as close as the index and middle finger, always next to each other.

 

In the mornings, they woke up and got ready to go to school together. At lunch they sat and spoke about rehearsals that no one else in their class could relate to. They went to sweet shops on the way back to the training room, giddy on the sugar and each other’s company. The next few hours were devoted to rehearsals and band schedules where they were expected to uphold an image of themselves that sometimes weighed them down; it was a heavy burden being an idol. At night, or early morning depending on how late rehearsals ran over, they would crawl into their respective bunk bed, they shared a room with Hoseok who had the single bed in the middle of their small cramped room. Just the three teenage bodies, with their ever growing personalities, was enough to fill the entire room. They spoke in low voices, argued about which of their classmates were dating or which back up dancer was the cutest. Sometimes Taehyung would climb down the ladder and snuggle next to Jimin, wrap his growing limbs with his best friends and sleep. On those nights Jimin found that his nightmares were at bay, his self loathing receded, his mind a lot lighter. Taehyung’s affectionate ways towards Jimin made life a little easier to bare, they kept his monsters under the bed, stopped them from crawling onto his skin and penetrating through to his cells.

 

In an interview the group had at the back of a small van, all clustered in different angles so they could show in front of the camera, they were asked ‘who are the closest duo in the group?’ Jimin had felt like he was in seventh heaven when everyone answered him and Taehyung. They were so right! Of course his and Taehyung’s relationship was the dearest, no one matched what they had. Their friendship was something to marvel about, it was unique in its own ways and beautiful in all the other.

 

They spoke through eye contact and body movements. An arch of an eyebrow was ‘are you okay there?’ The touch of a hand being ‘I  know you found that hard but we can try again.’ A back hug meant ‘I will support you no matter how tough the day gets.’ They spoke in codes, some known by the rest, some only known to the two friends.

 

The duo enjoyed their long walks, where Jimin found his erratic mind finally find peace amongst the quietness of a busy city finally at rest and Taehyung’s soft deep voice. They never really had a destination to reach, only that they needed to get away from school and rehearsals, managers and teachers. A walk in a deserted street where only the stars watched over them was all that they needed, to calm their racing hearts and minds.

 

They got angry at each other. With the level of openness they had it was bound to end in arguments. Jimin hated the days were they were both cold to each other, but he was as stubborn as a 2 year old with their favourite toy, he would never break the silence. The entire group suffered when the two of them were fighting: the abruptness of their actions showed in the dynamic the two young boys played in the group. The laughter that usually rang through the room was dimmed a little, the sound of high fives and cheers were heard less often. Jimin would find himself lying awake, staring at the top of his bunk bed, willing Taehyung to climb the few steps that separated the two. For his best friend to join him in his bed, snuggling his face into his neck as a way of an apology. The words ‘sorry’ and ‘thank you’ did not exist in their dictionary, they made up with actions. A smoothie pushed towards Jimin during their dance break. A new pair of slippers being left on the top bunk, Taehyung’s old ones were coming apart. A grin shot across at the reflection in the mirror in the bathroom as they watched a member leave with their zipper unclosed. A laugh shared over a comic scene whilst watching the others anime over their shoulder. Jimin was always glad when they made up, he felt his breath come a little easier knowing his best friend was happy with him once more.

 

Whenever Taehyung singled Jimin out from the rest of the group Jimin felt himself floating above ground, he tried to pretend that it was normal for Taehyung to speak so differently about him, they were a set of same age friends after all. But it was hard to deny the fact that it didn’t make Jimin feel like he had won everything in life, as if he had climbed the tallest mountain or swam through the longest stretch of ocean. He felt elated in a way that he could not put words to, why did everything said by Taehyung about himself become so embedded in his mind? Why was it that he felt himself typing Taehyung’s quote in his phone as soon as he spoke it, pretending like he was texting, but actually he was just making a compilation of all the words spoken by his best friend to him, so that if his memory did ever betray him, he would have a backup.

 

But then it was January 2017 and they had been a part of the Idol Star Athletics Championships. It was the last nail in Jimin’s coffin, he could no longer hide from his feelings towards his best friend. Not after what Taehyung had done in front of thousands of people. Jimin had spent the entire day in a bratty mood, he was bored; with so many people participating in their relative activities, it was hard to focus on all that was happening that did not immediately relate to him. He wanted to be home, spend the entire day reading the One Piece manga collection that Yoongi hyung had bought him for his last birthday, he had barely made a dent in it at all, with how busy the past few months had been. But alas, here he was, stuck in front of people he did not care for, having to put up a professional image for an entire day as if it didn't take all of his energy out of him.

 

And in the same broodiness, he had kicked Taehyung’s water bottle out of reach from him as he was trying to do the bottle flip before it became a trend. Careless and without thought. Not knowing it was going to lead Taehyung to tackling him to the ground and sitting on his stomach, playfully pretending to hit him on the chest. Jimin would giggle, they were being silly and acting like 4 year olds and he was loving it.

 

When Taehyung got off of him and went to collect his bottle, Jimin would sigh in relief, the butterflies that had started to unfurl in his stomach were receding back into their cocoons. He was finding it easier to breath again now that Taehyung was not sat on top of him, with his legs on either side of his hips… all was going to be okay and Park Jimin was not going to all of his shit. He had been certain of this, and then he saw Taehyugn stride back to him. Powerful and dominant and he knew he had lost the battle already.

 

So he threw the bottle this time, as far as he could muster. He did not know why he had just done that. It was a reflex and a mistake, his rational side of the brain was screaming in agony; this was not a good choice. But there was the indecent part of his brain that had liked the weight of Taehyung on himself, wanted to feel it again and again and again. Until his breath gave away and he found himself numb from all that was rushing through his body.

 

But Taehyung didn’t sit on top of him this time, the shameless bastard. He gripped onto Jimin’s knees and twisted him sideways. Jimin felt his white hoodie being lifted off of his butt and then he was flushed red and warm. Lava running through his veins, warming up all of his organs, burning them with an orange glow that made him gasp out loud. Jimin was on fire because at that moment Taehyung was spanking him, again and again. Right there, in front of all the other idols and fans. In front of their managers and elders. Jimin tried not to think of what others thought of the two of them, it was not important in the grand scheme of things. Because at this moment Jimin was stranded in the small space between hell and heaven, a mixture of the two. The pain on his butt made his mind sharp, like he was finally awake after all these hours of living a life of a zombie. He put his hand out in protest, to rub the pain away that was making his eyes sting a little. The first one had left his mouth open, more from shock than the actual pain of it. But the second hurt the most; his butt had felt sore after the initial one and now Taehyung was hitting a tender place. Jimin hid most of his face in his white hoodie and under his blond hair, but the rest he tried to bury in the cold floor of the race track, his nose was being rubbed hard against the grainy floor but the idea of someone seeing his face whilst this was happening was even more agonising.

 

The last two blow came as Taehyung was gripping Jimin’s wrist, high above himself. He felt restrained and unable to move. Jimin was a contemporary dancer, his entire being rested on the fluid movement of his body and feeling like he was one with the air; no restrictions whatsoever hindered his body when he moved. He bathed in the lightheadedness he gained from dancing, gliding across the stage as if on ice, moving his limbs like they were one. And yet, Jimin found a different sort of pleasure from being pinned to the ground with Taehyung’s knees, his arms being held in place by the vice that was Taehyung’s grip. Even though his outer body was controlled by Taehyung, Jimin felt like his insides had turned to jelly. The butterflies that had been growing so pleasantly in their caccons had now erupted and taken flight, they were soaring through every one of his cells, making him giddy with pain and pleasure. He writhed under Taehyung, controlling his facial expressions but not being able to hold back the groan that escaped him. It’s not like anyone could hear him amidst the thousands of screams from the fans watching… Jimin did a double take and tried to get out of Taehyung’s grip, everyone was watching them! ‘Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god’ Jimin thought.

 

Taehyung tried to open his legs up, his motive was to get one of his legs in between, to make himself more comfortable but Jimin found himself tightly holding his knees together. He was not going to let the fool that was his best friend sit in between his legs. More for the sake of their reputation than anything else. Jimin was also aware of his little man that rested there, and what would happen to him if he found Taehyung so close to him. No, he could not let Taehyung win this round, it was both of their careers that were at stake now. And so he pressed his knees as closely as possibly, thought about his grandmother back in Busan and willed his cock to remain as it was.

 

They had reached home that night closer to midnight, all of them fighting for the bathroom to shower away the sweat and dirt of the day, the pressure of being in public as well as the gaze of the fans. Showers did more than just clean idols physically, they also helped to symbolise a cleansing of their souls and minds. A barrier to the word that they kept on being pushed into; lust and longing of fans that they would never ever consider as their own.

 

Jimin stood on the edge of the bathtub, they had a small mirror on the cabinet of bathroom. It had specks of toothpaste and god knows what else on it, making it hard to see the reflection that Jimin so wanted to see. So he lightly jumped off, and after months, cleaned the mirror because today the reflection on the surface of the mirror mattered. He was going to embed the image of Taehyung’s fingerprints on his butt for the rest of his life. Because that’s what best friends did. No judging.

 

That was the catalyst to all of Jimin’s feelings. It was like the weight of Taehyung on top of him had unleashed a dam of emotions into his circulatory system. And now he could no longer just think of Taehyung as his best friend. He wanted more. So so so much more.

 

When they slept now Jimin found himself closing the gap between their two bodies. Felt himself draw Taehyung closer to his own self when Taehyung was asleep and unaware of how hot and bothered Jimin felt even in the midst of winter. When Taehyung danced, Jimin pretended to be monitoring him, looking for mistakes but in fact all he was doing was learning all of the curves and dips of his body. Seeing how his limbs moved and imaging them against himself. Sometimes he would go and show Taehyung how to do a certain step, placing his palm on Taehyung’s back, lower them slowly as Taehyung put his tongue between his teeth and concentrated on his movement more than he did on where Jimin was touching. He would back hug Taehyung more often, wait for Taehyung to lean back into Jimin, feel the entire of his front press against the taller boy. Hold his waist and pretend that it was all normal. Pretend like he wasn’t trying to memorise the feel of his cock against his best friends butt.

 

It was rehearsal month for the group, meaning they would spend 12 hours of the day practicing their set list before the tour started and the rest 12 complaining of their sore bodies. Jimin loved that they all had solo performances on this tour, it was a time for them all to shine in their own lights and mostly because he got the chance to catch his breath for 6 entire songs. Yoongi and Jin were sat on the chair at the back of the room, both holding their iced coffees and bickering like the married couple that they were. Hoseok had a scowl on his face as he watched the small laptop screen for their practice of Bapsae, which Jimin loved performing more than he thought was necessary; the hip thrusts just suited him a lot. And Jungkook and Taehyung were dancing to Drake in the middle of the room. Which Namjoon was watching with a grin on his face, all dimples and eyes. Jimin was the one who was stressed to the maximum, it was his turn next to practice Lie and he needed to make sure he hit every beat just on time. Being a perfectionist was where most of Jimin’s brain cells wasted their limited resources.

 

So he danced, tried to lose himself to the beat of the music and blur out the room. Nothing mattered at this moment but himself and his backup dancers doing a great job...only that this time when he lifted his head up his eyes met that of Taehyung’s and it was the prettiest sight he had ever encountered. Taehyung’s pupils were dilated so that all you could see where them and them only. Jimin was scared of this Taehyung, the one who was biting his lower lip with a gaze that followed every one of Jimin’s moves. He felt like he was a prey, with as much of a survival rate as that of a limping deer in front of a tiger. He wondered if this is what he looked like “monitoring” Taehyung.

 

Jimin wondered into Taehyung’s room that night, they had moved houses and now Taehyung shared a room with Namjoon. He wished he could turn back to when they both shared the same bunk bed, where he could hear every breath of Taehyung if he concentrated hard enough. Where each turn and twist of Taehyung’s body was felt in his own bed, the metal bed rails conveying the movement from the top to the bottom.

 

He was leaning into Taehyung’s side, his head resting on his chest, left leg over that of both of the taller boys. His hand rested softly on Taehyung’s tummy, it was one of his favorite body parts of Taehyung. Jimin had read that their fans had compared Taehyung’s little stomach to that of a Korean pear. Jimin wanted to bite it, see if it tasted just as sweet.

 

“What do you think about when you watch me perform lie?” Jimin drooled out, his heart felt like it was lodged in his mouth. He could feel it’s beat everywhere. His fingertips were burning where they rested on Taehyung, and he could hear the blood rushing in his ears like that of a train passing by too close. He tasted shame like it was a bitter candy. ‘Why did I ask that?’ He wondered. A bit too late.

 

Taehyung grew stiff underneath him, switched his phone off and turned away to face the wall. Pulling his covers over his mouth, Jimin heard him mumble, “that you dance really well.” And that was all that he had managed to get out of him.

 

Jimin and Taehyung would go to Hawaii for their honeymoon in 2026 when they got married. Because that's where it all fell into place.

 

Hawaii was already Jimin’s most loved island, as someone who loved the sea it was his ideal place to be. His tense body and overworked mind finally felt at peace when he sat on the edge sea and looked out at the dying sun. Jin hyung had described it as a “egg yolk” to Namjoon hyung, who had come to their shared rent house and told everyone about it. Jimin had laughed until he felt himself unable to breath, who ever thought like that? He had asked himself, feeling another onset of giggles coming.

 

On the water surrounding the small island was where Taehyung had cried, overwhelmed by his love for Jimin. Professionalism was Jimin’s first thought, they had about 8 cameras facing them, one for each member and an extra one for good luck. And everyone else was looking at him expecting something grand from him. But he held onto his own tears, and everything he wanted to say to the boy who sat sharing his heart out to the rest of the world. He wanted only Taehyung to see what impact those words, phrases and sentences had on him. The years of being an idol had taught him how to keep his emotions at bay, and he was using all of it to hold himself upright. Willing himself not to step onto the net that was in the middle of the ship they were all sat on, and hold the crying boy to his chest.

 

“Jungkookie?” Jimin said in a soft tone, the youngest boy and Taehyung were sharing a room but he needed some alone time with his best friend. They were in the kitchen, which was a sure place to find the maknae, he was always in search of food.

 

“Director-nim wants one of us to record the last night of Hawaii and he wanted you to do it,” the director had come to Jimin to ask if he could film the last scenes, knowing Jimin never said no, but the last thing he wanted to do was to face the camera again, and he had had enough filming time this season already. He was delegating and trying not to feel too guilty about the whole ordeal but he had his priorities and they rested with Taehyung for the night.

 

Jimin entered the room without Taehyung noticing, the contemporary dancer could always move without a sound, it was a skill that had taken him years to learn; to be light on his foot. Taehyung was swiping on his phone, his long slender fingers gliding across the screen. Jimin knew without even looking at the screen that it was pictures of their trip in Hawaii he was going through, it was their last night here and Taehyung was probably feeling upset about leaving the beautiful island and its people.

 

Jimin sat gingerly next to Taehyung, feeling like his own body was made of ice that was close to melting. He placed his hand on that of Taehyung’s and bought the phone down from where it was hiding his face. And so they sat and stared at each other for a while. Neither willing to break the silence that had enveloped them the entire afternoon and followed them into the night. Jimin touched Taehyung’s fingertips, lightly, with his own. The size difference between their hands had always made Taehyung laugh, but today he watched intently as Jimin put them palm to palm. He heard Taehyung gulp, saw his adam’s apple move in a way that made Jimin’s thoughts murky and cloudy. Jimin was tired of all this, and he was going to change it. If Taehyung could be brave enough to cry in front of friends and strangers for him, then he was going to be brave enough to open his heart and let his best friend know just exactly how he felt about him. Taehyung’s courage had won over Jimin, and now he was going to follow suit and give it all back.

 

“Taehyungie?” Jimin whispered. Keeping his eyes on their intertwined hands, unable to hold Taehyung’s gaze. “Teach me to be as bold as you are.”

 

The younger boy untangled their hands and took Jimin’s right one and bought it to his heart, “here, take strength from me.” He said softly, with his other hand he lifted Jimin’s chin so that their eyes were locked again.

 

“You told everyone I am your dearest friend, singled me out from the rest as someone who is more special to you. But what if I told you even this wasn’t enough for me?”

 

“And what would be enough for you Jimin-ah?”

 

“You talked of how we woke up together and went to school, how we practiced in the afternoon in the same room and spent our nights talking. But what if I wanted to wake up next to you every morning for the rest of our lives? To spend our afternoons bathing in the sun and to sleep tangled up together every night?”

 

“What if I said I wanted that too?”

 

There was a smile on Taehyung’s lips, a soft one that he used only when he looked at Jimin. And Jimin felt himself finally melt, turn into a puddle of water that only Taehyung could contain. He couldn’t do this anymore.

 

“I want to kiss you.” Jimin breathed out.

 

“So kiss me,” Taehyung answered.

 

He took his hand away from where they rested on Taehyung’s heart and put both of them on Taehyung’s face, grazed his thumb on his soft cheeks. Before pressing his lips to that of the love of his life.

 

Taehyung tasted like the first gush of water after dawn. A part of the ocean that Jimin loved so much. Jimin felt the same happiness coursing through himself as he did the first time his parents had taken him to the beach, it was like the waves crashing at his feet, bold enough to drown him but exciting enough that he did not back away. He giggled, his lips still pressed tightly to his lovers.

 

Jimin knew Taehyung was looking at him, felt his eyes on him, and he snapped his own open too. He felt himself lean back, so he could read the expression written on his favourite persons face. He was not disappointed to see excitement written all across it.

 

“Let me teach you to be bolder than you have ever been,” Taehyung whispered into Jimin’s ears, his lips brushing against it and lighting the entire of Jimin’s body ablaze, before pulling him towards himself again and grinning into their second kiss.

 

At sunrise, as the island was waking up for the day ahead, Jimin would find out his answer to one of this most curious thoughts; that Taehyung’s tummy did in fact taste sweet, as sweet as sea salt.