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The Sound of Your Heart

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            Taehyung loved going to school every day. Not because he was some kind of nerd, no, he liked the social atmosphere and seeing his friends; he could do without the homework, the teachers, the grades, the studying, the. . . well, school part of school, but otherwise he loved going. He was naturally a morning person, so it was never an issue to get up earlier during the week, he was always excited to get to school and see his people, act goofy, and make others laugh. Taehyung had a knack for making others like him, make them feel at ease in his presence, so he made friends easily and acquaintances even easier. Any chance to meet someone new, get inside their head and pull their pieces apart to discover what made them tick was something he relished; he was a people person, plain and simple. Today, Taehyung was buzzing with even more excitement as he woke up earlier than usual because last week his teacher had uttered the two word combination that excited him the most in the world:

            New student.

            It was with this in mind that Taehyung sprung out of bed with a gleeful cackle, his alarm clock sat forgotten and unnecessary on today of all days. He sprinted to the bathroom, slipping in just ahead of his younger sister and slamming the door in her face, grinning as she started screaming at him from the other side of the door. “Oppa! I need to shower first, you know I have to blow dry my hair!”

            “That sounds like a you problem, not a me problem!” Taehyung responded, his voice chipper and singsong as he quickly flipped the doors lock. The knob rattled as she tried in vain to open it.

            “Oppa, come on!”

            “Calm down, Eonjin! I’ll just be like, ten minutes! Go eat breakfast or something.” His sister was still shouting through the door when he got in the shower, the warm spray drowning her out. He hurried through the familiar motions before jumping out to dry off, heart beat pounding erratically in excitement. He nearly bowled his sister over as he hurried out of the bathroom and towards his room, laughing when she yelled behind him and paying no mind to what she was saying. He dressed quickly in his school uniform, pouting at the boring black, white, and navy. His school was somewhat old fashioned when it came to uniforms, the black slacks, polished black shoes, white dress shirt, navy blazer, and blue tie so overdone, in Taehyung’s opinion. He left his dress shirt untucked, the top two buttons undone as he chose to forgo the tie today, slipping it in his back pack (he knew someone would call him out on the dress code at some point, but until then he refused to wear the noose) and instead putting on his favorite Gucci necklace that matched the earrings in his ears. He sprayed on his favorite cologne and styled his messy orange locks in the mirror before giving his reflection a fierce expression, bursting into laughter before heading out of his room.

            Taehyung waved at his family gathered around the dinner table eating breakfast, opening the fridge and snagging the strawberry milk. He took a long pull from it before putting it away, grinning at the disapproving look on his mother’s face. “Good morning! What a fabulous day, right?”

             “Taehyung-ah, dear, did you lock your sister out of the bathroom this morning?” His mother sounded a tad bit exasperated, eyeing him as he went to the fruit bowl. His little brother, Jeonggyu, snickered from where he sat shoveling pancakes into his mouth, making eye contact with Taehyung as the elder boy winked. Eonjin gave the younger boy a hard look before turning back to see Taehyung’s response.

            “If by ‘lock her out’ you mean, ‘reach the bathroom first and take a shower’, then yes. I did. First one to the bathroom gets it first, right Eomma?” His tone was considering. Their mother made a sound he took as amused approval and he lifted a banana, pointing it threatening at Eonjin with a mock severe look on his face. “Them’s the rules, sis.”

            “You pushed by me!” She disagreed, eyes narrowed in annoyance.

            “I touched not a hair on your head!” Taehyung walked backwards towards the door, banana in hand as he kept his gaze locked with Eonjin’s, his other hand up in a mock vow. “It’s not my fault you either walk slow or you woke up late. Pick one of those explanations and I’d be happy to sign it on paper.”

            “Eomma!” Eonjin turned pleadingly to their mom, and Taehyung made his excited escape, instrument case banging against his knee.

            “Gotta go, love you, bye!” The door slammed behind him, shutting out the sounds of his family as he jogged to the car pulling into his driveway. The blue truck as a bit of a klunker, rusty around the edges and in the habit of billowing black smoke that didn’t make it people friendly, even if it was really reliable, not unlike its owner. Throwing open the passenger door, Taehyung shouted with glee. “Yoongi-hyung, just in time! I would suggest we make like a tree and get the hell out of here before Eonjin-ah comes running out after me!”

            The blonde haired boy just sighed from where he was slumped behind the wheel (super close to it because he was so short, Taehyung had to hide a smile behind his hand), giving the younger boy a look. “That’s not even the idiom.”

            Shutting the door behind himself and buckling, Taehyung glanced nervously at the door. “Okay hyung. Can we go now?”

            “Scared of Eonjin-ah?” Yoongi barely had the energy to do anything in the morning so Taehyung was impressed when he smirked slightly before shifting the car into reverse, backing out of the driveway.

            “Absolutely. Once when I was eight, I cut her barbie dolls hair. Next thing I knew I was waking up from a nap with no bangs and my nostrils super glued shut.” Taehyung reminisced as he sank back into the comfortable seat. “On the plus side, the hospital has awesome food in the cafeteria on Christmas eve.”

            “Your life is hilarious.”

            Taehyung grinned as they pulled up in front of an apartment complex, his fingers drumming on his thighs. “It’s great, right?”

            “I meant that in a bad way.” Yoongi grumbled, falling forwards against the steering wheel again. “Why do I bother with sarcasm with you? You never get it.”

            “Are we picking Kookie up today too?” Taehyung ignored Yoongi’s question in favor of his own. The blonde sighed as a tall figure made his way down the stairs, a spring in his step as he practically danced to the car, his movements were that graceful. Taehyung snickered at the taken look on Yoongi’s face, covering his mouth to stifle the noise when the older boy glared.

            “No. He had soccer or football or some other inane sport I don’t give a shit about.” Yoongi’s voice was grumpy, even as his eyes locked on the tall boy finally reaching the door. The boy had wavy red locks parted down the middle, a blindingly white heart shaped smile on his face as he motioned for one of them to roll the window down; once Taehyung complied, the smile grew wider.

            “Good morning Taehyung-ah, hyung!” Leaning through the window, the boy placed a chaste kiss on Taehyung’s cheek before leaning back with another grin. “Tae, you’re in my seat.”

            Smile immediately turning to a pout, Taehyung crossed his arms huffily. “But I was here first Hobi-hyung!”

            “And I’ll be there last.” The sweetness was a little menacing and Taehyung whined in protest.

            “But—“

            “Move.” Yoongi’s voice had Taehyung opening the door quickly and hopping out much to the red heads amusement, moving to the backseat without another word. “Good morning Hoseok-ah.” His tone was significantly kinder, almost soft, as he offered the red head a small smile as he slid into the passenger seat. Hoseok grinned, a little pink as he leaned in to place a (lingering) kiss on the apple of Yoongi’s cheek.

            “Morning.” Hoseok’s voice was hushed as he fell back into his seat.

            “Hyung, I thought you said there were no such things as good mornings, only terrible ones? What was that you said the other day. . . That mornings, and morning people, were so annoying that if you could you would damn them all to hell and cast the world into eternal shadows where the only things that mattered were your coffee and introspective tendency to disassociate from this reality?” Taehyung asked, his head suddenly between the front seats as he smiled cheekily at the blonde.

            “I did not.” Yoongi turned, putting his hand on Taehyung’s face and shoving him, the younger boy flailing backwards with a cry. “And if I did, by morning people I meant you.” His cheeks were a little flushed as he glared back at the orange haired boy before turning around with a huff. Hoseok gave a delighted laugh, lifting his phone and taking a picture of Yoongi; the blonde turned redder, directing his glare at the red head now, though it was more of a pout then anything when turned on Hoseok. “Damn it Hoseok, what did I say about pictures?”

            “That you’d let me take them as frequently as I want as long as I’m cute?” Hoseok batted his eyelashes ridiculously at the blonde, hands folded together with a pretty smile. “And I am cute, right?” Yoongi just let out a long suffering sigh before pulling out of the parking lot, muttering about flaming haired morons, but Hoseok and Taehyung just laughed.

            Taehyung was nearly vibrating with excitement as he stared out the window, fingers tapping on the car’s windowsill as the buildings and cars outside passed in a blur. He was anxious for the older boys to drop him off, he still had to make a pit stop by the band room and drop his saxophone off before class. If possible, he wanted to stop by the cafeteria for strawberry juice before they ran out for the day, maybe sneak an extra into his backpack and—

            “Will you stop tapping, for Christ’s sake.” Yoongi’s irritated voice cut into Taehyung’s thought process, the younger boy perking up. “That’s irritating as fuck.”

            “What’s wrong, Tae?” Hoseok had turned around in his seat, a friendly smile on his face despite Yoongi’s grumblings for him to turn around in his seat and face front. The red head stayed where he was on his knees, arms folded over the headrest as he quirked an eyebrow at Taehyung. “Everything okay?”

            “Everything’s great!” Taehyung practically cheered, hands dancing in the air as he spoke. “I’m just really excited! Did I tell you what Mr. Lee said last week?”

            “New student?” Hoseok and Yoongi said together, one fondly and the other in exasperation.

            “Yes! I seriously can’t wait, the last time we had a new student was a year and a half ago!” Taehyung grinned as his school came into view. “And you guys know exactly what happened then! Namjoon and Seokjin-hyung have been inseparable ever since.”

            “So, you keep reminding us.” Yoongi pulled up to the curb, coming to a stop slowly. “Will you get out?”

            “Why are you rushing me?” Taehyung gasped in faux shock, hand coming up to cover his chest. “Are you going to try something indecent with Hobi-hyung? Because no means no hyung—”

            “I will literally kill you if you don’t get the hell out of my vehicle right now.” The blonde was bright red as he made eye contact with Taehyung, the younger making a face as Hoseok giggled from the passenger seat.

            “Okay, okay! I’m going! Buh-bye Hyungs!” Taehyung opened his door and grabbed his sax and backpack. “Thanks for the ride!” He waved briefly, grinning at Yoongi rolling his eyes and Hoseok blowing him a kiss, before hurrying towards the front doors. A lot of people called hellos to him as he walked down the halls, others waving and a few stopping to engage him in brief conversation. He was positively beaming as he reached the band room, stowing his instrument away before hurrying to the cafeteria.

            “Taehyung-hyung!” A warm voice called as he entered the large, open room. He searched the room for the disembodied voice before he was hit from behind, tumbling and nearly hitting the ground with a terrified squeak.

            “Damn it, Jungkook! Are you trying to kill me?” Taehyung whined as he got his footing, shrugging the ridiculously large boy off his back and trying not to smile at his giggles.

            “Sorry hyung, got excited. New student!”

            Taehyung visibly brightened, all pretenses of being annoyed flitting away. “I know right! Have you heard anything?”

            “Only that the transfer is a guy.”

            Taehyung felt a thrill of excitement course down his spine as he and Jungkook headed towards the coolers. “Awesome! I’m ready to make our group of six a group of seven!”

            Jungkook snorted as he reached into a cooler, handing Taehyung two bottles of strawberry juice. “How are you so sure that’ll happen? What if he doesn’t like you?” He sorted through the coolers contents before letting out an excited cry as he pulled out a banana milk.

            Taehyung gave him an aghast look, almost affronted, as they moved to the counter to pay. “Why wouldn’t he like me? People love me! I’m lovely.” He handed over his cash, winking when the girl giggled; he turned to the younger boy and gestured to the cashier. “See? She likes me.”

            “Oh my god.” Jungkook pushed him out of the way, handing over his money with an apologetic smile. “Sorry about him, he was raised by animals.” The girl was flushed red, watching in confusion as Jungkook grabbed the front of Taehyung’s blazer and dragged him away. Taehyung was still smiling when the cafeteria doors swung shut and Jungkook shook him a little. “Dude! You can’t just say things like that! What’s wrong with you?”

            “My therapist always said I was a tad bit neurotic mixed with hyperactive tendencies. I just go with creative.” He shuffled the drinks into the crook of his elbow to give Jungkook a muted version of his signature jazz hands, the younger boy shaking his head on a laugh before they were headed up the stairs to the second floor.

            “There’s definitely something wrong with you Taehyung-hyung, but I guess I like you anyways. Hey, bring the new guy with you to lunch! If he can put up with you long enough to get to lunch, that is!” Jungkook waved with a grin as he ducked into his classroom, avoiding the swipe to the head Taehyung aimed at him.

            The older boy rolled his eyes fondly, moving two doors down and entering his classroom. Classmates called good morning to him and he waved in response as he made his way to his desk and tossed his bag to the floor before sitting down heavily into it. He opened a juice and took a long sip, relishing in the sweetness as he gazed out the window to his left and brought one of his feet up on his desktop, his other arm dangling over the back of the chair. He ignored the murmuring as the classroom slowly started to fill up, nearly vibrating with energy when he glanced behind him to the only empty desk in the room with a smile. He knew others were doing the same, his class was full of talkative and inquisitive people (much to most of their teacher’s dismay) and a new student was something different, something nonmundane. The air was shimmery with excited whispers and hopeful gazes, Taehyung’s leg bouncing impatiently under his desk as he glanced out the window again. Taehyung was not a patient person by nature. He was very much all about instant gratification and living in the moment, charging into things head on without a care for the consequences, not unlike a bull in a china shop.

            It was an agonizing ten minutes before the teacher finally walked in the classroom door nearest to the whiteboard, pushing his glasses up with a friendly smile on his face. Taehyung immediately corrected his posture, straightening up with a smile. “Good morning class! How are you all?” There were polite mutterings throughout the room as they answered him, making his bright smile grow. “Today we have a new student! Come on in.” Mr. Lee Jinki turned towards the door, beckoning the person on the other side.

            Taehyung’s breath whooshed out of him in a near gasp as the boy stepped into the room, barely hearing the excited whispers around him. He was petite, on the shorter side with a slimmer build and pale skin, his inky black hair perfectly coiffed and shining under the overhead lights. Taehyung’s eyes darted up to his face, a small nose, plush lips, and full cheeks that made him almost cherub-like, and a set of black frames perched in front of dark brown eyes. He had a bag draped over his shoulder, his (small!) hands twisted together in front of himself, a self-conscious look on his face though he had a small hesitant smile trembling on his lips. He looked anxious and for some odd reason Taehyung felt himself want to jump out of his seat and shield the (beautiful) boy from the class’s speculative looks. He was pondering this when Mr. Lee shushed the class, waiting until they quieted down before moving forward. Taehyung leaned forward eagerly to hear the boy’s voice and was momentarily confused when Mr. Lee spoke instead, forgoing the usual student led introduction.

            “This is Park Jimin, he’s a new transfer from Busan. Please be kind to him and offer your assistance if he needs it. Would someone like to take him under their wing, help him out for the next few days and show him the school?” Mr. Lee’s question was barely out of his mouth before Taehyung’s chair clattered to the floor from the force of him scrambling out of it.

            “Me! I’ll be his guide, Mr. Lee.” Taehyung was almost breathless as he tore his eyes from the new boy (Jimin) to stare pleadingly at Mr. Lee. “I’ll do it.” He could hear the giggles around him from his over dramatic proclamation and the way he stood with his hands flat on his desk, but he didn’t care what they all thought. He was glad he was well liked since nobody spoke up to offer their help instead. Mr. Lee’s lips twitched slightly in amusement before he finally nodded.

            “Since his desk is behind yours, that would make the most sense, I believe.” He turned to Jimin, who had been staring at Taehyung in shock before turning his gaze up to Mr. Lee’s. “This is Kim Taehyung, he’s kind of a goofball, but a nice kid. He’ll help you, okay?” The boy nodded slowly, turning to look to where Taehyung was waving both hands in excitement. “Your seat is behind him, why don’t you settle in and then Taehyung can show you around the classroom after homeroom breaks?” That got another nod and Jimin hiked his bag up farther on his shoulder, making his way to the last row of the classroom and to the desk behind Taehyung, his eyes on the floor the whole time. Taehyung quickly righted his chair, before swinging his leg over it to sit with his chest against the back of the chair, arms folded over the top with a boxy smile as Jimin settled into the desk.

            “Hi! I’m Kim Taehyung.” He introduced himself, despite Mr. Lee’s early lackluster introduction. “It’s really nice to meet you Jimin!” The smaller boy finally looked up from where he had situated a notebook and pencil on his desk with the edges perfectly lined up on his desk. Taehyung felt almost electrocuted when their eyes met, the deep brown seeming so soft and sweet behind black frames; he swallowed hard and worked to keep the smile steady. Jimin stared at him for a long moment before he smiled very slightly, just a small upward tilt from the corner of his mouth.

            “Taehyung-ssi, please turn around and face front.” Mr. Lee’s voice snapped Taehyung out of his staring, looking over his shoulder to see the whole class facing him now.

            He grinned to cover his sudden embarrassment, stretching his arms over his head to feign laziness before lifting his chair with him as he stood, turning it around to face the front as instructed. He rested his chin on his folded arms again, the chair’s back against the edge of his desk, smiling a cheekily at Mr. Lee. “Aye, aye Captain!”

            “Please turn your chair around right.”

            Taehyung gave a long suffering sigh before standing, flipping his chair around and sitting in it properly, pouting lightly at the giggles around him. “You’re not very fun, Mr. Lee.”

            “I know Taehyung-ssi, you tell me that at least three times a day.” Mr. Lee’s smile was teasing, shaking his head in amusement as he went through roll call. Taehyung called out here when it was his turn, before glancing over his shoulder to send Jimin a big smile.

            “Mr. Lee’s awesome, actually. But don’t tell him I said that, okay?” Taehyung whispered, winking at the dark haired boy. Jimin just glanced up at him, lips quirking just as small as earlier, his gaze almost blank as he returned his attention to his notebook. Taehyung pouted lightly before turning and facing forwards before Mr. Lee caught him again. When the bell finally rang for the end of homeroom, Taehyung sprung up from his chair, immediately whipping around to face Jimin again, who stared at him in something akin to shock from his own chair.

            “Finally! I know homeroom is only like, ten minutes, but it always seems way longer.” Taehyung grinned, moving to lean against the windowsill directly beside Jimin. “So, in this school we have all our core classes in our homeroom, but we move around for the extracurriculars at the ending half of the day after lunch. Come on, I’ll show you where your cabinet is, and we’ll get you the textbooks you’ll need for the first classes!” Taehyung gestured excitedly, beckoning Jimin to stand and follow him.

            The other boy did so hesitantly, closing his notebook and tucking it in his arms against his chest as he followed Taehyung into a side room off the classroom. The room was filled with cabinets on the left and right walls, each with a name plate of the students in the class. The back wall had a few filing cabinets, a bookcase of textbooks, and coat racks, but Taehyung gestured to the cabinets first. “The cabinets are in alphabetical order, which kind of sucks since ‘K’ is over here,” He gestured to the left, “And ‘P’ is over there.” He pointed to the right as he walked over, stopping in from of a ten by ten square cabinet. “Here’s yours!”

            Jimin glanced at him and stepped forward, opening the cabinet to peer into the emptiness. He glanced to the other cabinets, eyes landing on something and sticking to it. Taehyung quickly turned to see what he was look at, searching the random cabinet for something amiss before he got it. “Oh! You’ll get a lock and combination today. But don’t worry, everyone’s really nice in this school, and only our class has access to this room, so there’s no need to worry about your things being stolen.” Jimin sent him a dubious look before closing the cabinet door. “I’m serious!” Taehyung whined, heading over to the bookcase and pulling a few textbooks from it. “Anyways, here’s the textbooks we’re currently using for math, English, history, and biology. Super fun stuff.” Jimin reached out for the texts but Taehyung just passed by him and headed towards the classroom, whistling as he walked. He could hear Jimin following and his whistle was cut off by his smile.

            Setting the books on Jimin’s desk, he turned to the quiet boy with a smile. “I’ll show you to the cafeteria for lunch later, but to be honest my friend and I never eat there. We usually go up to the roof or somewhere outside, the school doesn’t care as long as we stay on school grounds. You can eat with us today!” Taehyung beamed, waiting for Jimin to give him any sort of confirmation that that sounded good to him. When the boy simply looked at him with an unreadable expression and sat back in his seat, Taehyung felt himself wilt a little. He sat sideways in his chair, drumming his fingers on his thighs as he fidgeted under the blank stare, reaching a hand up to ruffle his orange locks. He opened his mouth to speak again when the classroom door opened, Mr. Kim Jonghyun stepping into the room with his history textbook and a bright smile, Taehyung pouting as he shot Jimin another look before turning in his seat.

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

            The four core classes passed quickly, too quick in Taehyung’s opinion as he didn’t have much time to talk to Jimin again until their last teacher left before lunch. Whipping around in his seat, he was startled to find Jimin already on his feet, textbooks in his hands as he disappeared into the side room. Taehyung followed him like a puppy, beaming at him when he leaned on the cabinets beside him. “So, pretty boring right? All the fun classes are after lunch!” Jimin shrugged one shoulder without sparing him a look, carefully stacking the books into a neat pile in his cabinet. “Lunch is pretty good here, by the way. Not the worst food! Are you hungry? I’m starving.”

            Jimin glanced to the door as another boy entered the room, stopping beside Taehyung as if waiting for him to move. The boy muttered a soft ‘excuse me?’ after a moment, but the orange haired boy didn’t appear to notice, too busy smiling at Jimin to even look in his direction. “I want to take you to meet my friend from two classes down, Jeon Jungkook! He’s younger than us, I’m seventeen by the way, but he’s really smart so he skipped a grade. But don’t tell him that, he’s got too big an ego already. Last thing we need is it to get any bigger.”

            “Um, Taehyung-ssi? Can you. . .?” The other boy finally said after watching Taehyung babble a bit, looking a little irritated. Taehyung’s head snapped to the side in surprise and he jumped backwards to let the boy into his cabinet.

            “Jesus Minwoo, you scared me! Announce yourself next time, okay?” Taehyung scolded jokingly as he shoved his hands in his pockets. Taehyung’s smile was falser now, eyes carefully blank as he stared at the back of Minwoo’s head.

            “I did, you just didn’t notice.” Minwoo looked amused as he shoved his books in his cabinet, before shutting and locking it. To Taehyung’s dismay, the stockier boy then leaned his shoulder on the wood, facing Jimin with a smile and nearly blocking the taller boy’s view of the bespectacled boy. “Hi cutie, I’m Sang Minwoo. Taehyung’s kind of out there, isn’t he? If you want, I’d love to finish your tour for him, maybe get to know you a little better. You might actually get a word in edgewise with me, unlike with this idiot.”

            Taehyung bit his tongue as per usual with Minwoo. He knew that even with being well liked and having an agreeable personality came individuals who wouldn’t like him no matter what he did or said. Minwoo was one of those individuals for as long as Taehyung could remember, always there to poke fun at the taller boy and call him names, always trying to embarrass him in front of the others. After all these years, Taehyung was used to it and did what he did best: ignored it and acted friendly. Nothing made Minwoo angrier then not getting a reaction out of Taehyung, so naturally that’s how Taehyung always won these battles of wit. So, when Minwoo glanced over his shoulder casually to see if he got a reaction from the orange haired boy, Taehyung just gave him a toothy smile. The dark look he got back was worth it as Minwoo turned back to Jimin, expectantly.

            “So, what do you say, Jimin?” He leaned towards the shorter boy with a smile, getting in his space. “Want to go with me instead of this loser? You’ll enjoy it way more, I guarantee it.” Jimin glanced over Minwoo’s shoulder and met Taehyung’s gaze, his expression unreadable. The orange haired boy just rolled his eyes at Minwoo’s antics, before lifting his hands and pantomiming picking the stocky boy up and tossing him out the door, giving Jimin a cross eyed smile when he was done. A flash of amusement crossed the shorter boy’s face suddenly, his hand coming up to cover his mouth for a second before schooling his expression into blankness again. Minwoo glanced behind himself again, glaring at Taehyung when the other boy just gave him a sweet smile and thumbs up. “So?” He took a half step forward.

            Jimin just stepped around him, giving Minwoo a look that Taehyung could only describe as ice cold as he passed him. Taehyung’s heart leapt in his chest when the smaller boy caught his eye and gave a small jerk of his chin to the door, beaming as he waved at Minwoo and followed Jimin out into the classroom. The memory of the stunned look on Minwoo’s face had Taehyung cracking up as they exited the classroom, leaning heavily on the wall for a moment, the look on Jimin’s face was a little surprised which only made him laugh harder.

            “Wow, that was great! Did you see his face? Man, I love when that happens.” He got another questioning look as he wiped his eyes and chuckled some more. “He hates me!” He started laughing again and it was a few moments before he was able to stand up straight and motioned Jimin to follow him down the hallway as he tried to explain. “He’s hated me since we were kids, for whatever reason. Never misses a chance to make fun of me, but no worries. I don’t really care all that much, he’s entitled to how he feels.” He shrugged lightly before grinning at Jimin. “That look you gave him was priceless though, he didn’t know what was happening! Minwoo’s so used to guys and girls falling for his stunts. Good job shielding yourself from his general dickishness!” Jimin gave him another questioning look, eyebrow raised, but Taehyung just grinned, shaking his head lightly as he chuckled under his breath.

            Jimin wasn’t a talker, Taehyung began to realize more and more as he showed the dark haired boy to the cafeteria, explaining how the lunch card system worked and which lunch personnel were more likely to give you extra if you smiled sweetly at them, and Jimin just stayed silent. He nodded a bit here and there, making eye contact with Taehyung whenever the taller boy looked over at him, occasionally quirking his lips in a half smile. But not once did he speak, and as they moved through the slowly moving line, Taehyung leaned towards the other and lowered his voice. “You don’t talk much, do you?” Jimin glanced up at him quickly, eyes shocked and a little. . . scared? Worried? Panicked? Taehyung couldn’t tell exactly what the emotion was that made the other pale a bit, but he knew he wanted to quell whatever it was the moment it started to surface so he hurried to continue. “Because that’s fine you know, it’s cool. I don’t mind, so don’t feel like you have to, okay?” He smiled in what he hoped was in a reassuring manner, gently nudging his shoulder against Jimin’s playfully. “I talk enough for two anyways! Just smack me if I ramble too much and you’re tired of hearing my voice.” He quickly paid for his food, watching as Jimin did the same before continuing. “For example, my older friends prefer the ‘hand to the back of the head’ method because I’ve been known to lick palms if you cover my mouth. I also bite fingers, but don’t worry! No rabies, I’ve had my shots. I really don’t have much shame, so there’s your fair warning since we’re gonna be friends. Touch my mouth at your own risk!”

            Taehyung glanced at Jimin’s face as he was motioning over his shoulder to the doors, freezing in place, his muscles locking up as he joking smile vanished. Jimin was looking up at him, shoulders limp as his small hands shook lightly on his food tray; his dark eyes were blown wide behind his glasses, the dark depths sparkling slightly and churning with emotion. He looked both defeated and wondering in that moment, a little shocked and maybe disbelieving. Taehyung inwardly panicked, tripping on his own foot in his haste to set his tray down on the table they had been passing, hands reaching out to grip Jimin’s shoulders on instinct (nice shoulders, broad, even). “Oh shit, I’m sorry, I’m really sorry! I didn’t mean to upset you, it’s totally fine if you don’t want to be friends, I just thought it’d be nice to be your friend, I’d really like to be if you want to—” Taehyung was cut off by a small, cool finger pressing against his mouth shutting him up. He went a little cross eyed glancing down at it before following the arm up to Jimin’s face with shock, breath catching in his throat.

            The moisture in Jimin’s eyes was mostly gone, his cheeks a soft pink as he beamed up at Taehyung with the prettiest smile the other boy had ever seen; it was bright and sparkling, his cheeks puffing up and making his eyes form small crescents that Taehyung had to wonder offhandedly if he could even see through. It was joyful, so happy that Taehyung felt off kilter suddenly, his hands tightening on the other boy’s shoulders slightly to keep himself upright. Jimin’s grin only faded slightly as he slowly shook his head, hand moving from Taehyung’s lips to gently squeeze the hand on his right shoulder. Taehyung felt a return smile pulling at his lips, big and boxy. “So, friends?” Jimin nodded in response, looking shocked then amused when Taehyung gave a whoop of excitement. The orange haired boy threw his hands up in the air in excitement, doing a small jig and ignoring the looks he received before he picked up his tray, motioning for Jimin to following him again. “Awesome! Seriously awesome. We’re eating on the roof today then!”

            It was a quick trip up to the roof, Taehyung waving hello to people as they passed, giving his smiles out freely as he was pat on the shoulders or back on occasion. He led Jimin up two sets of stairs, talking about the school and its scandals as they walked, glancing conscientiously to Jimin every now and then to see his reactions. The quiet boy was more expressive now and Taehyung found himself wanting to read him like an open book.

            “Over here!” Jungkook’s voice echoed across the rooftop, bouncing off the stairwell and making Taehyung wince at the volume as he opened the door and stepped out onto the roof. The younger boy was sitting against the fence that lined the edge of the roof, a bagged lunch in his lap teetering dangerously as he waved excitedly. Taehyung grinned back, turning to Jimin.

            “That’s Jeon Jungkook, he’s one of my best friends and a total loser.” He mock whispered, making sure to project his voice a little bit.

            “Fuck you!”

            “Fuck you hyung.” Taehyung corrected as he headed over, Jimin trailing behind him. “I’m older then you, respect me!”

            “Do something worth respecting and I will.” Jungkook rolled his eyes as Taehyung settled in front of him, Jimin hesitating. Jungkook grinned up at him. “Hi! I’m Jungkook. It’s nice to meet you!” He stared expectantly at Jimin, startled when Taehyung spoke instead.

            “This is Park Jimin, the new guy in my class!” Taehyung introduced, patting the spot beside him. Jimin sat slowly, keeping his bag tucked against his side and his eyes on his tray. Jungkook glanced at Jimin before looking to Taehyung questioningly, the older boy shaking his head minutely. The orange haired boy suddenly grinned, reaching out and punching Jungkook in the arm. The younger boy yelped at the assault, immediately swinging back and connecting with Taehyung’s shoulder in retaliation. “Ouch!”

            “What was that for?”

            “I told you he’d like me!” Taehyung crowed excitedly, turning to Jimin who was staring at them like they were crazy. “Jungkook thought the new kid, meaning you, would hate my guts.”

            “That’s not true, oh my god Hyung!” Jungkook quickly interjected, turning to Jimin after giving the taller boy a long suffering look. “He’s been so excited for you to get here so he could make a new friend, and I simply said that you might not want to be friends. Not everyone likes you, you know.” Jungkook directed the last sentence at the grinning boy as he swatted at Taehyung, the older boy leaning back to avoid the hit with a pout.

            “But I’m lovely.”

            “Aish.”

            “I am! Right, Jimin-ah?” Taehyung felt the nickname roll off his tongue easily, only sparing a moment to wonder if it was too soon. Jungkook gave him a surprised look, eyebrow raised in shock. The dark haired boy lowered the drink he had been sipping as he watched the exchange, eyes a little wide and his ears pink. He carefully wiped his mouth before smiling slightly, the tilt to his lips mischievous as he lightly shrugged one shoulder in what Taehyung could only describe as a sassy gesture. He gasped in betrayal as Jungkook started laughing. “Jimin-ah! You wound me! I’m perfectly lovely, thank you very much.” Taehyung pretended to weep into his hands until Jungkook shoved him again with a laugh.

            “You’re an idiot Hyung.”

            “A lovely idiot.”

            “If you say lovely one more time, I swear I’m going to shove something somewhere it doesn’t belong.” Jungkook nearly growled, shaking his fist menacingly.

            “Kinky.”

            “That’s it. Jimin-hyung is my favorite hyung now.” Jungkook scooted away from Taehyung and closer to Jimin despite the look on Taehyung’s face, offering the dark haired boy a cookie from his lunch. Jimin hesitantly took one, glancing up and hiding a smile behind his hand at Taehyung’s pitiful look.

            “Jimin-ah, Jungkookie’s being mean to hyung.” Jimin just rolled his eyes at Taehyung’s whining, breaking his cookie in half and offering it to Taehyung as a peace offering. Giving a cry of joy, Taehyung took the bribe, munching happily on his half and quieting down. They spent the rest of lunch chatting, Jimin growing more relaxed as the lunch period came to a close, smiling more freely at the younger boys’ antics. The bell ringing signaled the end of lunch, Taehyung immediately stacked Jimin’s tray on top of his as he stood.

            Jungkook threw an arm around Jimin’s shoulders as they headed back towards the door, shaking him lightly with a smile. “It was great meeting you Jimin-hyung! You should join our next movie night, Taehyung needs babysitting and it’s exhausting watching him alone all the time.” Jungkook made a face, ducking when Taehyung swung at him again.

            “Disrespectful brat! I’m—”

            “What did I just say?” Jungkook clamped a hand over Taehyung’s mouth, eyes narrowed. “I swear, it doesn’t even sound like a word anymore with how often—EW!” Jungkook’s hand reared back, a look of incredulous disgust on his face as he wiped his palm on his slacks. “Did you just lick me?”

            “See Jimin-ah, he didn’t learn from his past mistakes. He’s been warned before. Don’t feel bad for him.” Taehyung grinned, ducking around Jimin to hide from Jungkook (as well as he could, seeing as the other boy was so much shorter than him), his hands resting lightly on the smaller boy’s shoulders.

            “Kim Taehyung, I swear to god.” Jungkook huffed, shaking his head as he headed down the stairs. “Jimin-hyung, come to the movie night, okay? I’ll see you guys later!” He stuck his tongue out at Taehyung before disappearing down the stairwell, the orange haired boy responding in like, crossing his eyes a little to add a little something personal to the face. Jimin’s shoulder were shaking slightly, his hand over his mouth. Taehyung leaned over his shoulder to peek at his face, grinning when he realized Jimin was laughing silently.

            “Kookie likes you.” He finally let the other boy go, following him down the stairs. “Two friends in one day, you sure do work fast Jimin-ah!” He paused for a second. “Oh, uh, I speak without thinking sometimes. Does the nickname make you uncomfortable? Because I can stop, I realize it’s really informal for only knowing each other for a few hours.” He shoved his right hand in his pocket to hide the way it suddenly felt clammy, his left hand gripping the stair banister tightly. “I’m not really a formal guy, but I can back it down if you’re uncomfortable. So, uh, are you?”

            Jimin turned to look up at Taehyung, eyes seemingly blank for a moment before he shook his head lightly, a bright smile lighting up his features. His small hand came up to cover Taehyung’s where it rested on the banister, squeezing it gently as he shook his head again. Taehyung could barely register anything over the soft skin pressed to the back of his hand, his knees feeling weak and the urge to lean on the railing high. He swallowed hard as Jimin squeezed his hand again, his thumb brush lightly along Taehyung’s as if in comfort before he released him. Taehyung could breathe again suddenly, watching as Jimin headed down the stairs for a moment before following.

            The rest of the day was filled with different extracurriculars, Taehyung and Jimin sharing a cooking class and gym (the latter was surprisingly nimble, Taehyung was thankful they were on the same side as he watched the shorter boy completely own at dodgeball). Taehyung’s last class of the day was a painting class, though he went out of his way to show Jimin to the boy’s study hall. “Well, here you are! Want me to meet you here at the end of class so we can go grab our stuff together?” Jimin considered this for a moment, biting his lip lightly. “I don’t mind, like at all!” That seemed to make up Jimin’s mind and he nodded shyly, eyes on the ground. Taehyung grinned, saluting him playfully. “Awesome, see you in less than an hour Jimin-ah!”

            Taehyung was turning away when he felt a small hand suddenly bracket his wrist in a firm grasp. He stopped, glancing down to see Jimin closer to him now, the smaller boy’s eyes firmly on the ground. He seemed to be shaking lightly, though Taehyung could tell he was trying to appear calm and collected by the forced relaxation in his shoulders. After a few quiet moments, Jimin looked up at him with what was akin to fear simmering in his eyes, his other hand tightly gripping the strap of his bag.

            Taehyung took a deep breath, pushing away a small bout of nerves and smiled reassuringly, twisting his wrist out of Jimin’s grasp gently. The dark haired boy seemed embarrassed suddenly, his hand starting to move back to his side when Taehyung caught it, his larger hand practically engulfing Jimin’s. Jimin had been watching the movements, his gaze returning to Taehyung’s when the orange haired boy gave his small hand a squeeze. “You’ll be fine, Jimin-ah! I’m just down the hallway, and I’ll be back at the end of class okay?” Jimin still seemed unsure, and Taehyung couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming rush of affection for the shorter boy. Digging his phone out of his slacks, he quickly pulled up a blank text and held it out to Jimin. “But if you want to, you can always text me if you get nervous? I look at my phone pretty often in painting—don’t tell my teacher—and I’ll text you back! If you want?” Now he was nervous, biting his lip as Jimin stared up at him in shock, eyes wide behind his black frames. “Sorry, is that weird? I can be weird sometimes. Forget I said anything, sorry.” Before he could pull his phone back and bash his head against the nearest wall for being awkward, Jimin released the hold he had on the strap of his bag, taking the cell phone and gently tugging his hand from Taehyung’s grasp. Taehyung was embarrassed by how much he missed the smaller hand in his when it left.

            Not good. Taehyung didn’t do Feelings™ this quick. Or ever, really.

            Jimin finished typing his contact information in, shooting himself a text if the soft ding coming from his pocket was any indication. He shut off the phone’s display before holding the device back out to Taehyung, smiling brightly with a slight pink flush across the tops of his cheeks. Taehyung took the phone and grinned his best boxy smile in return, slowly walking backwards. “Cool. I’ll see you soon, okay? Just a text away if you need me.” He shook his phone playfully, waving as he turned the corner. The last thing he saw was another bright smile on Jimin’s face as he turned to go into his own classroom.

            Barely making it into his own classroom before the bell rang, Taehyung settled in his chair and dropped his bag to the ground before giving a frustrated sigh and slamming his head on the desk in front of him, startling the girl across from him. He picked his head up and dropped it again, doing it a third time for good measure before an amused voice interrupted him.

            “Care to explain?”

            “No.” Taehyung’s voice was muffled as he ignored the other boy’s snickering, the seat beside him sliding out as the owner of the voice fell heavily into it. “Go away.” Taehyung lifted his head again, letting it hit the desk again before a hand was gripping his hair and yanking him up, unsympathetic to his cry of pain and protest.

            “Stop doing that, you can’t afford to kill anymore brain cells. It’s basically last man standing in there already.” The boy’s sharp, angular face was lit up with amusement and a little derision as he released Taehyung’s abuse locks, ignoring the pout on the orange haired boys face. “What’s wrong with you?”

            “Do you ever do that thing where you talk too much, and you end up sounding really stupid on accident? Then you want to throw yourself off the roof because you’re so ridiculously lame that that seems like an almost poetic way to go and put yourself out of your misery? Have you ever done that?”

            “Not once in my life.”

            “Why am I friends with you, Kibum?” Taehyung groaned, hands covering his face and scrubbing over his eyes.

            “Because I’m literally perfect.” Kibum grinned, laughing at himself before he leaned closer, curious. “What did you do?”

            “Nothing much. Just acted like a monumental doofus. The usual.”

            “Hey, it’s part of your charm.” Kibum patted him on the back before pulling his sketch pad out and lifting a charcoal pencil, idly doodling as he spoke. “You wouldn’t be you without being an idiot.”

            Taehyung gave him a sour look. “Gee, thanks.” He pulled out his own sketch pad, staring at the blank page. “You’re so sweet.”

            “It’s a gift.”

            Taehyung rolled his eyes and tapped his charcoal pencil against the blank white page. The assignment they had started last week was to portray a strong emotion without using words or obvious imagery; their teacher was very much on a subtlety kick that Taehyung didn’t appreciate. A sharp, loud ding from his pocket caught him off guard, the orange haired boy making a high pitched squeak in shock as his hands flew up in the air, his charcoal pencil flying out of his hand and hitting the girl in front of him square in the forehead; she gave a cry of pain and surprise. “Oh my god, I’m so sorry, I’m sorry!” Taehyung hopped up, hands fluttering uselessly in the air as he apologized, Kibum laughing hard enough that he shook silently. The girl gave him a dirty look as she rubbed her forehead, nearly throwing the charcoal back at him (with unnecessary force, he thought) before she was standing and moving tables. Taehyung fell into his chair, cheeks a little pink as he ignored Kibum’s delayed snorts and dug his phone out, the little notification light blinking blue. Glancing up to make sure his teacher was still snoozing at his desk, Taehyung quickly opened the text.

Park Jimin

[I wanted to say thank you.]

            Taehyung blinked in shock, feeling warm all over from the sudden communication, quickly typing a message out in response.

Kim Taehyung

[what? why?]

[I didn’t do anything!]

            Setting his phone to vibrate he left it face up on his lap so he could glance at it before picking up his pencil again, idly sketching a set of glasses in the top right corner of the blank paper. He could feel his leg bouncing under the table, biting his lip as he glanced at the clock (he was almost positive it had been longer than ten minutes, was the school aware the clocks were running slow? Maybe he should let the office know). The small vibration on his leg caught his attention, dropping the pencil to unlock his cell.

Park Jimin

[You’ve been really kind to me, you’ve made me feel welcome. I appreciate it.]

            Taehyung’s heart was pounding as he read the words, a flutter of excitement filling his chest. It seemed that even if Jimin didn’t like to speak, he didn’t have a problem communicating with Taehyung with other means. The sudden openness of the situation had a giggle bubble up in his chest, a yearning to know more about Jimin startling in its intensity. Before he could reply his phone vibrated again.

[Also. . . thanks for understanding. About me.]

Kim Taehyung

[hey, everyone’s new at some point! no worries, glad I could help!!]

[you won’t be new forever]

Park Jimin

[Not just that, dummy lol. Obviously.]

            Normally Taehyung would be offended and immediately whine at the other until they apologized, but in this case Taehyung only laughed softly. He knew what Jimin meant, he wasn’t that dumb, he was just choosing to make it a nonissue.

Kim Taehyung

[what else could you mean? :P and who are you calling dummy?]

[offended. wounded. sobbing in a corner as I type.]

Park Jimin

[Drama queen. Need a tissue?]

            “Who are you texting?” Kibum’s voice had him jumping in shock, nearly flinging his phone across the table. Chest heaving, he glared at the blonde who was giving him the most unimpressed look.

            “No one. Your mom. Shut up.” Taehyung made a vague hand gesture before turning back to his sketchpad. “Pick one.” Kibum hummed softly before going suspiciously quiet. It took a moment before he realized his phone was no longer in his lap, but in Kibum’s hands instead as the blonde casually scrolled through his text thread as Taehyung gaped at him. “Hey!”

            “Whose Jimin?” Kibum slapped Taehyung’s grabby hands away, his hand coming up to hold Taehyung away from him by the orange haired boy’s forehead as he scrolled. Taehyung struggled, swiping out for the phone, growling when the other boy evaded him.

            “New kid. Give it!”

            “You never text me back that quick, why are you so quick to respond to Jimin?”

            “Because I hate you, give me my damn phone!” Taehyung lunged, nearly knocking them both to the floor as he managed to grab the phone, giving a cry of victory.

            “Kim Taehyung-ssi!” The stern voice of their usually laid back teacher had Taehyung freezing where he was nearly draped across Kibum’s lap. Slowly looking up, Taehyung grinned weakly at the frustrated look on the teacher’s face. “What are you doing?”

            “Um.” Was his eloquent response, quickly straightening up. Kibum was staring down at his sketchbook, the picture of innocence even as Taehyung shot him a dirty look. “Sorry sir.”

            “Go sit in the hallway. Now.”

            Having already anticipated this, Taehyung was already shoving his stuff in his bag with a sigh. “Yes sir.” He stuck his tongue out at Kibum as he left, the teacher slamming the door shut behind him. Sighing, he sent took a quick selca of himself pouting before sending it, along with a text.

Kim Taehyung

[imbedded multimedia message]

[I got thrown out of class again, so I’ll be outside your class on time]

Park Jimin

[?!?!?!?!?!]

[What happened?!]

Kim Taehyung

[my friends are the worst.]

[You’re my new best friend.]

Park Jimin

[and did you say again?! How many times have you gotten kicked out of a class?]

Kim Taehyung

[I average seven classes a week. usually]

[no one appreciates my sparkling personality, Jimin-ah Dx]

            Whistling softly and shoving his hands in his pockets, Taehyung headed down the hall towards the vending machine nestled in a corner near Jimin’s classroom. Buying a coke and a bag of gummies, Taehyung threw himself on the ground to snack and play on his phone (he figured if the teacher went looking for him and couldn’t find him, it wasn’t his fault; hallway time meant Taehyung time, in his humble opinion). The half hour dragged on slowly, and by the time the bell rang Taehyung was lying on the floor with his blazer laying forgotten off to the side, sleeves rolled up, his legs against the wall up towards the ceiling as he played Bakery Story with one hand, his other arm cushioning his head from the cold tile floor. He ignored the looks he was garnering as random students passed him, tongue poking out from between his lips as he focused on running the best damn bakery in game.

            Someone’s feet stopping at his head caught his attention and he lowered the phone to his chest to meet dark eyes behind black frames. He gave his best boxy grin as Jimin shifted down, resting his elbows on his knees as he hovered there, cheek resting on one of his fists. One dark eyebrow quirked at him, and Taehyung laughed at the glimmer of amusement in the other’s eyes. “Oh, hey Jimin-ah! I’ve been waiting. Want a gummy?” He snagged the bag of gummies by his hip, offering the treat to the dark haired boy. Jimin’s lip curled up slightly in disgust as he shook his head making Taehyung laugh again. “But they’re made with real fruit! See, it says right here on the bag. First ingredient and everything.” Jimin ignored his cajoling with the roll of his eyes and stood up, holding a hand out in a beckoning motion to the orange haired boy.

            Taehyung let his legs fall to the ground as he rolled to sit up, grunting when his back hit the wall soundly, reaching up to take the offered hand. Jimin was surprisingly strong as he tugged Taehyung up, the taller boy stumbling a bit to steady himself. “Wow, Jimin-ah. You work out or something?” At his nod, Taehyung groaned. “Damn, another muscle pig. Wasn’t Jungkookie enough punishment?” He bemoaned as Jimin grinned at him, helping him gather his bag, snacks, and jacket. “Honestly. If we were meant to have muscles or good cardio, why didn’t our body mutate like that?” At the look Jimin sent him, he rolled his eyes. “Okay, I know the word is evolve, but I like mutate better Jimin-ah. Sounds cooler! But my point is, why do we have to work for it? Not me, I’m all natural.” Jimin’s shoulders were shaking in silent laughter, hand covering his mouth as they headed back towards their homeroom. Taehyung nudged him playfully. “What’s so funny? Come on, you know I have a point!” Jimin pulled out his phone and a moment of typing later and Taehyung’s phone vibrated in his pocket.

[That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard, Tae.]

            Taehyung gasped, shoving Jimin again. “Rude! Mean! Hateful! You’re just not use to my superior wisdom yet.” Jimin’s shoulder were shaking and he was grasping Taehyung’s bicep for a moment, his knees buckling at the force of his laughter. Taehyung couldn’t help but laugh with him even as something in his chest fluttered, the combination of the nickname and arm grab too much for the weak boy’s heart. “Stop laughing at me, you know I’m right, muscle pig!” It took a moment for Jimin to get his breath back, a soft pink gracing his cheeks (how did he look so perfect even flushed? Taehyung wanted to die, right then and there).

[Whatever you say, string bean!]

            Jimin’s smile was mischievous and Taehyung resisted the urge to grab him in a headlock. “Watch it, you may have muscle but I’m practically a ninja. I’ll get you back when you least expect it, always watching and waiting!” He threatened with a grin. “I’m so sneaky, you’ll never see it coming—”

            “Hey Hyungs!”

            Taehyung gave a decidedly unmanly squeal of surprise, hands going up in the air and tossing his phone and gummies. Jungkook snagged the phone out of the air on instinct, the gummies hitting the floor and spilling everywhere. Taehyung leaned weakly on the wall, hand over his pounding heart as he gasped for breath, Jimin nearly bent in half as he silently laughed, hands on his quaking knees. Jungkook looked between the two in shock. “Damn it Jungkook, you almost killed me!” The words came out higher than expected and Taehyung cleared his throat in embarrassment, pitching his voice back down to normal level. “Where the hell did you come from?”

            “Uh, behind you?” Jungkook was eyeing Jimin, who was on his knees gasping for air and wiping his face. “Are you okay Jimin-hyung?”

[Oh my GOD, you’re face! I’m dead! I’m literally dying! Some ninja XD]

            Taehyung glanced up from his phone, meeting Jimin’s gaze as the other moved his glasses and wiped his eyes, the dark pools sparkling with mirth. His smile was so wide that Taehyung couldn’t help but laugh in response, even as he kicked at the smaller boy. “Oh, shut up! That totally doesn’t count, I wasn’t expecting Jungkook to come out of nowhere!”

[Aren’t ninjas supposed to expect everything and never get startled?]

            “Hey, even ninjas are allowed to have their off days, okay?” Taehyung stuck his tongue out at Jimin with a pout, though he offered his hand to the other boy and pulled him upright. Jungkook had been watching the exchange with interest, a smile dancing on his lips as Jimin clapped him on the shoulder and gave him a thumbs up. The shorter boy shook his head in amusement and led the way down the hallway towards the classrooms.

            “Oh, by the way! Namjoon-hyung texted. The guys are going for barbeque tonight, you coming?” Jungkook threw his arm around Taehyung’s shoulders, smiling at Jimin when he glanced over his shoulder.

            “Yeah, sounds good. I have homework but I wasn’t planning on doing it anyway.” Taehyung agreed with a grin, glancing down at his phone.

[What do you mean you’re not doing your homework?!?!]

            “Oh, calm down Jimin-ah, I’ll do it. Eventually. Maybe.” Taehyung grinned as Jimin came to a halt and turned to face him with his arms crossed. “I will! Most likely.”

            “Great! Jimin-hyung, do you want to come?” Jungkook threw his other arm around the smaller boy with another smile. Jimin seemed to freeze for a moment, ducking his head down and nervously tapping his fingers on the sides of his phone. Jungkook waited patiently, glancing at Taehyung before slowly releasing the smaller boy and giving him some room. Jimin met Taehyung’s curious gaze for a moment, seemingly searching before slowly shaking his head and tapping out a message.

[I can’t today, I have practice. I’m sorry, but thanks for the offer.]

            Taehyung nodded, Jungkook reading the message over his shoulder. The younger boy just grinned with a shrug. “It’s okay Jimin-hyung, maybe next time? Rain check?” The shorter boy nodded, looking relieved and grateful. Jungkook dug out his own phone and held it out to Jimin with a pout. “Wait, I feel left out.” Jimin blinked at him in surprise, glancing to Taehyung for a moment; the orange haired boy gave him an encouraging smile and the tension in Jimin’s shoulders seemed to release and he took the phone. He sent himself a text before handing it back to Jungkook, giving the younger boy a shy smile that had Taehyung’s heart doing cartwheels.

            Who was this boy?

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

            “Taehyung-hyung has a crush!” Jungkook announced in a sing song tone immediately as they took their seats at the table, grunting when Taehyung shoved him. “Ouch, hey!”

            “I do not, you doofus!” Taehyung argued, pouting as he leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms.

            “He totally does.”

            “Shut up!”

            “Um, hi guys?” Namjoon finally spoke up from where he sat across from them with Seokjin wrapped around him, the rest of the table silent and staring at the two youngest boys of their group. “What are you talking about?”

            “Taehyung has a crush on the new kid!” Jungkook crowed, a shit eating grin on his face as he scooted away from Taehyung’s fist. The orange haired boy puffed out a frustrated sigh, rolling his eyes as he lifted his menu.

            “What Kookie means is I made a new friend.”

            “The new kid liked you after all?” Yoongi spoke up from Jungkook’s left where he was seated next to a positively beaming Hoseok.

            “That’s so cute Tae, what’s their name?”

            “Park Jimin.” Jungkook answered before Taehyung could reply. “Super cute, fun sized, absolutely attached to Taehyung-hyung’s hip.”

            “I was his guide today.” Taehyung explained, sticking Jungkook in the side with his sharp elbow, smiling when the younger boy yelped. “I showed Jimin-ah around the school and made the mistake of introducing Jungkook to him.” He froze, noticing his mistake right as Hoseok, Jungkook, and Seokjin started grinning and cooing at him. “Shut up! Don’t make this weird!”

            “Why didn’t you bring him to dinner?” Seokjin asked, pouting as he wrapped his arm tighter around Namjoon’s waist, pulling the younger boy closer and hooking his chin over the boy’s shoulder. “That’s how I met Joonie, it’s tradition!”

            “I don’t think one isolated incident counts as tradition Jin-hyung.” Namjoon replied thoughtfully, not noticing Seokjin’s pout deepening. “A coincidence maybe, but if Taehyung recreated the incident with himself and Jimin then you could almost consider it—”

            “Babe, your nerd babble is hot and all, but not when you disagree with me.” Seokjin sighed, though his worn tone was amused. Namjoon turned a little pink, pressing a chaste kiss to Seokjin’s cheek in apology, the older boy preening at the attention.

            “Gross.” Jungkook pretended to gag, snickering when he got a look from the eldest boy. “And I invited him! He just said no.”

            “He said he has practice tonight.” Taehyung said, shrugging lightly. “Jungkook asked him to come to movie night instead so he may show up then.”

            “What kind of practice?” Hoseok leaned over the table slightly, his red hair gleaming in the dim light over the table. Yoongi was staring at him as moved, eyes trailing along the line of his back now that the younger boy couldn’t see him. Taehyung inwardly rolled his eyes at the lovesick look in the older boy’s eyes before replying.

            “I’m not sure.”

            “You didn’t ask?” Hoseok sounded surprised. “What did you talk about all day then?”

            “Did you talk over him? Taehyung-ah, we talked about this.” Namjoon sighed, shaking his head lightly. “You have to let others participate in conversation!”

            “It’s not like that!” Taehyung immediately interjected, flushing slightly under all the disapproving stares. “I didn’t talk over him, honestly, what do you take me for? My mom did raise me right, you know! I know when to shut up and get to the point, and I’m perfectly capable letting other people talk! I know how to converse, I’m actually really well liked, thank you Hyungs. I’m perfectly—”

            “What did I say about that word?” Jungkook interrupted him with a dark look, making the orange haired boy roll his eyes.

            “Whatever. My point is, I would have let him talk.” Taehyung finished, sitting back in his seat with a huff. When the others just looked confused, he realized he never actually got to the point and grinned. “Right, whoops. Anyways, I didn’t talk over him because Jimin-ah doesn’t talk.”

            “Pardon?” Seokjin leaned forwards, releasing Namjoon, raising an eyebrow as he clasped his hands together on the table. “What does that mean?”

            “Did he hit his head again?” Yoongi whispered to Jungkook, who just laughed.

            “I didn’t hit my damn head, for god’s sake!” Taehyung cried, voice drawing the attention of the tables around them and making Yoongi glare at him. Taehyung immediately wilted under the look. “Respectfully, hyung. I didn’t hit my head.” He sighed grumpily, starting to shred his napkin slowly. “I swear, you knock yourself out running into a glass door and suddenly that’s all you’re about.”

            “To be fair, it was on two separate occasions.” Jungkook added, shrugging lightly under Taehyung’s look. “These are facts.”

            “Taehyung-ah, what do you mean he doesn’t talk?” Yoongi, tired of waiting and not at all patient, finally said.

            “Well, I don’t really know. But he went the whole day without saying a word, and he looked freaked out when people asked him questions expecting verbal answers.” The pile of napkin shreds was growing in front of him as he thought. “I did tell him I noticed that he didn’t talk much, and he seemed to panic. So, I told him not to worry about it, that he didn’t have to talk. I just wanted to be his friend. For a moment he looked so. . . vulnerable? Maybe? I don’t know, I’m shit with words. He just looked thankful, like he was gonna cry. And it doesn’t really matter anyways, right? He’s still a person, and he’s really funny and kind. He cut Minwoo down with a single look after he made fun of me, and I think he actually likes me. Maybe even trusts me?”

            “I think he trusts you the most out of everyone. I saw you guys at lunch and he was still stiff, but after school? You guys looked like you had been friends for years! They were in their own world and Taehyung nearly had him lying on the ground in tears, he was laughing so hard.” Jungkook added. “He still seems nervous around me. I touched him and he froze until I let him go, but he took Taehyung’s hand to pull him off the floor without any hesitation.”

            “He just. . . seems freaked out around other people. I’m surprised he warmed up to me so quickly.” Taehyung smiled down at his pile of shredded napkin.

            “I’m not.” Hoseok’s voice had him looking up, finally noticing the array of looks on the other’s faces. He glanced between them all in surprise, hands stilling. “You’re a very warm person Taehyung-ah, very comforting. It’s not surprising that he feels good around you.”

            Taehyung felt his cheeks heating as he took the praise in. “I don’t know about that.” Namjoon and Seokjin were giving him looks of pride, the elder a little smug. Hoseok looked as if he would hug Taehyung right then and there if the table wasn’t between them, and Yoongi’s eyes were warm where he hid a smile behind his glass. Even Jungkook was grinning at him. “What’s wrong with you guys? Why do you have that look on your faces? Is there something in the water?” He lifted his water glass, sniffing the drink hesitantly as the others laughed. “Seriously, you’re freaking me out! Where are my Hyungs at? Have you been body snatched?”

            “We’re just proud of you Taehyung-ah.” Namjoon finally said, smiling fondly at him.

            Taehyung glanced between his Hyungs questioningly, shifting in his seat. “Why? I didn’t do anything other than be a decent person.”

            “Exactly.” Yoongi replied with a shrug, leaning forward to add an extra scoop of rice to Taehyung’s bowl as Seokjin added extra meat to his plate. “Sometimes that’s the hardest thing for people to be.”

            “Is he mute?” Namjoon asked quietly. Taehyung just shrugged lightly, smiling gratefully for the food.

            “Maybe.”

            “You said he was funny?” Hoseok asked.

            “Yeah. A little shit, to be honest.” Taehyung brightened, laughing softly. “Jimin-ah likes to tease. He’s kind of a mother hen too, already nagging me about doing my homework and giving me grief about getting kicked out of class—” He froze, the familiar slightly disappointed looks back on his Hyungs faces as Jungkook laughed. “—anyways, he’s really funny. You guys will like him.”

           “How do you. . .” The question was trailing, Seokjin moving a hand vaguely in the air.

            “How do I. . .?” Taehyung repeated, confused for a moment before he snapped. “Oh! How do I know? That’s easy, he’s super expressive. We had whole conversations like that during the first half of the day. And when I took him to his last class, he seemed nervous since it’s the only one we don’t share, so I gave him my number and told him to text me if he needed something. He texts me if he has something he wants to say, otherwise I go off body language.”

            “It’s true. Kinda creepy to be honest.” Jungkook agreed. “He’d say something and Jimin would barely change his expression and Taehyung would reply like he said something. Weird right?”

            “He’s not hard to read. I had a whole day to get used to it, you only had a lunch period. Stop making it weird.” Taehyung could feel his cheeks flush as he stuffed food in his mouth, talking around it. “You got his number too, you know.” Right as he said that his phone vibrated in his pocket; dropping his chopsticks without hesitation, even as Jungkook stole a piece of meat from his unprotected plate, he pulled the device out, eyes lighting up.

Park Jimin

[Have you started your homework yet Tae?]

[I AM judging you, if not.]

            Laughing slightly, Taehyung took a picture of his food plate and sent it.

Kim Taehyung

[imbedded multimedia message]

[totally studying. finished everything.]

Park Jimin

[uwu I regret not skipping practice, that looks amazing.]

[Do your homework!!]

Kim Taehyung

[yeah Eomma, I’m getting to it]

[unless I see a cute puppy. or get dragged into an Overwatch game. or I fall asleep.]

Park Jimin

[And you wonder why you get kicked out of class all the time!]

Kim Taehyung

[I told you, sparkling personality. everyone’s a critic.]

[I’m LOVELY.]

Park Jimin

[I’m telling Jungkook!! ^.^]

            Taehyung laughed down at his phone, turning to Jungkook as he glanced up. “Kookie, Jimin-ah says he’s. . .” He cleared his throat, noticing how everyone had gone silent, watching him in amusement. “Um, what’s up?”

            “Taehyung-ah, we’ve been trying to get your attention for five minutes.” Hoseok sounded close to laughing, his hand covering his wide smile. “So, you’ve been texting Jimin?”

            “Sorry Kook-ah, Hyungs.” Quickly putting his phone in his pocket, he willed his flush to fade as he picked his chopsticks up again. He blinked in shock when he realized his plate was empty. “What the fuck?”

            “I asked if I could finish your food. You made a sound that I interpreted as yes.” Jungkook’s smile was smug as he shrugged, rubbing his stomach. “Thanks, ‘hyung-hyung!”

            “I hate you.” Taehyung whined pitifully, stuffing the last of his rice in his mouth.

            “Bring him to movie night. We need to meet him.” Yoongi’s tone said the subject was final and closed, eyebrow raised as if Taehyung would be stupid enough to argue with him.

            “Fine, I’ll ask him again. But you guys have to be nice! Especially about the talking thing.” Taehyung warned, pointing his chopsticks at them threateningly (excluding Yoongi, of course), waiting for them all to nod. “No teasing about it Jin-hyung!”

            “I’m not an asshole!” Seokjin replied, tone offended.

            “You just have no tact.” Taehyung agreed, grinning at Seokjin’s squawk of protest before turning serious. “No one teases him about it, no one pressures him to speak, no one acts overly intense. I’m serious, everyone has to be laid back so it’s as far from stressful as possible, capiche?”

            “We get it, Jesus. We’ll be on our best behavior.” Yoongi rolled his eyes as he reached for Hoseok’s tab, snagging it from the younger boy and ignoring his cry of protest. He handed the two bills to the waitress, muttering to her that he was paying for both. Taehyung grinned at the light blush on Yoongi’s face as he stared down at his phone, ignoring Hoseok’s stare. Seokjin handed over his card for the rest of the table, waving off the younger boy’s enthusiastic cries of ‘thank you’ with a smile, nuzzling Namjoon under his ear and pressing a kiss there, the younger boy flushing and squirming away.

            Taehyung watched the couple and near-couple interact and couldn’t help but smile to himself. The official couple was going on two years together soon, Seokjin having asked Namjoon out almost the moment they met, surprising them all when Namjoon actually said yes. The two just fit. Whereas Hoseok and Yoongi had been dancing around each other for years now, the older boy too scared to make a move and the younger too stubborn. Taehyung knew they’d get there eventually, they were meant to be. Tucking the thought of figuring out a way to help into the back of his mind, Taehyung stood and stretched. “Thanks, Hyung.”

            “You’re welcome.” Seokjin replied distractedly, too busy running a hand through Namjoon’s hair to look up.

            “I’m gonna head home, I’m beat.” Taehyung grinned at the chorus of good byes as he was hugged by Hoseok, ruffling Jungkook’s hair as he headed out. He stepped onto the subway, thankful he lived only a few stops from the restaurant as he sank tiredly into a seat. Pulling out his phone, he couldn’t help but smile.

Park Jimin

[Okay, I’m not actually going to tell on you. This time at least.]

Kim Taehyung

[awwwww Jimin-ah, such mercy! #blessed]

Park Jimin

[Actually, you know what? Changed my mind. Totally telling.]

Kim Taehyung

[was it the hashtag?]

Park Jimin

[Yep. No coming back from that.]

[Started your homework yet?]

Kim Taehyung

[nope. on the subway currently. considering becoming a subway cretin]

[stable hours, onsite housing. it’s a pretty sweet deal.]

[plus, no business attire required]

Park Jimin

[I can get behind that last point. I hate the school uniform tie.]

[It’s basically a noose. Legal torture.]

Kim Taehyung

[THANK YOU. i’ve been saying it for years.]

Park Jimin

[Were you even wearing the tie today?]

Kim Taehyung

[nooooope.]

[#rebel]

Park Jimin

[. . . sigh.]

[Bye Tae.]

Kim Taehyung

[wait!!!]

[it was a joke, don’t leave me Jimin-ah! there might be creepers on the subway.]

[I’ll need a muscle pig to save me, I’m too pretty for my own good]

[Jimin-aaaahhhhh]

[how cruel. leaving me to die. I never pegged you as sadistic, Jimin-ah]

Park Jimin

[Drama queen.]

[Do your homework, dork.]

Kim Taehyung

[this queen resents that.]

            Realizing the subway was at his stop, Taehyung quickly stood, fumbling to slip out the doors as they closed, barely making it onto the platform before it took off. Sighing in relief, he hurried home, calling a quick hello to his family as he burst through the front door and took the stairs two at a time to the second floor.

            “Honey, there’s food in the fridge!” His Eomma called, as he entered his room.

            “I ate with the guys, thanks Eomma! I have homework to do!” Without waiting for a response, he let the door swing shut and dropped his bag by his desk. Heaving a tired sigh, Taehyung threw himself on his stomach on the bed like a starfish, eyes falling shut as he relaxed into the comforter. Today seemed like a long day even if it was good, and Taehyung could feel the drowsiness in his limbs aching for him to just pass out then and there. He sighed and rolled onto his side, curling up and hugging a pillow to his chest on a yawn as his eyes slid close. He laid there for ten minutes hoping to fall asleep, but his mind wouldn’t stop buzzing; groaning tiredly, he sat up, eyes falling on his backpack. “Damn it.”

            With what little energy he had left, Taehyung changed into his favorite green silk pajamas, mussing his orange hair as he sat in his desk chair and pulled his textbook and notebook out of his backpack. He took a moment to snap a picture of his homework spread out in front of him on the desk before sending it to Jimin before setting to work.

Kim Taehyung

[imbedded multimedia message]

[you’re a terrible influence.]

            It was thirty minute later, as Taehyung completed the math assignment that he finally received a reply.

Park Jimin

[Awww, I’m so proud.]

[<3]

Kim Taehyung

[the queen demands recompense for wasting his time.]

Park Jimin

[I’ll bring you a treat tomorrow. :P]

[I’m heading to bed, MY homework is already done.]

Kim Taehyung

[nerd]

Park Jimin

[Rebel without a cause.]

Kim Taehyung

[night Jimin-ah, see you tomorrow!!]

[sleep well]

Park Jimin

[Good night Tae!]

[Sweet dreams. <3]

            Taehyung could feel his heart pounding as he read the last texts, a warmth filling his chest that pulsed and fluttered like a butterfly unfurling its wings. They’d only known each other one day but Taehyung felt as comfortable with Jimin as he did with Jungkook, who he’d literally known since diapers. There was something so easy about it, it was almost scary. Taehyung didn’t want to feel this way, didn’t want to feel this overwhelming fondness; but not unlike his head, his heart was hard to persuade once it had decided a path. And Taehyung was scared that it had decided on the mute new boy with pretty features and a warm smile.

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

            Taehyung’s head was pillowed on his arms on top of his desk the next morning when he heard the sound of a plastic cup being set on the desk by his head. He looked up quickly, ruffling his orange hair tiredly as he met Jimin’s gaze before noticing the smoothie in front of him. “Good morning Jimin-ah! Is this for me?” He chirped excitedly, giving his boxy smile when the other boy’s smile grew and he nodded. “Thank you, you didn’t have to do that!” Jimin made a vague hand gesture, eyes glancing to the side as he made a little jerking motion with his head. Taehyung made a small sound of recognition before he grinned mischievously and lifted the smoothie to his lips. “Oh! You brought your queen the recompense I demanded? Thank you, loyal subject. This earns you a knighthood!”

            Jimin’s shoulder quaked in silent laughter as he shook his head in amusement, walking passed Taehyung to take his seat behind him. The orange haired boy took a sip of the smoothie, nearly moaning at the taste. “Oh my god, Jimin-ah, strawberry? This is amazing, thank you so much. You can be queen now, you deserve it.” He twisted in his seat to fake a bow in Jimin’s direction, the other boy flapping a hand at him in embarrassment. “Strawberry is my favorite!” His response was a ‘duh’ look from the dark haired boy as he dug his notebook out of his bag and pulled out a pen from his pencil holder.

            “Oh! Before I forget, are you busy on Saturday?” Jimin shook his head, eyeing him curiously. “Great! You are now.” Satisfied, Taehyung turned back around in his seat as Mr. Lee walked in. He left his arm where it dangled over the back of his chair, reclined as he sipped his smoothie while Mr. Lee took roll call. He was startled when he felt a small finger tracing something on his shoulder blade, jumping slightly in shock as he glanced behind him. Jimin was leaning over his desk slightly, his arm extended as he traced the design again, giving Taehyung a pointed look when he didn’t say anything. It took Jimin tracing the shape twice more before Taehyung realized with delight that the dark haired boy was tracing the character for ‘what’ onto his shoulder blade. He grinned and rocked his chair back on its back legs, putting himself a bit closer to the other boy to whisper.

            “Right, sorry. Movie night, Kook-ah invited you, remember? You should come with me.” At Jimin’s raised eyebrow, Taehyung felt himself redden. “I mean, with us! Not like, just with me, but Kookie will be there too. And our college Hyungs. Actually, it’s Seokjin-hyung who is hosting this time, he’s the best cook ever so good snacks are always guaranteed, sometimes he even makes a full meal!” Taehyung could feel himself babbling, unable to stop himself even as he grew more embarrassed. “I, on the other hand, can’t cook to save my life. I once tried to bake some of those cookies you get from the freezer section to surprise my Eomma, you know, the ones with the pink hearts in the center that taste overly processed? Anyways, the fire department was nice about it and were able to save the curtains, but boy was that a Mother’s Day to remember.” Why was he telling that story? Where was this word vomit coming from? Someone, strike him down! “And then this one time—”

            A soft finger was pressed to his lips again, eyes widening at the feeling as Jimin used his other hand to over his own mouth as he laughed silently. His crescent moon smile was hidden behind the hand, his eyes narrow slits in glee as he laughed. Taehyung couldn’t help but smile in return, his lips parting rectangularly before he nipped the finger in front of him. Jimin jerked it back with a muffled snort of laughter, eyes widening before closing again with the force of his smile. “What did I say? You’re as bad as Jungkookie, you’ve been warned!” Jimin hid his face in his hand, making a rapid circle gesture with his finger. Taehyung blinked in confusion. “Okay, I’m lost this time.”

            “That’s probably because you’re facing the wrong way, Taehyung-ssi.” Mr. Lee’s voice had Taehyung nearly toppling over in shock, his hands flying up in the air as he tottered in the chair, Mr. Lee grasping the back of the chair to keep him from hitting the ground. Jimin had his face in both hands as his shoulders shook, soft wheezing sounds coming from behind the hands. “I’d consider it a personal favor if you paid attention to what I have to say and stop distracting Jimin-ssi.”

            “Of course, my bad. Sorry Mr. Lee. Go on!” Taehyung quickly settled back in his seat, lifting a pencil over his notebook and doing his best to give the older man his ‘I’m paying extreme attention right now’ look. The teacher just chuckled under his breath before walking back to the front of the classroom and continuing his lecture.

            There was gentle pressure on his shoulder blade after a few moments and he focused on it, taking in the character for ‘Sorry’ with a smile. He risked a quick look behind himself when Mr. Lee’s back was turned, shooting the shorter boy a boxy grin and waving a hand as if to brush what happened away. Jimin’s cheeks were pink, his eyes bright as he stifled another giggle before returning his gaze to his notebook.

            Seeing Jimin smile was worth the embarrassment, Taehyung decided as he turned back around to focus on the board, taking a long pull from the strawberry smoothie. He was surprisingly okay with it.

            Classes passed quickly and Taehyung sighed in relief when the bell rang for lunch. He was out of his seat in an instant, waiting patiently for Jimin to gather his supplies, waggling his eyebrows playfully when the shorter boy glanced up at him with a smile. “Rooftop lunch again?” Jimin nodded with a smile, sliding his backpack onto his shoulder. “Awesome, let’s go Jimin-ah!”

            “Taehyung-ssi, you mind speaking with me for a moment? It won’t take too long.” Mr. Lee called from the desk, getting the orange haired boy’s attention. There was a momentary hush as some of his classmates glanced at him before the volume picked up again, students chatting as they filed from the room.

            “Uh, sure.” Taehyung took a step towards the desk before pausing to meet Jimin’s gaze. “You can go meet up with Kookie if you want, you don’t have to wait on me. I shouldn’t be too long.” Jimin shook his head, motioning to the hallway with a small smile and shrugging lightly. Taehyung grinned. “Okay, but you can’t be mad at me if all the good food is gone because you decided to wait.” Jimin rolled his eyes and headed to the door, bowing lightly to Mr. Lee as he left, sliding the door shut behind him. Taehyung chuckled under his breath as he walked up to the front of the classroom, hopping up to sit on the desk in front of Mr. Lee’s with a curious smile. “What’s up, teach?”

            Mr. Lee was giving him an odd look, a little wary and a little fond. “I wanted to ask you how Jimin-ssi is adjusting.”

            “He’s good! He’s really studious, so he’s definitely not going to have any issues getting caught up—actually, he nags me more about studying then you do! He eats lunch with Jungkook and I, and we’re friends, so he’s not alone.” Taehyung replied with a smile, idly kicking his legs. “He’s really funny.”

            “I’m glad to hear it.” Mr. Lee shifted in his seat a bit before clasping his hands together on the desk top. “I was worried with his condition that he would have trouble acclimating.”

            “Do you mean because he doesn’t talk?” Taehyung asked, brow furrowing. “Why would that give him issues acclimating?”

            “Not everyone is as open minded as you are, Taehyung-ssi. It’s sad, but true.” Mr. Lee paused for a long moment before continuing. “Jimin is mute, it’s true. But he wasn’t always. I think it would be beneficial to him if you knew the whole story—”

            “Stop.” Taehyung held up a hand, surprising the teacher into silence. He felt nauseous suddenly, shaking his head lightly. “I understand what you’re doing here and why you’re thinking about it, but I think it’s a bad idea. I don’t want to know, not unless Jimin-ah wants to tell me. I want him to trust me, because I really like him and think we’re going to be best friends, and I really don’t want to do anything that’ll jeopardize that. He’ll tell me about it if and when he’s ready. Respectfully.” He tacked the last part on in a hurry, smiling sheepishly. Mr. Lee just looked at him for a moment before grinning.

            “You’re a good kid, Taehyung-ssi.”

            “Tell that to the teachers who keep kicking me out of class.” Taehyung joked, sliding off the desk. “Was that all, sir?”

            “Yes. Go on and get to lunch.”

            Taehyung saluted him cheekily before hurrying out the door, nearly bowling Jimin over when he turned sharply. They stumbled and Taehyung barely caught the smaller boy, steadying him by his shoulders. “Oh shit! Sorry Jimin-ah, sorry! My bad, I didn’t see you there!” At the raised eyebrow and pout, he giggled. “Oh, come on, it wasn’t a short joke! I just didn’t expect you to be waiting right there.” Taehyung threw an arm around the shorter boy’s neck, tugging him down the hallway with a laugh. “Sorry for making you wait.” Jimin’s hand came up to the back of Taehyung’s hand, finger tracing a character rapidly. “Yeah, I’m okay! Not in trouble or anything, he just wanted to talk to me. About you, actually.”

            Jimin looked up at him in surprise, dark eyes widening and pretty pink lips parting. Taehyung forced himself to glance away, heart pounding in his chest as he swallowed thickly. “He wanted to see how you were doing, making sure you were fitting in okay.” Jimin made a gesture for him to continue and Taehyung made the split second decision to be honest. “He mentioned the fact that you’re mute—wait, that’s not rude to say right? I just mean you don’t talk, which is perfectly fine, but I’m not sure how to label it! Is mute right?” Jimin’s shoulders had tensed and Taehyung could feel him withdrawing into himself, but he pushed on. “And he wanted to tell me about your backstory, about why you are the way you are.”

            Jimin was moving then, pulling out from under Taehyung’s arm and stepping in front of him. His small hands fisted in Taehyung’s jacket and he shoved the orange haired boy against the wall hard, Taehyung making a soft ‘oof’ sound as his back met drywall. Blinking in shock, Taehyung met a furious gaze, the shorter boy staring up at him with a shocking wetness in his eyes as he bit his lip. Jimin was shaking slightly, his chest heaving as his cheeks were painted red, his eyes wild with a mix of emotions. The taller boy gave a small sound of surprise when a tear finally fell from Jimin’s eye, sliding over his cheek and resting on his jawline.

            “Jimin-ah, wait! Please don’t cry!” Taehyung’s hands came up on instinct, moving forward to gently cup Jimin’s cheeks even as the smaller boy flinched away. His thumb brushed the tear away gently. “He didn’t tell me anything, I swear. I told him I didn’t want to hear it!” Jimin’s distrustful eyes widened in confusion, another stray tear falling, and Taehyung quickly wiped that one too. “It’s not my business, and honestly? I don’t care, because I like you how you are! If you ever decide you want to tell me, then I’d love to know more about it, but otherwise it’s not really important, right?” Taehyung bit his lip as he waited for Jimin to react, kicking himself for having said anything in the first place. Clearly, it was a sensitive subject, and while Taehyung wasn’t one to beat around the bush, even he knew not to pick at scabs.

            Jimin broke eye contact then, staring down at the floor. It was a tense few moments before Jimin’s fists slowly unfurled, his small palms resting weakly against Taehyung’s chest as he slumped forwards until his head was resting on the taller boy’s collarbone. Taehyung could feel him shaking, could feel the hot tears dampening a spot on his white dress shirt and he immediately wanted to kick his own ass. He wrapped his arms around Jimin tight, forcing the smaller boy a step closer and resting his cheek on Jimin’s dark hair. “I’m sorry Jiminie, please don’t cry. I’m so sorry.”

            The small finger on his chest moved quickly right over Taehyung’s heart, the character for ‘thank you’ imprinting there to stay.

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

            The week passed quickly, Taehyung falling into a routine of school, family, food, friends, and Jimin. The two were inseparable at school, and outside of school Taehyung and Jimin texted religiously, trading jokes and photos, sometimes having deep conversations where Taehyung would be so engrossed, he wouldn’t realize it was three AM until Jimin mentioned it. Taehyung had settled fully into the friendship with Jimin, comfortable and easy, though sometimes the things Jimin would do would make his heart feel close to bursting.

            Jimin was touchy by nature, giving even Taehyung a run for his money when it came to skinship. After that day in the hall where Jimin had cried and Taehyung had embraced him, the older boy (by two months, unfortunately) seemed to have no more reservations about touching Taehyung. Whether it was tracing words onto Taehyung’s bare skin to communicate, random hugs throughout the day, and gentle hand squeezes in the halls, Jimin was comfortable and Taehyung was coming out of his skin. The smell of the other boy’s sweet cologne seemed to cling to him now, reminding Taehyung of Jimin at random points throughout the day, like at dinner with his family or when he was doing his homework late at night, the gentlest stirring bringing a hint of the scent to his nose. Taehyung liked it, the smell on his skin and the unhesitant touches, the way the other boy laughed silently at even his lamest of jokes. Taehyung was enthralled, even as he did his best to fight the rushes of affection and ignore the pounding of his stupid heart.

            It was finally Saturday morning, and Taehyung had been wandering his house for hours waiting for time to pass. Rapidly clicking through tv channels, rough housing with Jeonggyu, and driving Eonjin crazy. He must have been really annoying after a while, as his Eomma finally got fed up and told him to either pick up a mop or get the hell out. Pouting, Taehyung went ahead and started cleaning the house up, vacuuming, sweeping, mopping, even braving the bathrooms, until nearly everything was sparkling. The look on his Eomma’s face had been worth the work, Taehyung smiling cheekily at her when she asked if he was sick, before he scampered upstairs to shower.

            Today was important. And not because Jimin was meeting his friends, but because this was the younger boy’s first time wearing normal clothes around the dark haired boy. The uniform was boring and now was Taehyung’s chance to look hot. He quickly toweled himself off as he hopped out of the shower, wrapping the cotton around his waist as he walked into his bedroom. Deciding to wear something a little more casual and less dressy, Taehyung pulled on his favorite pair of straight leg worn blue jeans, the ones with the artistic rips in the thighs and near his pockets. He kept his top simple, just a white t-shirt with a frayed hem that showed off a peek of his collarbones, pulling a lighter blue jean jacket with a hoodie insert on over the top, leaving the soft grey hood down. He spent a few moments styling his newly dyed hair with a straightener, letting the soft brown and honey highlights fall across his forehead and into his eyes (Jungkook had talked him into going to the salon last night, declaring the carrot top had to go. Taehyung took pity on him when he almost cried). He slid in a few black studs, leaving his hands and neck bare before finally spritzing on some of his favorite cologne (the one that he usually only pulled out for dates because it was a little dark, kind of woodsy with a spice to it that Taehyung found pleasing). Overall, he thought he rocked the boy next door look.

            There was a honk outside as he slipped on his comfortable pair of white tennis shoes and he quickly grabbed his wallet and phone before hustling downstairs. He called a quick good bye to his family before bounding outside to the waiting car. Hoseok was driving that evening with Yoongi in the passenger side of his cherry red Kia Soul, Jungkook already sitting behind the redhead in the back. Flinging the door open, Taehyung grinned in excitement. “Hi Hyungs, Kook!”

            Yoongi sighed tiredly from up front as Hoseok turned in his seat to return the smile. “Hi Taehyung-ah! You’re energetic tonight.”

            “I wonder why.” Jungkook rolled his eyes, typing away on his phone. Taehyung just smacked him across the back of the head as he settled into the seat behind Yoongi.

            “Shut up, Kookie. Hi Yoongi-hyung.” Yoongi just grunted in response and Taehyung grinned as he buckled up.

            “You’re all dressed up.” Jungkook observed, eyeing Taehyung up and down judgmentally. “What’s the occasion?”

            “I am not! I’m decidedly not dressed up. I’m intentionally casual, don’t wreck my vibe.”

            “I think that’s his point Tae, you’re so dressed down that you look dressed up.” Hoseok laughed from up front, his hand coming up to cover his mouth. “And you’re wearing a different cologne than normal. All that reeks of a special occasion.”

            “What? What does that even mean?” Taehyung whined, pulling the front of his shirt up to sniff it. “And does it smell bad? I just wanted something different! Oh god. It’s bad, isn’t it?” Taehyung’s hands were fluttering nervously in the air now, his panic level rising. “Shit, turn around, I need a new shirt! Or a shower! What the hell was I thinking? Damn it, I—” A sharp slap to his cheek startled him into silence, eyeing Yoongi who had turned around and was now lowering his hand. Taehyung just blinked at him in shock.

            “You don’t smell bad, it actually smells really nice. A noticeable change but not obnoxious, like your babbling. We’re not turning around, we’re half way to the new kid’s house already, and you look fine. Okay?” Taehyung nodded, wide eyed at the blonde’s stern voice. “You good? As much as it’d be hilarious to see you freaking out in front of Jimin, I really don’t want to deal with your whining when you get embarrassed, so calm the hell down.” Yoongi waited for Taehyung to nod dumbly again before turning back around in his seat. Hoseok was grinning at the blonde, reaching over to gently squeeze Yoongi’s thigh when they reached a red light, making the older boy turn pink as he let out a huff and stared out the window.

            “Hyung, you okay?” Jungkook whispered, leaning over as they turned into a big neighborhood. The houses were larger than in Taehyung’s area, the vehicles nicer and the lawns greener. It was clearly a richer neighborhood and he stuck that in the back of his head as food for thought.

            “I’m great!”

            “Really? Because you look like you’re going to puke, and your super pale.”

            Pulling out a pack of gum, Taehyung quickly stuffed one in his mouth, chewing nervously as they turned into a cul-da-sac. “I’m going to puke. Or have a heart attack.”

            “Wow, you have it bad.” Jungkook stared at him with wide eyes. “No time to do either now, we’re here!” Taehyung made a soft whining sound as the car stopped in the driveway of a dark blue house.

            “Deep breaths, Taehyung-ah.” Hoseok coached from the front as the brunet unbuckled and slowly opened his door. “Don’t forget to breathe, Jimin’s already your friend so there’s no need to be scared! Just be yourself.”

            “Who am I again?” He nearly whimpered, ignoring Yoongi and Jungkook’s laughter as he let the door swing shut again, heading up the small sidewalk to the front door. He glanced back as he reached the door, Hoseok and Jungkook cheering him on inside the car while Yoongi just gave him a lazy thumbs up. Taking a deep breath and shaking his hands out, he knocked, muttering to himself. “Just picking up your friend for movie night, this isn’t a date. No need to freak out. I’m calm, I’m cool, I’m collected. I’m—”

            The door swung open then, cutting off Taehyung’s sentence as he inhaled harshly (‘—so fucked,’ his brain unhelpfully finished). Jimin stood in the open doorway, a big smile on his face that nearly blinded the taller boy. He was wearing the tightest pair of black skinny jeans Taehyung had ever seen on anybody, a dark blue oversized sweater on that hung nearly to the tops of his thighs, the material soft and the sleeves long enough to give him the cutest sweater paws Taehyung had ever seen. From his ears dangled delicate silver jewelry (since when were his ears pierced? And that many times?!), he had two thin silver strands around his neck as decoration, and Taehyung swore he could count at least four rings based off the fingers he could see. The dark haired boy’s hair was parted differently, feathering over to the side in the front while the back was covered by a black beanie. His glasses were missing, revealing big, dark eyes that glimmered with joy and excitement lined with ridiculously long eyelashes Taehyung could spend the whole night counting if Jimin would let him.

            Taehyung wasn’t sure how it was physically possible for Jimin to be any more stunning then when he was dressed for school, but it was happening, and his heart wasn’t ready for it. That was probably why he couldn’t stop himself from blurting out the first thing he thought of, mind numb. “Adorable.” Jimin’s look changed from excitement to shock, blinking rapidly as Taehyung felt himself flush. “Um, I meant hi! And by adorable, I mean, the house. It’s, uh, really cute, super chic. New build? Looks new.” Taehyung was this close to punching himself in the face. Sighing and pinching the bridge of his nose, he shook his head. “You know what? Redo.” Reaching forward, he tugged the door out of Jimin’s hand, firmly shutting it and giving it a moment before he knocked again.

            Jimin opened the door again, leaning heavily on it as he silently laughed, covering his mouth with one of his sweater paws. Taehyung grinned, sticking one hand in his pocket and giving him a breezy wave with the other. “Hi Jimin-ah, how are you? Nice house! You look good out of uniform.” Jimin only laughed harder, knees buckling, and Taehyung took a quick step forward to steady him, laughing with him when Jimin grasped onto his biceps to hold himself up. “There we go, that was better, I think. Ready to go?” Jimin took a moment to compose himself, wiping his eyes before nodding, stepping out onto the doorstep and pulling the door closed, locking it swiftly (the taller boy had to stifle a giggle at the cute little black backpack Jimin had on his back, biting a knuckle to keep from making a sound). Taehyung grinned his boxy smile when the shorter boy turned to face him again, hooking a thumb over his shoulder.

            “So, two of my Hyungs are giving us a ride with Jungkookie, and the other two are setting up at Seokjin-hyung’s apartment. Don’t worry though, I have their oath that they’ll be on their best behavior for once. Not quite sure how good their best is though, so it should be interesting.” Taehyung explained, scratching the back of his neck anxiously. “I’ll be beside you the whole time, but I promise that they’re great guys, even if they drive me crazy ninety five percent of the time. They’re going to love you, I swear!” Jimin seemed distracted as he gazed up at Taehyung, head tilting to the side as a hand slowly came up, gently grasping a brunet strand behind Taehyung’s ear and letting it sift through his fingers. He smiled suddenly, the hand moving to rest over Taehyung’s heart. The brunet flushed lightly. “Thanks, I like it too.”

            “Hyung, come on! I’m starving!” Jungkook’s voice made the two older boys jump in surprise, Jimin withdrawing his hand from Taehyung’s chest and gripping his sleeve with a grin. Taehyung rolled his eyes, hollering back.

            “We’re coming, Jesus Kook! Calm the hell down.” He led Jimin over to the car, opening the door and motioning for Jimin to slid in. This got him a look and he grinned. “Come on, you’re smaller than me. It’s only fair that you sit in the middle. I’m too big, I’ll be all scrunched up.” Jimin just rolled his eyes with a soft huff and climbed in, waiting until Taehyung had followed him to grab his hand and flip his palm upright, tracing characters into the sensitive skin there. Taehyung gasped, using his upturned palm to capture Jimin’s small hand in his larger one. “Who are you calling string bean, you fucking nerd?” He held the hand tight even as Jimin struggled and shook with silent laughter, his crescent moon smile on display.

            “I like him already.” Yoongi’s voice cut in, making Taehyung jump guiltily, releasing Jimin’s small hand and grunting when the hand smacked him.

            “Hi Hyung!” Jungkook nudged Jimin’s shoulder playfully, smiling wide. Jimin reached over and squeezed his wrist lightly in response before he turned to face front again. Hoseok and Yoongi were swiveled around to look at him, and Jimin gave a shy smile and waved lightly.

            “That’s Hoseok-hyung, he’s the literal sunshine in this world. And that’s Yoongi-hyung, he acts grumpy but is actually a softy once you get to know him.” Taehyung introduced them, grinning at the look he got from the blonde. “Hyungs, this is Jimin-ah. Be nice.”

            Hoseok looked affronted. “I’m always nice!” Yoongi shrugged lightly in response, a smile playing on his thin lips. “Nice to meet you Jimin-ssi! We’ve heard a lot about you, it’s like we know you already!” Hoseok gushed, ignoring the way Taehyung tried to subtly cut him off. “Taehyung-ah talks about you all the time!”

            “Hyung!” Taehyung whined, covering Jimin’s ears, much to the smaller boy’s amusement. Jimin’s hands reached up to pull the hands from his ears, holding onto them above his shoulders as he glanced at Taehyung with a fond smile.

            “Ugh, I already said I wanted to avoid him whining Hobi.” Yoongi complained as he turned around.

            “Sorry hyung!” Hoseok chirped, leaning over to press a quick kiss to the older boy’s cheek before starting the car up again. “To Seokjin-hyung’s!” Taehyung shot Yoongi a thankful smile in the side mirror, grinning with the older boy winked subtly. The ride was quick, almost too quick for Taehyung who was enjoying the feel of Jimin pressed against his side, just taking in his warmth quietly. The older boy was listening with rapt attention as Jungkook told him a long story, nodding occasionally and quirking his lips into small smiles when needed. Yoongi made eye contact with Taehyung occasionally, looking way too smug for his own good at Taehyung’s uncharacteristic silence, and Hoseok was singing along with the radio, filling the car with happy sounds. Taehyung was sad when they pulled up to the apartment complex, Hoseok finding a spot quickly and parking.

            “I’m seriously starving.” Jungkook hopped out of the car, not unlike an excited bunny, racing towards the stairs and shouting, “Hyung! Feed me!” as he took them two at a time to the second floor. Jimin grinned at the sight, turning to raise an eyebrow at Taehyung expectantly.

            “Oh no, I’m way too mature to do that.” Taehyung replied, putting his hands in the air as he moved to let Jimin step out of the car. “Plus, Hobi-hyung will kill us if nobody helps carry the ingredients in.”

            “You’re damn right. I’m not your Eomma!” Hoseok called from the trunk.

            “Right! Jin-hyung is.” Taehyung laughed, throwing an arm around Jimin to lead him around the car. He jumped a little when Jimin burrowed closer, shivering lightly as his hands came up to rub his arms. “Cold?” Jimin just nodded, sticking his lower lip out pitifully. Taehyung’s heart lurched in response. “We’ll hurry, get you inside and warm. But for now, here.” Taehyung released Jimin, ignoring the look he got from the smaller boy before taking his jacket off, holding it out. “Slip this on.” Jimin stared at him in shock for a moment, his cheeks either pink from the cold or embarrassment (Taehyung couldn’t tell) as he waved his hands quickly in front of him. Taehyung growled lightly, stepping closer and pulling the jacket over Jimin’s shoulders. “Just take it Jimin-ah, I’m fine. It’s not even that cold. Go ahead and go upstairs, I’ll be there in a moment, okay? We got this.” It took a few moments of staring each other down before Jimin sighed, nodding and reaching out to squeeze Taehyung’s hand in a silent thank you before he headed towards the stairs. The moment he was out of sight, Taehyung shivered.

            “Not cold, huh?” Yoongi asked in amusement, raising an eyebrow as Hoseok outright laughed. Taehyung turned pink as he shoved through them, grabbing a few bags out of the trunk to take up.

            “Not a word.” He hissed, stomping towards the stairs.

            “That was really cool, Tae!” Hoseok called after him, dissolving into giggles and Yoongi just laughed behind him. Taehyung hurried up the stairs and turning the corner too sharply, nearly running into Jimin again.

            “Oh god, I swear I’m not trying to kill you!” Taehyung cried out in shock and Jimin steadied himself by grabbing onto Taehyung’s shoulders. “Why aren’t you inside? You’ll catch a cold!” Jimin just looked away and hunched into Taehyung’s jacket, his cheeks a little pink as he looked around at the different doors. If he had a free hand, Taehyung would’ve smack himself in the forehead. “Aw fuck, I’m sorry. I’m so stupid sometimes. Come on, Seokjin-hyung’s door is over here.” He nodded in the right direction, feeling a soft hand cup the inside of his elbow lightly as Jimin followed him. When he glanced down, he was greeted with a disappointed glare. “What? What’s that face for?” Jimin’s glare intensified as he moved the fingers on Taehyung’s arm, the tips running along the goosebumps there. Taehyung just grinned in response, stopping in front of a brown door and kicking it. “I’m fine, Jimin-ah.” To his surprise and delight, Jimin stomped a black booted foot, withdrawing his hand to cross his arms. A laugh bubbled out of his mouth before Taehyung could stop it, Jimin frowning harder in response, though a little red was creeping across his cheekbones. “Oh my god, don’t be like that! I’m fine, seriously, it was for like two minutes.” He kicked the door again, chuckling softly. “Geez, you’re cute.”

            The door swung open before Jimin could respond, Seokjin standing there in a pink button down and a white apron covered in red hearts. He stared at them for a moment before speaking sweetly. “Are you kicking my door, Kim Taehyung? If so, there better not be a single scuff mark or you’re scrubbing it away with your tongue.” Moving his gaze from Taehyung to Jimin, he smiled and stuck out a hand, Jimin taking it on impulse. “Kim Seokjin. Fantastic chef, sharp wit, broad shoulders, worldwide handsome. And yes, this face is real.”

            “Hyung, that’s the dumbest way to introduce yourself.” Taehyung whined, pushing past the brunet and gesturing for Jimin to follow. “Seriously, ignore everything he says Jimin-ah, he’s nuts.”

            “No dessert for you.” Seokjin called behind him before greeting Yoongi and Hoseok.

            Namjoon sat at the island, playing on his phone as Taehyung and Jimin entered the room, Jungkook munching on carrot sticks across from him. “Namjoon-hyung, tell Jin-hyung to be nice to me.” Taehyung set the bags on the counter before draping himself over Namjoon’s back heavily, the older boy grunting under his weight. Jimin watched in amusement as he shed Taehyung’s jacket, placing it carefully over the back of a chair.

            “God, get off. What are you, two hundred pounds?”

            Taehyung straightened, his hand moving to dramatically cover his heart. “You should never ask a lady her weight hyung, don’t you know that?”

            Namjoon just rolled his eyes, swiveling in his seat to face the brunet and Jimin, smiling and holding his hand out. “You must be Jimin. It’s nice to meet you.” Jimin shyly smiled back, shaking Namjoon’s hand quickly before moving a step closer to Taehyung. Namjoon didn’t bother to hide his smile as his gaze darted to Taehyung’s face. “You must be really patient to put up with Taehyung all day.”

            “Hey! I’m lovely—OW! Jungkook, get back here! You’re dead!” Yanking out the carrot stick that had been suddenly and violently thrusted into his nose, Taehyung gave chase. He caught Jungkook in the living room, throwing himself through the air and landing against the broader boy’s back like a monkey, legs hooking around Jungkook’s waist tight. His arms wrapped around the younger boy’s next, the carrot stick in hand as he attempted to shove it in Jungkook’s mouth. The younger boy thrashed, yanking on Taehyung’s limbs with one hand and holding tight to the hand that held the vegetable to keep it away from his face.

            “Ow, ow, ow! Get off—hyung, stop! Ouch, what the hell are you made of, Velcro! You’re gross!”

            “Open wide for the carrot bunny boy! Say ‘ahhh’!”

            “Ack, stop! Someone, anyone, help me! Hyungs!”

            “No one can save you, eat the carrot you brat!” Taehyung cackled, biting Jungkook’s hand as he attempted to claw Taehyung’s hand off his shoulder. He was winning for a moment before he was suddenly grabbed from behind, small hands digging into his armpits to make his hands fling out in shock, there was a grunt from behind as he fell backwards into a solid chest, Jungkook prying his legs from around his waist with a cry of freedom. Taehyung’s legs hit the floor and he was set on his ass, blinking in shock as Jungkook got away. “What the hell?” Tilting his head back, his eyes met Jimin’s smiling gaze, the older boy looking particularly proud of himself even as Taehyung groaned and let his head thump back against Jimin’s knees. “Aw damn it Jimin-ah, you muscle pig! He got away!” Jimin just ruffled his hair playfully, moving to offer him a hand up. Smiling slyly, Taehyung took the hand then tugged hard, Jimin’s eyes widening as he was pulled forward. He stumbled into Taehyung’s chest as the taller boy turned, hooking his leg around the others knees to force Jimin to the ground as he moved above him, pinning his arms down with glee with one knee beside Jimin’s hip and the other between his knees.

            The smaller boy stared up at him in shock as Taehyung gave him a boxy smile and blew lightly on his face, Jimin’s beanie on the ground above them forgotten. “Ha! Guess you’ll have to take the punishment instead, since you let Kookie go! What should it be?” Taehyung only had a moment to feel smug before Jimin was suddenly grinning, eyes narrowing playfully before he was moving quickly. He rocked his body to the left, startling Taehyung into loosening his hold to stay upright before rolling to the right, his unencumbered leg kicking straight up in the air, his spine arching until the leg curled around Taehyung’s waist and he pushed. The force had Taehyung hitting the ground on his back, Jimin kneeling on top of him with one foot flat on the ground by Taehyung’s hip, his other knee in between Taehyung’s thighs, his small hands pinning Taehyung’s larger ones to the ground. Jimin smiled sweetly at him, dropping a wink before standing up and dusting off his hands. Taehyung just stared up at the ceiling for a minute, both embarrassed and the tiniest bit aroused.

            “Awesome.” Jungkook sniggered from the doorway, the sounds of their Hyungs laughing behind him not quite covering up the sound of a recording being stopped.

            “Did you just film that?” Taehyung asked incredulously, tilting his head more to look at the crowded doorway. “Seriously?”

            “Duh. That was priceless, you should have seen your face!” Jungkook laughed heartily, moving over to Jimin to show him the recording. The dark haired boy covered his mouth with both sweater paws, shoulders shaking with mirth as he watched. “That was amazing!”

            “Jimin-ah’s stronger than he looks. That’s hardly fair.” Taehyung pouted as he rolled onto his stomach before climbing to his feet. He peered over Jimin’s shoulder to watch the looping video, unable to keep from laughing himself. “Wow, I’m such a loser.” Jimin reached up and patted Taehyung’s cheek happily, the bright smile not fading even as Jungkook threw an arm around his shoulders and led him towards the others. Taehyung pouted and followed them into the kitchen.

            “Dude, you’re way stronger than I thought!” Jungkook said excitedly. “What’s your workout regimen? We should go to the gym together!”

            “You’re so flexible.” Hoseok gushed, leaning on the counter across from Jimin and resting his chin in his hands. “Do you do yoga or something?” Taehyung was about to interject when Jimin held up a finger, quickly pulling his backpack off and opening it, pulling out a small whiteboard and a dry erase marker. He grinned at Taehyung, unaware of the fondness blooming across the taller boy’s chest as he looked back down, uncapping the marker and writing quickly before holding the whiteboard up proudly.

            I dance. I’ve been in formal lessons for fourteen years.

            Taehyung’s eyes widened in shock, Hoseok gasping and clapping excitedly. “Oh my gosh, I’m a dancer too! I’m majoring in it, actually! And Jungkookie started dancing with me in his freshman year! We should freestyle sometime, just for fun!” Jimin nodded eagerly, a light in his eyes that Taehyung wasn’t familiar with brightening his face. He wrote quickly, lifting it.

            I’d love that! What studio do you dance at, Hoseok-ssi?

            Seokjin read the board and scoffed lightly, moving forward to wipe ‘-ssi’ away with his thumb. “None of that, call us all hyung. We’re not a formal bunch.” Jimin looked surprised, cheeks pinking as the others nodded in agreement.

            “We dance at a studio not too far from here!” Hoseok replied to Jimin’s question, rattling off an address. “You should come by next week and we’ll shake it up!” Jimin nodded with a wide smile, turning to glance at Taehyung curiously. The taller boy was standing at his shoulder, hand on the chair top as he listened to the conversation in front of him. Jimin’s head tilted as he turned a bit, his hand coming up to trace a question mark on the back of Taehyung’s hand. The other’s watched the movement curiously, eyes darting up to the brunet.

            Taehyung laughed, waving his other hand as if to dispel the idea. “No way, not happening! Sorry Jimin-ah.” The smaller boy pouted, tracing the pattern a bit more intensely and gripping the front of Taehyung’s white shirt with his other hand, tugging lightly. Taehyung frowned down at him, shaking his head. “No matter how much you beg, the answer is no. I don’t dance.”

            “He doesn’t dance well.” Jungkook corrected with a grin, moving to hide behind Namjoon when Taehyung glared at him. “It’s hilarious to watch.” Seokjin snickered from where he was chopping vegetables, Yoongi smirking from his seat on the counter.

            “Shut up Kookie. And you guys dance just as bad as I do.” Taehyung said pointedly towards Yoongi and Seokjin, sticking his tongue out at the other boys before an insistent tug made him look down. Jimin’s dark eyes were wide and sparkling, his plush lower lip out in a pretty pout and his eyebrows drawn together pathetically. Taehyung took in the sight for the space of a heartbeat before feeling his will crumble. “Damn it, Jimin-ah. Fine.” Jimin’s face lit up in excitement, grinning even as Taehyung gave him a hard look. “You’re a manipulative little shit, you know that?” Jimin just patted his hand playfully before giving Hoseok a thumbs up.

            “Whipped.” Yoongi muttered from where he sat on the countertop, leaning forward and tasting the sauce from the spoon Seokjin held out to him. He nodded at the older boy, lips quirking up in a smile before he smirked at Taehyung. The brunet held his tongue for fear of retribution, though his sly gaze darted to Hoseok.

            “Hey, Hobi-hyung! Can you show me that move again? The one from last week?” Taehyung asked innocently, getting the redhead’s attention.

            “Which move?”

            “The body roll, right?” Jungkook pipped up, coming out of hiding with a small smirk on his face as he met Taehyung’s look with one of his own.

            “That’s the one!” Taehyung replied, a little too gleeful. He could see Yoongi giving him a look, but he ignored the older boy. Hoseok seemed oblivious, practically beaming as he moved around the island in full view of everyone.

            “Of course, this one is fun! Jungkookie, you do it too.” Hoseok grabbed Jungkook’s arm with a laugh, watching the younger boy sigh and give a small, almost embarrassed body roll. The elder made him do it one more time before performing his own fluid move, ending it with the hip thrust movement that Taehyung knew was part of the choreography for Hoseok’s newest dance. The brunet cut his gaze to the blonde sitting on the counter, grinning at the stunned look on his face. Yoongi’s mouth was pressed into a hard line, his gaze heated on Hoseok as he watched the boy show Jungkook the combination yet again before his eyes dragged away from the lithe form to lock onto Taehyung’s smug face. His eyes narrowed suddenly before he smiled pleasantly, turning to face Jimin.

            “Hey, Jimin-ah.” Taehyung frowned at Yoongi’s adoption of the brunet’s nickname for Jimin, suddenly feeling uneasy as Yoongi’s smile grew when Jimin looked up curiously. “You’re a dancer. Show them how it’s done, give it a try.”

            Taehyung gaped at the older boy, suddenly understanding his game. He turned to the ebony haired boy quickly, placing a hand on his shoulder. “You don’t have to Jimin-ah, ignore hyung.” To his surprise, Jimin just grinned and shook his head, hopping down from the chair and taking a step back. Hoseok demonstrated the move twice more (much to Yoongi’s growing frustration) while the shorter boy watched carefully. Jimin nodded suddenly and copied the move, his body rolling fast as if made of rubber, his hips jerking forward sharply at the end of the movement into his hand.

            Taehyung just about died on the spot.

            It was hot and seductive, very much unlike Jungkook’s shy and Hoseok’s controlled moves; Jimin clearly didn’t have a problem letting his body move naturally, making the dance seem all the more alluring. The others clapped and Jimin flushed in pleasure, hand coming up to cover his smile and returning him from sexy back to adorable. Taehyung only realized his mouth was open when the smaller boy sidled back into his seat and pressed against the bottom of Taehyung’s chin, his mouth snapping shut. Jimin’s eyes danced with amusement as the noise level in the room rose, the others distracted as his eyebrow rose and he leaned in closer to Taehyung.

            “Sorry, I didn’t mean to stare.” Taehyung said, averting his eyes from the dark haired boy. He was going to kill Yoongi. “You’re good, you know. I’m not much for dancing myself, but I’d definitely love to come see you perform sometime.” He looked down in time for Jimin to nod his head, his finger tracing the characters rapidly on the back of his hand, ‘thank you’ and ‘definitely’.

            Seokjin called them all to eat then, a plethora of wonderful smelling dishes littering the dining room table. Just like normal, the meal was loud and rambunctious, Taehyung laughing with Jungkook and teasing Namjoon when he knocked over the pepper shaker and broke a plate, Seokjin clearly irritated until the younger boy pressed an apologetic kiss to his cheek. Taehyung took the chance to call them gross with relish, laughing when the eldest of the group threw a roll at him. Jimin looked content, seeming to enjoy the food and the company, his eyes sparkling as he ate. Taehyung was happy that Jimin just seemed to fit with their group, and he was prouder then he wanted to admit of his friends making the slightly older boy feel welcome. It was a big deal to Taehyung that everyone acted so naturally, there hadn’t even been an awkward silence since they stepped through the door, the other boys taking Jimin’s muteness in stride (the only hiccup had been a few moments ago, when Seokjin asked Jimin what he wanted to study in college. The ebony haired boy had quickly wiped his hands before picking up his whiteboard, Seokjin flushing in embarrassment at having forgotten. Taehyung had been embarrassed by Jimin’s second answer: dance and math).

            Taehyung enjoyed his role of interpreter, deciphering Jimin’s looks and smiles before responding in a way that gave the others an idea of how to proceed. Jimin’s hand was on the back of his more often than not, tracing words and small phrases that had Taehyung either laughing or replying in kind. He could see the amazed looks the others threw him at how easily they communicated, even Jungkook relied heavily on the white board and texts (the others demanded Jimin’s number at the end of the meal, the conversation flowing easier after, even if Jimin pouted as he put the white board aside). He didn’t think it was all that impressive, Jimin was very expressive if you just paid the slightest bit of attention (and Taehyung was definitely paying attention).

            “Movie time!” Seokjin announced after dessert had been eaten and the dishes had been washed by Yoongi and Hoseok. Taehyung groaned from where he was nearly laying on the table, too stuffed to even think about moving. Jimin rubbed his back soothingly, though Taehyung knew he was way too amused for his own good.

            “I can’t move. Too much food. I’m just going to lay here until I die.” Taehyung groaned, smiling when he felt Jimin lean on him as he laughed.

            “Come on Taehyung-ah, get your ass in here!” Hoseok called from the living room, where he and Seokjin were setting up. “We’re watching a Ghibli movie.”

            His interest was piqued. “Totoro?”

            “No! For the last time, I will not have that movie in my house.” Seokjin grumbled from the living room, ignoring the other’s laughter. “Freaky forest dwelling creep.”

            “You take that back!” Taehyung sat up slowly, slamming his fist on the table. “Totoro is better then you’ll ever hope to be, hyung!”

            “The disrespect!” Namjoon just rolled his eyes at his boyfriend’s antics, pushing up from the table and heading towards the living room, a fond smile on his face. Taehyung grinned, opening his mouth to reply when Yoongi cut in.

            “We’re watching Spirited Away. Get in there and shut the hell up.” Yoongi kicked the seat of his chair as he passed by him, ruffling Jimin’s hair. “Let’s go Jimin-ah, roll Taehyung-ah into the living room, will you?”

            Taehyung groaned as Jimin stood, tugging on Taehyung’s wrist to get him to follow. He shoved himself to his feet, leaning heavily on the ebony haired boy with a pout. “Carry me.” Jimin’s shoulder’s shook with mirth as he tried to keep Taehyung standing, stumbling a little under the other’s weight. A character was traced into his bicep that had Taehyung gasping and falling heavier against the shorter boy. “I’m not fat! I’m just thinking heavy thoughts! Boulders, airplane engines, Seokjin-hyung’s head.”

            “I heard that!”

            Giggling, Taehyung finally stood up straight, pulling Jimin with him into the living room. Seokjin and Namjoon were sitting together in the elder boy’s oversized recliner, legs intertwined and Namjoon’s arm around Seokjin’s shoulders holding him close. Jungkook sat beside Hoseok on one side of the three seater couch, sprawled and playing on his phone. Hoseok’s feet were tucked towards the younger boy, his shoulders gravitating towards the blonde sitting beside him as he spread a blanket over their laps. Yoongi looked small and grumpy on the end of the couch, but Taehyung noticed the flush on his cheeks as he kept glancing over at Hoseok, looking away when the red head met his gaze with a smile. They were too cute for words, cozied up together under a blanket; it was all very domestic. The only light in the room came from the televisions screen, bright white and blinding.

            The only spot left was the small loveseat sitting at an angle beside the bigger couch and Taehyung headed that way, snagging a blanket from the basket by the coffee table as he moved. He nearly fell onto the plush couch, scooting over to make room for Jimin to sit beside him. “Commence the movie!”

            “Idiot.” Seokjin muttered, pressing play as Taehyung turned to Jimin and draped the blanket over him. He smiled at Jimin’s confused look.

            “You’re always cold.” He explained, reaching out to playfully ruffle his hair. The plan backfired when he got momentarily distracted by the feel of the soft locks running through his fingers. His dark hair was like silk, sliding along Taehyung’s skin uninhibited by any products, the smell of vanilla and honey stronger suddenly. Jimin’s eyes were wide as Taehyung sat shocked for a moment before running his hand through the dark locks again. “Jesus, your hair is stupid soft! It’s like you wash it in angel’s tears, this is ridiculous.” He whispered incredulously. “I’m seriously impressed, what kind of conditioner do you even use to get these results? You have to tell me your secret.” It hit the younger boy then how odd he was suddenly being, and he jerked his hand back quickly. “Shit, sorry! I’m being really weird today. It must be the hair dye. I’m sorry if I’m making you uncomfortable, I’ll keep my hands to myself, I promise!” He faced the screen quickly, feeling his face flush as he watched the opening sequence without taking any of it in. His heart was galloping in his chest and he felt as if his lungs were constricting. What was wrong with him? Why did he keep doing stupid and embarrassing stuff when it came to Jimin? The other boy had enough to worry about without Taehyung acting like a freak.

            He was mid freak out when he felt Jimin shift up and he let his eyes fall closed. He was moving, of course he was, because Taehyung was acting like a freak who couldn’t keep his hands to himself. He opened his mouth to utter another weak apology when the sudden pressure along his arm made his jaw snap shut. Jimin had stood slightly to move closer, tucking his feet under himself and leaning heavily on Taehyung’s side as he spread the blanket across Taehyung’s lap too. He watched in shock as Jimin settled down, resting his head lightly on his shoulder for a moment before he was lifting it with a frown. That was the only warning Taehyung got before Jimin was pinching his arm, the brunet making a pained sound as he gave Jimin an incredulous look. “That hurt! What was that for?” Jimin pointed up insistently, an amused smile on his face. “Put. . . my arm up?” Jimin nodded slightly, quirking his head as Taehyung slowly lifted his arm into the air. Jimin’s smile was dazzling as he grabbed his wrist, pulling Taehyung’s arm around his shoulders before resting his head in the crook of Taehyung’s neck.

            The brunet flushed bright red, the ends of Jimin’s hair softly tickling the side of his neck, his head warm and heavy on Taehyung’s collarbone. Jimin snuggled closer, gently tapping his finger on the back of the hand slung over his shoulder, tracing the character for ‘hair’ on it. Taehyung swallowed hard, hesitantly lifting his hand to gently card it through Jimin’s dark locks. The smaller boy sighed and seemed to sink into him further, emboldening Taehyung to repeat the motion. The scent of vanilla and honey was stronger now, stirred into the air by the path his hand took through silky tresses; Taehyung could feel his heart pounding, and he prayed to whatever god was listening that it wasn’t loud enough for Jimin to hear where he rested on the juncture of his neck. The ebony haired boy sighed softly again, a happy little sound as his hand moved to rest lightly on Taehyung’s knee above the blanket.

            Jungkook was giving him a smug look, a smile playing on Namjoon’s face too. Taehyung ignored them, settling more comfortably against the soft couch cushions and steadfastly staring at the movie on the screen; all he saw were bright flashes of light though, his entire being focused on the warmth of Jimin pressed up against him

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

            The next few weeks passed by in a blur, Taehyung spending nearly every waking minute with Jimin inside and outside of school. The two did everything together; from lunches and class at school, to days out exploring Seoul, weekly movie nights with the gang and shopping at trendy thrift stores; where you found Jimin, Taehyung wasn’t too far behind. The brunet started coming to Jimin’s dance practices during the week to simply be with the older boy, sitting in and watching enraptured as Jimin became poetry in motion, marveling at how different he was when he was focused and serious. Jimin would catch his eye in the mirror and it was like a mask was being ripped away, revealing a huge smile only for Taehyung (the younger boy wasn’t sure how he managed it, but Jimin always convinced him to join in at least once a week. Taehyung found he didn’t even care when the others in class laughed at him, Jimin’s smile was loud enough to block it out). Jimin had even started coming to Taehyung’s house, meeting his family and occasionally staying the night when they got too caught up watching anime and goofing off to realize the time. Taehyung’s family loved him, and his friends adored the smaller boy; soon it was as if their group had always been seven from the start.

            Taehyung was vibrating with excitement as he left his house that morning (Sunday, October thirteenth), driving his father’s SUV towards Jimin’s side of town. His fingers tapped out a nervous beat on the steering wheel as he willed traffic out of his way, music pumping loudly through the car, echoing off the closed windows (he was about to suffer heat stroke, but Jimin was always cold so he wanted the car warmed up and ready for him). It seemed like an agonizingly long twenty minute drive in the morning traffic, Taehyung’s knee bouncing anxiously as he finally reached the cul-da-sac, pulling into Jimin’s driveway. He left the car on as he hopped out, jogging up to the door and knocking with gusto.

            There were a few moments of silence and Taehyung shifted slightly, glancing down at his watch to make sure it was the agreed upon time, before the door was finally unlocked. It swung open to reveal a taller, slightly broader Jimin, and Taehyung blinked in shock. The Jimin lookalike just stared back, his expression decidedly unimpressed as he waited for Taehyung to speak.

            “Ah, I’m here for Jimin-ah?” The sentence came out more like a question then a statement, Taehyung smiling awkwardly at the boy. “I’m Kim Taehyung? Jimin-ah’s friend from school?” Why did it sound like he was verifying information instead of giving it?

            “’Jimin-ah’, huh?” Taehyung nearly jumped when the clone spoke, his voice a bit lower then Taehyung would have expected. “I didn’t know hyung had such a good friend.” The sarcasm was apparent as the lookalike looked him up and down before leaning on the door frame with his arms crossed. “Taehyung, was it?”

            “Uh, yeah?” Taehyung ran a hand through his hair, antsy under the younger boy’s stare and nervously babbling. “That’s correct. Kim Taehyung. Um, seventeen, Capricorn, blood type AB, but I’m not a psychopath. I swear. I definitely have a moral compass and the idea of kicking puppies makes me want to cry.”

            “You’re an idiot, aren’t you?”

            Taehyung blinked in surprise at the blunt insult, smiling politely. “Well, my Eomma just says I’m special.”

            “Special Ed, maybe.” Scoffing, the boy pushed off from the frame. “Turn off your car, hyung is upstairs.”

            Taehyung glanced back at the car and rubbed the back of his neck. “Well, I’m actually just picking him up. I wouldn’t want to impose.”

            “Jimin-hyung won’t want to go anywhere today, stupid. So, turn off your car and follow me.” The boy stared at him when he didn’t move immediately, eyes widening in disbelief as he made a shooing motion at him. “Can’t you follow simple directions? Even you should be able to do that.” A little annoyed, Taehyung went and did as told, turning his car off and snagging the wrapped gift he had sitting in the passenger seat before heading back up to the door. The boy was still standing there, tapping his foot impatiently as he eyed the present with disdain. “He’s going to hate that. Come on.” Turning on his heel, the younger boy led Taehyung into the house, not waiting for Taehyung to politely close the door and remove his shoes before heading up the stairs. The brunet huffed softly under his breath, feeling really uncomfortable as he hurried after the boy, eyeing the portraits on the walls as they went upstairs.

            There were baby pictures of the boy and Jimin, smiling and scrunch their faces together. A grand portrait of Jimin, his little brother (obviously the dick leading him to Jimin), and their parents; they all had bright smiles on their faces, clearly a happy family. There were photos of the boy leading him playing sports and acting on a stage scattered across the walls, but it was the pictures of Jimin that had him pausing to take them in. In one large photo, Jimin was mid spin, his eyes closed and head thrown back as the glittery material of his outfit swirled around him; he was backlight, looking ethereal. Taehyung swallowed hard as he turned to another picture, heart lodged in his throat at the sight of Jimin’s bright smile, a microphone frozen in front of him, his mouth open on a note caught in the moment; there were imprints of cameras flashing caught on film, one of his hands extended towards the camera invitingly as he sang to the crowd in front of him.

            “Jimin-ah sings?” He whispered, fingers lightly touching the picture frame. “He’s an incredible dancer, but I didn’t know he sings.”

            “He doesn’t. Not anymore. Hurry the hell up, idiot.”

            Taehyung finally started moving again with a final glance back, surprised the younger boy had let him dawdle for so long. “The pictures are beautiful, all of them are. I’m really into photography, whoever took all these was excellent.” The younger boy grunted in reply as he turned right at the landing and headed down the hall. “What’s your name, by the way? I’ve been calling you ‘Jimin-ah’s lookalike’ and ‘clone’ and ‘that kid’ in my head, but that feels a little impersonal since you’re already comfortable enough to insult me.” Taehyung grinned when the boy gave him a look of shock and irritation over his shoulder.

            “Those are the best you could come up with?”

            “Hey, it’s not like you’ve given me much material to work with!” Taehyung covered his chest as if honestly insulted, the younger boy raising an eyebrow at his antics. “Brooding, smart ass little brother with a penchant for sports is all I have to work with. Hey, are you a muscle pig too? I could always call you muscle piglet!”

            “Jihyun.” The younger boy finally said, his tone disgusted as he came to a stop in front of a door. “And if you ever call me that again, I’ll kick your ass.”

            “Understood, Jihyun-ah.”

            “Just Jihyun.” His nose wrinkled as he knocked on the door. “And I’m not calling you hyung.”

            “Also understood.”

            “Jimin-hyung, there’s an idiot here looking for you.” Jihyun called through the closed door, wincing when the loud sound of something being thrown and banging against the door shattered the quiet. “Don’t throw such a hissy fit, geez.” Jihyun brushed passed Taehyung as he headed back down the hall, calling out before disappearing from sight. “Good luck, stupid.”

            Waiting for a long moment, Taehyung finally stepped up to the door and gently knocked. “Jimin-ah? It’s Taehyung!” He called in a sing song tone. He waited for a moment before knocking again, “Jimin-ah? Is everything okay? Can I come in?” There was no response and Taehyung shifted his weight on his feet and scratched the back of his head nervously, nearly dislodging his beret. “Well, I’m going to come in. Throw something at the door again if you don’t want me to.” He waited a few moments, shrugging when there was no noise on the other side of the door and turning the knob, letting the door open into a dark room. “Jimin-ah?”

            There was a bundle of blankets in the middle of the bed that shifted at the call of his name, though Jimin made no move to reveal himself. Taehyung frowned slightly, shifting to gently set the present he held onto the desk, sliding his jacket off and laying it on the back of the desk chair. For a moment, he wished the room was brightly lit so he could see it for the first time (Jimin had never invited him over, always coming to Taehyung’s or one of the other guys places), though at the same time he was glad for the dark since he technically hadn’t been invited this time either. He let the door close, the only light filtering in through the cracks in the curtains lighting the floor enough that he felt comfortable taking a few steps towards the bed. “I’m sorry if I’m early, I thought this was the time we agreed on.” He let his low voice rumble quietly as he neared the edge of the bed. “I can come back later, if you’d like? But honestly, I don’t really want to go, I was really excited to see you.” His soft chuckle filled the room, the bundle on the bed shifting slightly. “Today’s a special day, after all!”

            He was shocked when a pillow was suddenly flung at him, hitting him in the face with a surprising accuracy for someone not even peeking out of the covers. He caught the pillow in his arms and tossed it back onto the bed. “Okay, got it. Don’t mention today yet.” He reached the edge of the bed, slowly sitting down on it at an angle to eye the bundle of blankets. He could barely make out Jimin’s ebony locks from where he sat, the older boy seeming to be curled into a tight ball and Taehyung’s heart panged. Reaching out, he gently ran his fingers through the hair, pausing when Jimin flinched but continuing once he relaxed. Several minutes passed as Taehyung stayed quiet, running his hand soothingly over Jimin’s head until the older boy seemed to relax a little. He smiled slightly before softly whispering, “I don’t know what’s wrong, but I’m here Jimin-ah. You don’t have to tell me about it if you don’t want, just know I’m right here if you need me.” Jimin didn’t seem to react to the soft promise, staying huddled under the blankets and still.

            Thinking hard to what his Eomma would do if this was him, Taehyung suddenly smiled again, scooting a bit closer to run his hands through Jimin’s hair easier and beginning to hum softly. Jimin stiffened in what Taehyung thought might be surprise, and the brunet just kept it up. After a few moments he moved from humming to singing softly. “Looks like a winter bear, you sleep so happily. I wish you good night, good night, good night. Good night, good night.” His voice was low and deep with a smoky timbre, and he found himself hoping it was soothing even as he moved into a soft falsetto. “Imagine your face, say hello to me. Then all the bad days, they're nothing to me. . . With you.” He drew the last note out, nerves giving the end of the word a slight vibrato. “Winter bear.” He took his time with the final verse, the notes lengthy and soft as he held the ‘ooo’ sound, humming the instrumental at the end of the song until it petered off and the room was filled with silence again.

            He was about to speak again when he suddenly felt Jimin begin to shake, his head lifting from the covers and the blankets falling around his waist. Jimin turned on the bed to face Taehyung, his hair messier than the brunet had ever seen it, twisted into knots not unlike Taehyung’s stomach; the look in Jimin’s eyes and on his face had Taehyung’s breath catching in his chest, the normally smiling face crumbling as he started to cry.

            Taehyung always thought the first time he’d ever hear Jimin’s voice would be when he laughed out loud at one of Taehyung’s stupid jokes, or when he finally had enough and called him a moron (and maybe, just maybe in the most private of his thoughts, Taehyung harbored the dream that it might be after their first kiss, or most secret hope of all, maybe in the soft moan of Taehyung’s name as they had sex for the first time). He never dreamed it would be as Jimin leaned into him with tears running down his face, voice being ripped from him as his body was wracked with sobs. It was harsh and ragged, a mournful keening that had Taehyung’s heart breaking as he embraced the older boy tightly, rocking him and running a hand up and down his back. Taehyung could feel tears of empathy prickling his own eyes as Jimin’s hands scrabbled to find purchase in the back of Taehyung’s sweater, gripping the material in a tight hold. Taehyung blinked hard to dispel the sudden dampness in his eyes, pulling Jimin onto his lap with a strength he didn’t know he had and holding him even tighter. The smaller boy crumpled against him, his face pressed wetly into Taehyung’s neck as tears dampened the collar of his shirt. He seemed so tiny, so fragile and Taehyung wanted to burn the world around them for having made Jimin feel like this.

            “Oh Jiminie, I’ve got you.” He whispered softly. “It’s okay, just let it out. I’m right here.” Jimin shuddered in his hold, choking on a sob. Taehyung just kept rocking and holding him, whispering soft nothings to him as tears slid down his own cheeks, burying his face in Jimin’s hair as the ebony haired boy whimpered. They spent long moments like this, what felt like a century before the shaking slowly ceased, the hiccupping sobs quieting until Jimin was silent once more. Taehyung held him still, an arm tight around his waist and a hand holding the back of Jimin’s head, running lightly through the strands there to provide some comfort.

            It was another few long moments before Jimin was sniffling softly and pulling back a bit to sit straight up. Taehyung let go of his head reluctantly, using his now free hand to gently thumb the tears away from under Jimin’s eyes. The older boy wasn’t looking at him, staring instead down into his own lap as his hands slowly released the back of Taehyung’s sweater, though one hand moved to lock onto the front instead, as if to keep Taehyung from running. How could he know that Taehyung had no intentions of ever moving from this spot unless Jimin asked him to? Gradually, Jimin took a deep breath and finally looked up, meeting Taehyung’s worried gaze with an unreadable expression.

            “Bad day, huh.” Taehyung said quietly, wiping another stray tear from Jimin’s rosy cheek. Leaning back slightly, Taehyung tugged a packet of tissues from the confines of his pocket, smiling lightly at Jimin before explaining. “Your nose runs when you’re outside for too long in the cold, so I came prepared.” The stupid joke got the barest tilt of Jimin’s lips as he handed the tissues over. Jimin took the package, tearing the cellophane before pulling out a tissue, waiting until Taehyung averted his eyes before blowing his nose a few times, mopping up his face quickly. He was still sniffling as he leaned over to toss the used tissues in the small trash can beside the nightstand, wiping his eyes with the damp sleeves of his black long sleeve. “I’m sorry Jimin-ah.” Taehyung whispered, barely a breath as he glanced up at the ceiling. “I’m sorry you’re hurting. And I’m sorry if my stupid song made you cry, it’s just. . . my Eomma used to sing to me and my siblings when we were sad, and it always made me feel better. I hoped it might help you too, I didn’t think—”

            A hand clapped over his mouth suddenly, not just Jimin’s finger this time, silencing him quickly. He glanced down in surprise, a stern expression on the smaller boy’s face; Jimin shook his head slowly before letting his hand slide down Taehyung’s jaw to rest against his neck, his thumb brushing lightly against the taller boy’s pulse point. His smile was watery and dim, but Taehyung appreciated the effort and what it meant, so he returned the smile with one of his own even though he suddenly felt like he couldn’t breathe. Jimin’s gaze softened, the hand resting in his lap moving to gently brush beneath Taehyung’s eyes, feather light and tender as the younger boy let his eyes slip shut.

            Taehyung bit his lip lightly at the emotions crashing through him, the overwhelming surge that was shaking him to his core; Jimin was such a sweet, kind soul. Taehyung couldn’t imagine what had happened to him, what kind of person would ever want to hurt him and the thought was painful enough that Taehyung had to duck his head. Seeing this, seeing the deep sadness within Jimin was just wrong, because the older boy (the beautiful, funny, sweet boy) should always be smiling. Taehyung wanted him to be the happiest person in the world, and he wished he had been there to stop whatever had happened to dull his light.

            Soft hands cupped his cheeks, tilting his head up until Jimin could press their foreheads together. Taehyung stared searchingly into warm, dark eyes, embarrassment crashing over him when he realized how hot his eyes were, his vision becoming blurrier. Jimin just closed his eyes, one of his hands moving to cup the back of Taehyung’s neck in comfort as the younger boy’s breath hitched. “I’m sorry, Jiminie, I’m sorry.” Taehyung grasped the other boy’s waist harder, leaning heavily against him as a few tears slid out, his shoulder shaking lightly. “You don’t deserve it, you deserve better than that. I wish. . .” Taehyung just shook his head lightly, unable to finish his sentence, focusing instead on the finger soothingly tracing ‘Tae’ repeatedly against the back of his neck. Jimin seemed to understand what he meant though, sitting up slightly to press a kiss to Taehyung’s forehead, his lips soft and plush against skin, lingering for a moment. Taehyung could feel the smile even if he couldn’t see it, and Jimin threw his arms tight around his neck, hugging the brunet hard.

            It was a while later that Taehyung found himself laying on Jimin’s bed beside the older boy, staring up at the ceiling quietly. It was a comfortable silence, one that spoke of a fond closeness that didn’t require words to be said, the gentle tangling of fingers between them on the mattress loud enough in place of speech. Taehyung’s mind was running a mile a minute, a tossup of wondering about Jimin’s past depicted in the pictures lining the hallways and thinking about the Jimin he had found locked away in a ball of grief earlier. He didn’t know Past Jimin, he would never know him, and the form he had found this morning was unsettling. There was a part of him that wanted to ask questions, but he had already told Jimin it was up to him when or if he wanted to disclose his past. And he meant it, he did! But there was still that part of him, gnawing curiously on his brain and pushing to hear the origin story of one Park Jimin.

            A soft ding knocked him out of his reverie, and he glanced over to the ebony haired boy. Jimin was smiling slightly, holding his cell phone in the hand not currently interlocked with Taehyung’s.

[I can practically see smoke coming out your ears, what are you thinking so hard about?]

            Taehyung’s laugh was soft as he turned his head from the bright screen to look at Jimin again. The older boy looked a bit better than earlier, his face still a little pinched and weary but there was a happiness radiating from him that Taehyung had missed when it was gone (however brief that had been). “You.” At the confused look, Taehyung just shook his head, turning to stare back up at the ceiling.

[What about me?]

            “It’s nothing really, Jimin-ah.”

[Bullshit. Talk to me Taetae.]

            The new nickname sent a wave of genuine affection rushing through him, and Taehyung couldn’t help but smile as he looked up from the phone screen. “I just. . . I don’t know how to help you, and that really blows. I don’t know what happened in the past—and let me assure you, you don’t have to tell me anything you don’t want to, Jimin-ah—but I am curious. I want to know everything about you, the small things and the big things. But only if you want to tell me them.” The smile on his face grew as he thought back to the pictures. “The photos along the stairwell are amazing. It’s weird when I think about you having a life before I met you because it feels like we’ve been best friends for years, and seeing those pictures was both amazing and shocking. The dancing pictures are beautiful, you look so in your element even back then. But. . . I didn’t know you had an annoyingly cute little brother who plays sports, or that you get your cheeks from your Eomma. And you look just like your old man. There’s a lot I don’t know about you, I’m realizing.” He paused for a second, realizing he was treading on delicate territory with his next statement, but he had never lied to Jimin and he didn’t intend to start now. “There was a picture. . . well, it looks like you used to sing, and part of me wonders how that would sound. How you would sound. It’s just one of those trivial thoughts I’ve had on occasion, but it’s not something that matters all that much to me. It was just a shocking reminder that we’re still new friends who don’t know all that much about each other under the surface, even if I do consider you my best friend.” Taehyung could feel Jimin’s stare burning a hole in the side of his head, but the brunet was too nervous to look back at him. His hand was gripping his phone in a white knuckled grip, his skin a little clammy and he had the sudden urge to tug his hand from Jimin’s even as his phone dinged.

[You’re my best friend too Tae, and I know I haven’t told you much about myself but. . . I’d like to.]

            “I don’t want you to feel like you have to.” Taehyung quickly replied. “I’d never ask for more than you want to give, Jiminie.” The brunet fought the urge to whine when Jimin suddenly released his hand, using both hands to text furiously.

[I know that Taetae. And that’s why I trust you so implicitly. I want to tell you all the things you’re asking about, I’m just. . . scared.]

            “Of me?”

[Not of you, never of you! It’s just been a long time since I told anyone about myself, so many stupid years of being alone. But I want to try to open up, to you at least.]

            Taehyung let his phone drop between them, turning on his side to face the smaller boy. Jimin moved to mirror him, folding his small hands to pillow them under his head, a small smile curling up the edges of his mouth. Taehyung noted that he looked exhausted, bags under his eyes and skin sallow. “I would like that. When you’re ready, Jimin-ah.” Without thinking about it first, his hand came up to brush his fingertips across Jimin’s cheekbone tenderly, the touch so soft it was barely there. “I’ll open up more too.” Jimin’s sudden grin was easy to interpret and he snatched up a pillow and smacked the ebony haired boy in the face with it. “Oh, shut up, I’m deep! You don’t know everything about me!” Jimin was giggling silently as he typed on his phone, Taehyung’s device dinging after a few moments.

[What don’t I know by now?]

            “Lots!” Taehyung flopped out on his back with a huff as Jimin took the pillow off his face and put it under his head. “I have layers, and interests that I don’t always talk about.” Jimin’s hand reached over and rested on the inside of Taehyung’s bicep, tracing the character for ‘like’. “Well, photography for one. I like to spend my time taking pictures using an old school film camera. My Aunt has a dark room she lets me use to develop them.” Jimin looked interested as he spoke a bit about that, going into more detail then he normally did to explain his hobby. Jimin listened intently, hand still resting where it lay comfortably connecting them. Taehyung fell silent after a while, ears burning when he realized he had been rambling. “Sorry.”

[What else?]

            “Um. . . I play the piano and sing on holidays for my family, but mostly I play the saxophone.” Jimin seemed to find that amusing, shaking his head lightly when Taehyung raised an eyebrow at him. “What?”

[I’m not surprised you play the piano; your long fingers are perfect for it; thought the sax seems more your style. And I bet holidays are a treat at your house, I’d love to hear you play and sing sometime!!!]

            “You’ve heard me sing now.” Taehyung was thankful it was dark enough in the room still that his blush wasn’t very apparent as he stared at the ceiling. “It’s not that different, nothing to write home about.” A sudden, sharp pinch to his bicep made him jump and cry out in pain, ripping his arm from the smaller boy’s offending phalanges to rub it. “Ouch, damn it! That hurt!” He didn’t care that he sounded like a big baby as he whined, pouting at Jimin. “What the hell? What did I do this time? You know, if you don’t stop pinching me people are going to see my bruises and assume I’m either in a bad relationship or lost a fight with a crab!” Jimin was laughing silently. “Does my pain amuse you? How cruel Jiminie!” Taehyung sat up quickly onto his knees, moving to face the older boy and using Jimin’s surprised pause to start tickling his sides relentlessly. “I’m gonna start tickling you every time you pinch me! Revenge!” He dug his fingers in more firmly as Jimin started to squirm, hands batting at Taehyung’s to get him to stop. His mouth was pressed in a hard line, jaw clenched as he fought the urge to laugh even as his swats got weaker as he started to shake. Taehyung’s grin was big and boxy as he continued the assault, smacking Jimin’s hands away as he snuck one hand up to swiftly dig his fingers into an unprotected armpit.

            That’s all it took for the dam to break; the sudden peal of laughter was high and soft; the sweetest note Taehyung had ever heard in his life. It was as if the gates of heaven had suddenly opened on that giggle, the older boy thrashing to try and get away even as Taehyung paused and stared at him in wonder before redoubling his efforts with vigor. The sound of Jimin’s laughter sounded slightly hysterical as Taehyung tickled him, his mouth falling open in a wide smile, eyes thinning into crescent moons and cheeks a vibrant pink even in the dark. Taehyung couldn’t help but laugh along with him, his husky, low laugh mixing with Jimin’s high tenor becoming his new favorite song.

            Jimin only laid there for a few more moments before he had had enough, finally getting a hold on Taehyung’s wrists and yanking the other boy down. Taehyung let out a cry of surprise as he hit Jimin’s chest, the older boy rolling them until he had Taehyung pinned down by his wrists, pushing himself up and swinging a leg over his hips to straddle him. He was still laughing, the sound like a sweet symphony to Taehyung’s ears as Jimin grinned down at him.

            Taehyung was frozen, hardly even daring to breathe.

            In this position, Taehyung could feel Jimin’s weight in his lap, could feel the thickness of his thighs surrounding his hips and the heat of his body hovering over Taehyung’s. His wrists were in a tight grip, Jimin bearing down hard on them to keep the brunet in place as his chest heaved, his eyes sparkling even behind his faux stern expression. He didn’t dare let himself think about what else he could feel on his lap, swallowing hard as he snapped his open mouth shut.

            Jimin’s giggles finally abated and Taehyung mourned the loss of the beautiful sound, staring up at the stunning boy. He felt like the wind had been punched from his lungs, the way Jimin’s hair was cascading over his forehead and into his bright eyes in soft waves, the way his cheeks were puffed out in a big smile, his white teeth bright and straight. Taehyung was almost positive the older boy was an angel, and he knew in that moment he might never deserve Jimin, but damn did he want to. The emotions were running too high then, so Taehyung did what Taehyung always did when he felt cornered and out of breath.

            He made it awkward.

            “Wow Jiminie, that was kinky. You sure have a thing for pinning me against stuff, huh? Things are getting pretty serious now, from wall to floor to bed. I’m swooning!” Taehyung grinned when Jimin suddenly flushed and released his arms, picking up the pillow discarded beside them only to shove it down on Taehyung’s face. His laughter was muffled as he clawed at it in an attempt to remove the pillow from suffocating him. Jimin smothered him for a few more moments before rolling off Taehyung and flopping out beside him with a huff and a halfhearted smack. Taehyung was near cackling as he tossed the pillow aside and rolled over onto his stomach, lifting up on his elbows and giving Jimin his best boxy smile. The older boy just rolled his eyes and ran a hand through his hair as if frustrated, but Taehyung could see the glimmer of amusement in his eyes and the way his lips twitched as if to hide a smile as he lifted his phone to text Taehyung.

[Thank you, Taetae. You’re always there for me, even when I’m being stupid. Your friendship means the world to me, I don’t know what I would do without you <3]

            Taehyung’s heart skipped a beat as he read the words, looking up to meet Jimin’s warm (and a little shy) gaze. He could only smile brightly. “You’ll never have to find out.”

            The rest of the afternoon passed in a blur of movies, anime, and video games. Taehyung had only stepped away once in order to cancel the party he had set up, letting their friends know that now wasn’t a good time; they had been very understanding, instead letting him know that they were there if he and Jimin needed anything. He walked back into the room with a fond smile, taking a moment to stop by the desk and act like he was casually going through his jacket pockets in search of something before draping the coat over the wrapped gift Jimin had yet to see. He hurried back to the bed, hopping back on it and picking his controller up again before nudging Jimin playfully.

            It was dark out as Taehyung quietly put his jacket on and stashed the present in his pocket, Jimin nearly asleep where he was curled so tightly on the bed. The brunet tippy toed over and pulled a blanket over the shivering boy, running his hand gently through ebony locks before whispering, “Happy birthday, Jiminie.” He made sure the door shut soundlessly behind him as he left.

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

            “Alright bitches, it’s time! Get your asses up, get changed, and let’s go.” Hoseok’s voice boomed through the practice room as he bounded through the door, startling Jimin and Jungkook from where they were assisting each other with stretching; Taehyung gave a cry of surprise from where he was lying flat on his back on the floor, holding a book over his head. The book went flying through the air from the toss, whacking Jungkook in the back of the head with a solid thunk before hitting the ground. The youngest boy whined in pain, releasing Jimin’s hands and rubbing his skull.

            “Ouch! My head!”

            Jimin was laughing silently, finger pointed at where Taehyung was sitting clutching his chest as he breathed heavily. “Damn it hyung! You almost gave me a heart attack! Then what would you do?”

            “Finally have some peace and quiet on the way to school.”

            “You wound me.”

            Hoseok dropped his serious expression, laughing heartily as he skipped over, grabbing Taehyung’s head in a headlock. “I’m just kidding, you big baby!” He noogied him sharply, only letting go when he begged for mercy for his precious locks. Jimin was grinning, stretching up to stand slowly, rolling his shoulders as he tilted his head in Hoseok’s direction curiously. The red head grinned before throwing an arm around the tiny dancer’s shoulders. “It’s Friday so we’re going to a party.”

            “What? Why?” Jungkook whined from where he was holding Taehyung’s book, pouting down at it. “I don’t wanna go.”

            “I don’t give a damn. I need to let off some steam and I’m choosing to do it this way. I need to drink, dance, and maybe make out with someone.” Hoseok responded almost harshly, and it was then that Taehyung noticed the strain on the older boy’s face. His eyes, normally cheery and bright, looked exhausted and swollen; they were a little red around the rims, his face ashen and pinched. His smile was still there but it was hollow, almost a mockery of his usual toothy grin.

            “Hyung, are you okay?” Taehyung asked softly, standing up to take a step closer. Jimin squeezed the arm around his shoulder in question, even Jungkook was looking up at the older boys, his expression worried and a bit stricken.

            “Never better. I just want to let go tonight and one of the frat houses on campus is having a Fall Bash, and I don’t want to be the loser who shows up alone. So, are you guys going to go home and change to come with me, or what?” Hoseok was trying for a playful tone, but he was missing the mark. He sounded snippy, frustrated, and the tiniest bit vulnerable. Taehyung glanced down to Jimin, whose eyes were wide and shining. Reading the hidden message, Taehyung inwardly sighed and outwardly smiled, clapping Hoseok on the shoulder warmly.

            “Jiminie and I are in.” The three looked to Jungkook, who looked between his three Hyungs and sighed.

            “Me too. Just no one tell my parents.”

            Hoseok’s smile was a bit brighter this time, his eyes warming enough to make him seem almost like himself. “Awesome. I’ll pick you all up at nine! You guys can crash at my place afterwards if you get too lit.” Snickering when Jungkook and Taehyung groaned at his lame use of slang, he released Jimin after giving him a tight squeeze, bounding back to the door with excitement. “See you guys then!” He chirped, blowing them a collective kiss before disappearing, letting the door slam shut behind him.

            “That does not bode well for Sope.” Taehyung muttered, Jungkook nodding sadly as he quickly started gathering his stuff. Taehyung felt insistent fingers on his sleeve, glancing down to Jimin. “Oh, sorry! Sope is the couple name we came up with for Yoongi-hyung and Hoseok-hyung.” The ebony haired boy blew out a frustrated sigh, raising an eyebrow and pushing his glasses further up the bridge of his nose. Taehyung grinned cheekily at him, booping his nose before explaining. “Yoongi-hyung used to do a lot of rapping when he was younger, going by Suga in the studio. And Hobi-hyung was in a street dance group for years before college, and his stage name was J-Hope. So, Suga plus J-Hope equals Sope.”

            “Even Jin-hyung and Joon-hyung call them that when they aren’t around.” Jungkook snickered, tossing his bag over his shoulder. “Fake couple names are like our groups inside joke.”

            “We mess with each other by making up stupid ship names.” Taehyung chuckled along with Jungkook, handing Jimin a water bottle as he pulled a sweatshirt from out of Jimin’s bag. “NamJin is Namjoon-hyung and Jin-hyung.” Jimin was smiling wide as he listened. “They call Kook-ah and I, TaeKook.”

            “Yoongi-hyung and I are Sugakookie.” They all had a good laugh at that one, Jimin falling weakly into Taehyung’s side as he shook with silent laughter; Jungkook was suddenly grinning mischievously.

            “I think you two are the only one’s without a ship name now! We have to fix that.” Jungkook smirked a little when Taehyung flushed and cut him a glare as he held the sweatshirt out to Jimin, the smaller boy poking his head through the hole Taehyung held open. “I’d say TaeMin, but then Taemin-hyung will get confused if he ever hears me shout it.”

            “Too obvious anyways, Kook. Gotta be more creative than that.” Taehyung teased the younger boy as Jimin struggled to push his arms through his sleeves, the sweatshirt obviously too big for him. The brunet’s heart swooped into his stomach when he realized the hoodie was his, the one he had lent Jimin during their last sleepover. It was old and soft with holes in the cuffs that Taehyung had cut for his thumb’s years ago, the neck stretched out a bit and the hood frayed. He swallowed hard as he met Jimin’s bright smile, quelling the urge to hug the ridiculously adorable boy tight and not let go.

            “What about JiHyung?”

            “That’s stupid.”

            “You’re stupid!” Jungkook huffed out, sticking his tongue out at the older boy. Taehyung gasped and swatted at the other boy, only stopping when Jimin giggled silently and restrained him with his arms wrapped around the younger boy’s waist, pinning his arms to his sides.

            “I’m your hyung, you’re supposed to treat me with respect, you brat! Lemme go Jimin-ah, I have to teach Kookie a lesson!” He felt Jimin shake his head against his shoulder, fighting a smile at the feel of Jimin’s body shaking with laughter. “Jimin-ah! If you don’t let me go right now, I’ll tickle you!” That threat was all it took, Jimin reared back as if burned, hands up in the air as he took a few rapid steps back. Jungkook made a sound of fear as he dodged Taehyung’s lunge, hurrying to the opposite side of the room as the older boy chased him.

            “Jimin-hyung, help me! Taehyung-ssi’s gone crazy!” Taehyung could see Jimin pulling his gym bag over his shoulder, sending Jungkook a teasing finger heart before shaking his head on a smile. He frowned when the ebony haired boy made his way to the door, sliding it open even as Jungkook cried out for his help. Taehyung had the younger boy in a headlock, holding him tight even as he struggled.

            He called out breathlessly as he fought to keep the upper hand. “Jimin-ah?” The older boy just sent Taehyung a sweet smile before leaving, the door shutting loudly. Immediately disappointed, Taehyung unceremoniously dropped Jungkook to the floor, ignoring his cry of protest and his glare.

            “Ouch! Damn it hyung, what the hell?”

            “This isn’t fun anymore.” He pouted, snagging his book and shoving it in his backpack before jogging to the door. “Bye Kook-ah, I’ll see you later!”

            “Running after Jimin-hyung? Whipped!”

            “Shut up!” Taehyung ignored the laughter behind him as he jogged down the hall, taking the stairs two at a time before bursting through the lobby doors out into the parking lot. He glanced both ways quickly, gaze searching before landing on a familiar black beanie walking down the street. Grinning, he took off at a sprint, covering ground fast as he got closer. Jimin paused at the sound of footsteps hitting concrete, eyes wide as he turned just in time to brace himself, lock his knees, and hold his arms up. Taehyung sprung off the ground into his waiting arms, the smaller boy grunting lightly at the impact and stumbling a bit before finding his balance as Taehyung’s legs went around his slim waist, the younger boys’ arms tight around his neck. They spun in a circle twice before Taehyung dropped his legs back to the ground as he laughed, the older boy finally putting him down. Jimin looked flustered and amused, trying to give Taehyung a stern look even as he was clearly fighting a grin.

            “You just left me!” Taehyung lamented in explanation, slinging his arm around Jimin’s neck to pull him close as they started walking down the street together. “Left me all alone with Jungkookie, who had just insulted me! How could you do that to me Jiminie? After everything we’ve been through? Have you no loyalty to your queen?” Jimin was laughing again, soft gasps that made Taehyung grin. “I feel so betrayed, they may as well take my crown because I have not a single loyal knight to defend my honor! A bereft queen!”

            Jimin chose that moment to stop, Taehyung’s arm slipping off his shoulders as he turned to face the older boy curiously. Jimin gave him the biggest eye roll he had ever seen before schooling his expression into faux sympathy. Taehyung’s jaw dropped when Jimin dropped into a graceful, princely bow, arm sweeping across his chest dramatically as a foot swept out behind him to make the bow grander. His hand came out to take Taehyung’s in a firm grasp, pulling it up to his mouth as he brushed his plush lips delicately across the knuckles, gaze travelling up to meet Taehyung’s gaze. They sparkled with mirth as he straightened, moving to Taehyung’s side and tucking the hand in his elbow as he got them walking again. Taehyung could feel his cheeks burning as Jimin escorted him, hand tingling from the kiss. He was silent as he tried to will away the flush and shake away his nerves before he finally glanced down at Jimin.

            The ebony haired boy was smirking up at him, raising an eyebrow playfully. Taehyung lightheartedly swatted him, shaking his head (neither of them mentioned the fact that Taehyung didn’t move his hand from where Jimin was clasping it in the crook of his elbow). “Okay, okay. You’re forgiven, I have one loyal knight.” Jimin’s smirk morphed into a smile as he tilted his head to rest it against Taehyung’s shoulder lightly as they walked. “You’re lucky you’re cute.” Taehyung’s eyes widened for a second; that was not supposed to be said out loud. He chanced a look down, meeting Jimin’s warm eye smile. The older boy traced the character for ‘same’ into his shoulder lightly, just the barest pressure. Taehyung felt warm despite the cold as they entered the subway station.

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

            Taehyung sipped his soda from where he leaned on the wall, watching his friends dance with a smile. The party was big, bigger then Hoseok had thought it would be, and the redhead had been overjoyed, leading them in with an air of confident excitement, the three dancers taking over the dance floor easily. Jungkook had come out of his shell after a drink, laughing with Jimin as they danced playfully, making silly faces at each other even as they moved smoothly. Hoseok was in his own element, dropping to the floor smoothly and arching his back before moving up with the twist of his hips. His eyes were smoldering as he moved, crooking his finger playfully at the boy in front of him.

            Taehyung frowned lightly as the boy took the invitation, his smile wide as Hoseok turned his back to him, rolling his hips seductively as the frat boy pressed up against his back, his hands landing on the redheads’ hips. Hoseok threw his head back, smirking lightly as the frat boys’ lips descended on his neck, biting his lip at the contact. He snagged one of the frat boy’s hands, leading it to where the fishnets he wore peeked out from a tear in his jeans, his other hand coming up to pull the boys mouth closer to his neck.

            Hoseok had been acting odd all night. The usually rambunctious boy had been quiet on the car ride over, barely sparing the other boys a smile as they talked. He’d brushed off their worried comments, saying he was fine and it was nothing, he just wanted a good time. And Taehyung would have left it alone if not for the haunted look in his eyes. Offering to be DD, Taehyung had watched in something akin to impressed horror as Hoseok threw back shot after shot, steadily becoming drunker the longer they were there. He had barely taken a moment to breath between the drinks and the dancing, and Taehyung was officially worried.

            Pushing off the wall, Taehyung slipped through the writhing bodies, tapping Jungkook on the shoulder as he glanced once more at Hoseok. “Hey Kook-ah, I’m thinking we need to go intervene.” Jungkook glanced to where Hoseok was dancing, eyes darkening at the sight of Hoseok turning in the frat boy’s arms, leading a hand to his ass as he smirked flirtatiously.

            “You might be right. I got this, stay with Jimin-hyung. I’ll be right back.”

            “You don’t want help?” Taehyung asked, surprised.

            “Maybe Jimin-hyung’s help since he actually works out. But you’d just get in the way, Hyung. Weakling.” Jungkook grinned at Taehyung’s aghast expression as he slipped away, laughing as he headed towards Hoseok.

            “What a bitch.” Taehyung stared after him, amazed. “Fucking muscle pig.”

            A hand pressed lightly to his left pec, tracing the characters for ‘hello Tae’ lightly. Eyes falling closed, Taehyung swallowed hard to steel himself before looking down at the sight he had been trying to ignore all night for his own health. Jimin was grinning at him obliviously, his dark hair styled in soft waves, his bangs parted to show off his forehead. His glasses were gone, his eyes made up with dark liner and smoky shadow, his jaw sharper and cheekbones highlighted to perfection (Taehyung hadn’t ever suspected the other boy used make up, and it honestly just wasn’t fair how much it suited him). His lips were painted a soft pink, looking perfect and soft and kissable, silver jewelry hanging in his ears and adorning his fingers, neck, and wrists. His black V-neck was tight and his pants looked like they were made from the tightest leather possible, sculpting his hips and ass in a way that had Taehyung feeling hot all over. Taehyung had nearly keeled over into a hopelessly aroused puddle when they had picked Jimin up that night, one look enough to know he had to avoid looking at the older boy for the rest of the night at all costs.

            The boy was giving him the sweetest smile even as he moved his hips sensually to the music, drawing Taehyung’s gaze down. His breath caught as Jimin’s hand on his pec slowly travelled up to his neck, fingers sliding into the hair at the base of his neck. Jimin’s other hand gently tugged Taehyung’s hand out of his own pocket and led it to rest on a leather clad hip. Taehyung smiled weakly down at the ebony haired boy. “Hey Jimin-ah.” The character for ‘dance’ was pressed into the inside of his elbow as Jimin released his wrist after making sure it would stay on his hip. Taehyung’s skin tingled where Jimin’s hands brushed along it, the warmth of his skin contrasting with the cool bite of the rings wrapped around his fingers, leaving goosebumps in the wake of the touch. Taehyung suppressed a shudder when Jimin’s hands traveled up his chest to link behind Taehyung’s neck.

            Biting his lip and sending a prayer up to whatever deity was listening, Taehyung brought his other hand up to grasp onto Jimin’s other hip, swaying in time with the older boy. Jimin’s smile was effervescent at the response, speeding up as Taehyung copied his movements, his hips twirling gracefully as they danced together. Jimin’s gaze caught his, and the older boy’s hands dragged down teasingly along his neck, catching on the neckline of Taehyung’s shirt. Unconsciously, Taehyung’s hands tightened on Jimin’s hips, pulling him slightly closer with a smile of his own as his fingers lightly brushed the sliver of bare skin showing. Jimin’s breath stuttered in his chest, Taehyung could feel it catch as the ebony haired boy leaned into him slightly, their chests brushing lightly when Jimin moved his hips a certain way.

            Suddenly, it was as if the rest of the world had melted away. The smell of Jimin’s citrusy cologne and the scent of sweat was going to Taehyung’s head faster than the alcohol would have, swimming in the feel of Jimin’s skin under his fingertips. Jimin’s smile was softer now, almost thoughtful, before his gaze seemed to darken. Taehyung wasn’t prepared for Jimin to spin around, his small hands coming over his head to grasp onto Taehyung and pulling him close. Taehyung nearly tripped into him, an arm circling Jimin’s waist on instinct as Jimin’s hand slide into the hair at the back of Taehyung’s head and tugged him closer. Taehyung bit back a groan as his front pressed up against Jimin’s slender back, his groin coming into contact with Jimin’s ass as the older boy pushed back against him.

            The feel of Jimin against his body obliterated Taehyung’s senses, eyes falling closed as Jimin leaned into him, their hips moving in a sultry dance as the bass pounded around them. Taehyung’s free hand gently brushed over Jimin’s hip, sliding teasingly along his abs before gliding across firm pecs to lightly grasp Jimin along base of his neck. Jimin’s Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed hard, arching his neck back on instinct, baring the column of his throat in a way that had heat pooling low as Taehyung admired the smooth skin. Jimin’s head turned slightly, heavy lidded eyes meeting Taehyung’s dark gaze as he ground back against the taller boy roughly. He was leaning forward, lips running along the shell of Jimin’s ear when Taehyung was suddenly yanked backwards.

            He went with a cry, barely catching Jimin as they nearly hit the floor. Jimin’s dark eyes were blown wide as he scrambled to stand straight again, eyes locked at the figure over Taehyung’s shoulder. Jungkook was there, pulling on Taehyung again, his eyes frightened. “Sorry but—Hyung, help! Yoongi-hyung just got here and—hyung, please!”

            Heart pounding for new reasons now, Jimin and Taehyung made eye contact before pushing through the crowd after Jungkook’s retreating form, the yelling raising in volume as they got closer to the kitchen.

            “I said get your fucking hands off of him!” Yoongi’s voice was raised to a volume Taehyung had never heard it, the words harsh and cold. The blonde was standing at the door to the kitchen, hands in tight fists at his sides as he glared at where the frat boy had Hoseok on top of the counter. Hoseok’s eyes were blown wide in shock, his face pale as he stared at Yoongi speechlessly. The frat boy’s lip was curled in disgust, eyes roving over Yoongi before he met his gaze.

            “Who the hell are you?” His tone was irritated, eyes narrowed at the irate blonde.

            “Did I fucking stutter?” Yoongi took two steps farther into the kitchen, eyes trained on where the frat boy’s hands were rested high on Hoseok’s thighs. The redhead seemed to be holding his breath. “Let him go and move away. Now.”

            “Screw you! Who the hell do you think you are, coming in here and demanding shit?” The frat boy’s face was red with anger now. “Get your own piece of ass!”

            Yoongi’s hands clenched tighter as he laughed humorlessly, voice cutting and cold. “’Piece of ass’, huh? You sure know how to pick ‘em, Hobi. Christ.”

            Hoseok straightened up at that, cheeks flushing. “Yeah, I really do, don’t I?” He swallowed hard, gently pushing the frat boy back so he could slide off the countertop before crossing his arms tightly. “What the hell are you doing here Yoongi?”

            “I came here looking for you.”

            “Why? What do you want?”

            Yoongi blew out a frustrated sigh, gesturing around them. “To stop you from doing something stupid. Obviously, I didn’t make it in time. What are you even doing Hobi? Why are you doing this?”

            “Stop! Stop ‘Hobi’-ing me!” Hoseok’s voice cut across the kitchen sharply, voice raising. “Just leave, Yoongi!”

            “Why? So you can go back to shoving your tongue down this asshole’s throat, rut up against him in front of all these people? I thought you were better than that.” Yoongi replied snidely, shaking his head and turning to push through the gathering crowd. Taehyung gasped at his words, feeling Jimin grip his arm tight. Yoongi’s face was pale and stricken as he took a step forward, only to be jerked back by a seething Hoseok.

            “Min Yoongi, did you just slut shame me? Seriously? Fuck you!” Hoseok’s hands came out and shoved the smaller blonde. Yoongi stumbled before righting himself, matching the redhead glare for glare. “Who the hell do you think you are? Who are you to judge me?! I’ll do whatever and whomever I want, got that? You get no fucking say in what I do!”

            “Like I give a shit what you do! Fuck off Hoseok, I’m leaving. This was clearly a waste of my time.” Yoongi moved to leave and Hoseok stopped him again, grabbing his bicep this time. “Don’t touch me!” Yoongi’s voice was acidic, but his eyes seemed misty even as he yanked his arm out of Hoseok’s grasp.

            Hoseok looked ready to tear his hair out of his head, his eyes blazing with anger. “It’s always about you, Yoongi! You’re so fucking selfish!”

            “Look who’s talking!” Yoongi bit back. “You’re so childish, I swear to god. How old are you? Five? It’s like you stopped maturing years ago.”

            “Oh, now I’m immature? You’re insufferable and pompous, and so fucking frustrating! Would it kill you to pull your head out of your ass?”

            “Yeah, it would actually. Because when I do, I have to deal with all of this.” He motioned to Hoseok and himself viciously. “And it’s not worth the migraine! I’m so tired of the push and pull, I’m done. I’m so fucking done.”

            Hoseok drew back as if he had been slapped, eyes wide and glassy suddenly. He was no longer shouting as he replied, voice strange and strained. “Fine. That’s fine. Forget it then! Forget all of it!”

            “Already forgotten.” Yoongi replied quietly, his voice cold, turning on his heel. Hoseok didn’t stop him this time as he headed for the door. “Have fun with your fuck boys. See you around Jung.” And he was gone.

            Taehyung watched him go with wide eyes, Jungkook chasing after Yoongi as his gaze swung back to Hoseok. The red head was leaning heavily on the counter, eyes staring glassily at the ground. He was still and silent as everyone stared, seemingly in a trance. Taehyung took a slow step forward. “Hyung. . .?”

            Hoseok suddenly gave a sharp, feral cry, swiftly picking up a beer bottle and turning to throw it hard against the wall. It burst apart with a loud clamor, shards of glass hitting the ground, glinting harshly in the overhead light as people fled the room in quick bursts. Hoseok was breathing hard as he knelt, hands winding harshly into red locks and yanking on them, face screwing up in agony. Taehyung crossed the kitchen in seconds, falling onto his knees beside the boy without a second thought and pulling him into his arms. Drunken sobs broke harshly against his shoulder as Hoseok cried, hands grasping tight onto Taehyung’s shoulders. Jimin was there then, hugging the redhead from behind, his arms tight around his neck and his cheek pressed to Hoseok’s head as tears of sympathy slipped down his face too. He met Taehyung’s gaze across Hoseok’s head, eyes sad as Hoseok sobbed.

            Jungkook returned soon, looking out of breath and like he’d been running his hands through his hair raggedly. He took one look at them and motioned for Taehyung and Jimin to move, lifting the redhead in his arms easily before turning to the door. Hoseok just cried into his shoulder, arms going around his neck as Jungkook took him out to the car. Taehyung and Jimin followed quickly, the brunet hopping in the driver’s seat of Hoseok’s Soul with Jimin in the passenger seat. Jungkook positioned the redhead in his lap the whole way home, stoically holding the older boy tight. The only thing damper then the mood in the car was the collar of Jungkook’s jacket, soaked through with tears.

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

            “Apparently Hobi-hyung and Yoongi-hyung haven’t spoken since the party, do you know how weird that is? Those two are always together, or at least texting. But radio silence? It just feels wrong Jiminie. And I don’t know what to do, Hoseok-hyung won’t talk about it. Jungkook-ah says he’s acting normal again, just as happy as before, and Seokjin-hyung says Yoongi-hyung seems happy too. But how can that be? It doesn’t make any sense, they love each other, how can they be fine after that fight?”

Park Jiminie

[I don’t know Tae. . . That was a pretty bad fight. Maybe it was a long time coming.]

            “No, you don’t get it! They’ve been in love for years, Sope has always been end game! Why are they pretending so hard? It’s obvious they’re miserable.”

[Are you sure they’re miserable. . .? Hobi-hyung seemed great at practice, like a weight was off his shoulders for the first time in a while. Maybe they needed this.]

            Taehyung looked up from his phone angrily, glaring at where Jimin sat beside him on the roof, munching quietly on celery. “Stop saying that! There’s no way being away from the one you love can make you happy!” Taehyung snapped, throwing his bag of chips onto his tray and sitting back with a huff, ignoring Jimin’s worried look.

[What if love isn’t enough? Love isn’t blind, sometimes no matter how much two people want it, it will never work. It’s sad, but it happens.]

            Nearly growling, Taehyung shot to his feet, shoving his phone in his pocket and pacing. His chest felt tight suddenly, his heart aching as a rush of frustration flooded through him. He wanted to cry for some reason, scream until all the unwelcome emotions left his system; he was being bitchy and he knew it, he had been off kilter ever since the party, a hollowness creating a void in his chest. Jimin set his food to the side, wrapping his arms around his legs and clutching them to his chest, chin resting on his knees as his eyes followed Taehyung’s movements. Taehyung’s hands were wringing together in front of his chest, pulling lightly on his fingers as he wore a path in the roof. Jimin watched him for a while, giving him time to cool down before texting him again.

[Talk to me, Taetae.]

            Sighing, Taehyung roughly ran a hand through his hair before slowly moving to sit beside Jimin, falling heavily against him. He turned to rest his face against the other boy’s neck, his cologne familiar and comforting, slowly calming his system. Jimin leaned his cheek on the top of Taehyung’s head, hands reaching over to pull one of Taehyung’s into his lap, clasping the large hand in his smaller ones. Taehyung finally let out a long breath. “I’m sorry Jiminie, I didn’t mean to snap at you. Are you mad at me?” Jimin shook his head, squeezing Taehyung’s hand softly. “Thanks. . . I just.” He held his breath for a moment before nodding slightly to himself. “Okay. Remember how I said I was going to be more open? Tell you more things, let you in?” Jimin nodded. “Well. . . When I was a kid. . . My siblings and I had to live with our Grandparents for a year and a half, out in Daegu. My parents. . . they loved each other, but they fought a lot. For a while it seemed like they were going to get a divorce, Appa moved out and Eomma. . . well, she needed a break. So Eonjin, Jeonggyu, and I went to live on our Grandparents strawberry farm. I had to leave my school and friends, missed a lot of my music lessons, and spent holidays without our parents.”

            Jimin’s hands squeezed his a little harder, a silent understanding. “I remember being so angry. . . because they loved each other, they just couldn’t make it work for some reason. It was always some stupid, outside force keeping them apart until one day it was their own faults. I was so, so angry, all the time. Because if they loved each other, if they loved us, if they loved me, then how was being apart better? Why was it so easy to leave each other and leave my siblings and I alone? Why couldn’t they make it work? Why wasn’t love enough?” Taehyung sighed, lifting his head to stare up at the clouds. “Eventually, they worked it out but sometimes I think the damage was already done. Our family is happy, we’re really close, but things have never been the same. And there’s a part of me that’s selfish, that thinks if they had just been stronger, smarter, if they loved more openly. . . then those things wouldn’t have ever happened. That maybe I wouldn’t have such a fear of getting close to someone. Every time I ever had a crush I always wondered when that would stop being enough? When would I stop being enough?”

            “Hobi-hyung and Yoongi-hyung. . . they’ve loved one another for so long. And the idea that after all that time, after all those moments, after all that love so blatantly out there for everyone to see, that they could just ignore it and pretend it never existed. . . Well, it puts me back on that strawberry farm wondering what’s the point if love can never last. I want it to last Jiminie, I want that for my parents, for my friends, for. . . me. But it never lasts. It just. . . makes me sad. Stupid, huh?” Taehyung sighed softly, his voice dwindling off into silence. Jimin let go of his hand suddenly, texting furiously for a few moments.

[Kim Taehyung. . . sometimes you’re both the wisest and dumbest person I know.]

[I’m sorry about what happened with your parents, I can’t imagine how awful that must have been, or how hard that must have been for you. It’s always shocking how much our childhood affects us in the future, how our surroundings and experiences really do shape us.]

[I get it now, why our Hyungs having a fight is affecting you so much. But Taetae. . . love can last. You’ve seen it happen, what about your Grandparents?]

            Taehyung conceded the point with a slow nod, swallowing hard.

[Sometimes. . . people have to fall apart to fall back together. Like your parents. Things might not be the same as they were, but sometimes the same isn’t a good thing. It’s like breaking a bone. It fractures into two separate pieces, but over time it heals. It mends and becomes whole again, and it’s strong. Its bond is one forged by the body’s choice. It’s the same with relationships; when people fall apart and they have to work to make it work again, isn’t the relationship stronger for it? Because it took effort. Sometimes it takes a long time to get there, and maybe some people never do. But love finds a way if the two people want it bad enough and are willing to fight tooth and nail for it. That’s what I believe at least.]

[And Taehyungie. . . you are more than enough, and anyone who tells you that you aren’t enough is not the one for you. You’re so kind, funny, smart, sensitive. . . you’re literally the perfect guy; anyone who’s lucky enough to have you is never going to let you go. You’ll have a love that lasts, I promise you. Because if this world could create you in all your splendor, I just know there’s someone out there who will cherish you the way you deserve. Your love story is around the corner. So, don’t lose hope just because the people around you are mid project with their love story when yours hasn’t even begun.]

            Taehyung swallowed the lump in his throat as he read the last words, his phone falling into his lap as he turned to throw his arms around Jimin, pulling the older boy into a hard hug. He was solid and grounding in Taehyung’s arms as he returned the embrace, nuzzling closer to press his cold nose tip into Taehyung’s warm neck. “I love you, Jimin-ah.” He felt the older boy laugh softly, heard the barest sound of it pressed into his neck. He had no idea what he’d do without the other boy, and just the thought was enough to scare him. He always knew just what to say to make Taehyung feel better and was nearly always right, but in this case, Taehyung was positive he was wrong on one point:

            Taehyung’s love story had already begun, when a sweet mute boy from Busan walked through that classroom door and into Taehyung’s heart.

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

            “This is going to be so awkward.” Jungkook murmured a couple weeks later as he and Taehyung knocked on Seokjin’s apartment door for Saturday movie night. Taehyung sighed and nodded in agreement, shifting deeper into his winter jacket, the late November cold settling in as it got darker. “Namjoonie-hyung said that Yoongi-hyung is here, but Hoseok-hyung still isn’t.”

            “Do you think he’ll show up this week? I mean, it’s been almost a month. Enough is enough, they broke up with each other, not with the rest of us.”

            “Can you even break up if you were never dating?” Jungkook wondered out loud, cutting himself off as the door opened. Seokjin smiled and motioned them in, wiping his hands off on a towel as they toed off their shoes and slipped on the house slippers Seokjin provided.

            “Where’s the other one?” Seokjin teased, holding his hand to mid chest. “You know, the short, adorable one that hangs out with you ruffians?”

            “You know hyung, I’m starting to think you like Jiminie better than us.” Taehyung pouted at the older boy as he followed him back to the kitchen. “I know he’s cute, but I’m pretty cute too.”

            “What about me?” Jungkook called from the living room. Taehyung peeked in and made a so-so hand gesture before grinning at Jungkook’s squawk of displeasure. “Hyung!”

            “Hi Joon-hyung!” Taehyung called, pointedly ignoring Jungkook’s whining. Namjoon chuckled from where he was playing Call of Duty with Yoongi, waving back distractedly. Taehyung frowned slightly when Yoongi glanced over, raising an eyebrow in expectation. “Yoongi-ssi.” Taehyung muttered frostily before moving back to the kitchen, pouting heavily as he sat and watched Seokjin cook. The older boy gave him an unimpressed look before shaking his head and stirring the soup he was preparing.

            “Really, Taehyung-ah?”

            “Really, Jin-hyung?” Taehyung echoed petulantly, sticking his tongue out childishly as he poked at the grapes in a bowl on the counter, popping one in his mouth after a moment. Seokjin just rolled his eyes before moving to check the rice. “Don’t judge me.”

            “Always judging you.”

            “Well, do it silently then.” The brunet boy hadn’t seen much of Hoseok or Yoongi since the night of the party. He’d opted to ride the subway to school, only seeing Hoseok briefly when he went to see Jimin at dance once. Otherwise it had been radio silence, as if the two were suddenly nonexistent in their group, despite the others reaching out. Taehyung understood they needed space from each other, but he hated that they were ignoring everyone else too. Taehyung was about to eat the next grape when a hand smacked the back of his head, the grape bouncing off his cheek and rolling across the counter. “Ouch!” Whipping around with a glare, Taehyung’s eyes widened when he came face to face with Yoongi. The blonde gave him a long look, face impassive though his eyes were swirling with emotions.

            “Where’s my hello? Or my hug?” Taehyung turned resolutely away from the older boy, picking the grape back up and popping it in his mouth as he studiously ignored him. Yoongi stared at him for a long few moments before sitting in the seat beside the brunet, clasping his hands together. “So, it’s the silent treatment, is it?” Taehyung kept his eyes on the grapes as he ate them slowly. It was five grapes before Yoongi spoke again. “Taehyung, come on. Do we really have to do this? You’re really going to make me do this?” When Taehyung didn’t respond again, Yoongi sighed long and hard before he stood up and moved behind Taehyung, throwing his arms around the taller boy and squeezing him in a tight hug, his chin hooked over the younger’s shoulder. “I’m sorry, okay? I’ve been an ass. I should have reached out sooner, I was just upset and embarrassed. I’ve been a world class dick. Forgive me?” Taehyung fought the smile trying to appear on his lips, covering his mouth and shaking his head stiffly. Yoongi sighed again, resting his head against Taehyung’s in defeat. “Fine, I’ll say it. I love you, okay? I love you Taehyung-ah. Stop being mad at me. Call me hyung.”

            “I love you too, Yoongi-hyung.” Taehyung finally replied, grinning at the other boy. “That’s all you had to say. I accept your apology!”

            “Cute.” Seokjin finally said, lowering his phone with a smirk. “That’s going in the Christmas montage!” Yoongi just stared at him with dead eyes, releasing Taehyung despite the younger boy’s pout. “Yoongi-yah loving on our Taehyung-ah, all caught on camera. How sweet!”

            “Delete it.”

            “Over my incredibly handsome dead body.” There was a knock at the door and Yoongi stiffened, turning on his heel to hurry back into the living room. Seokjin frowned at him before taking a deep breath, schooling his expression into one of excited welcome as he headed towards the door, opening it to reveal Hoseok and Jimin. “Welcome friends!”

            “Jiminie!” Taehyung called excitedly, waving to the figure wrapped in a white marshmallow coat and giant wool scarf, a beanie pulled tight over his forehead. The figure waved back, stepping inside and shedding his layers quickly before he was bounding into the apartment and straight into Taehyung’s waiting arms. Jimin’s arms tightened around his neck and Taehyung sighed happily as he wrapped his arms around the smaller boy’s waist. He smelled like citrus and winter; a calm scent Taehyung found pleasing. Taehyung’s smile turned to a look of shock when Jimin pressed his icy nose to Taehyung’s neck, his fingertips sneaking to press just under the collar off his shirt along the tops of his shoulder blades. Taehyung cursed quietly, flinching even as Jimin giggled softly against his skin, the sounds soft and a little squeaky. “Jesus Jimin-ah, damn it! Were you not wearing gloves? You little shit!” He quickly extracted the hands from his collar, ignoring the smaller boy’s pitiful pout before lifting the hem of his thick green sweater, slipping the small hands to rest above his t-shirt against his chest. Smiling slightly, he wrapped his arms tight around Jimin, pulling him closer and tucking him between his knees and under his chin. “There, this should warm you up.” Jimin sighed at the warmth, pressing closer and letting his eyes fall shut.

            Taehyung’s heart was going to burst if he kept this up.

            “That’s going in the montage too.” Seokjin’s teasing voice cut into the moment, bringing Taehyung back to reality as the older boy lowered his phone. Namjoon and Jungkook had wandered in and were grinning at them, Hoseok’s smile a little smug as he pressed a quick kiss to Taehyung’s hair as he gave Jungkook a hug.

            “Sorry we were late! Traffic was terrible! Jinnie-hyung, how can I help?” Hoseok asked, moving to wash his hands. Seokjin waved him off.

            “I’ve got this, it’s just a simple stew and some small side dishes.”

            “Perfect for a winter night.”

            “Actually, it’s not winter yet. Winter starts around the twenty first of December, right before Christmas. It’s a common misconception since it gets cold so soon in the year.” Namjoon interjected absentmindedly as he searched the cabinets for glasses for the wine Seokjin had opened and let breathe. “Fall gets a lot of the rap for winter, making winter seem like the longest season of the year.”

            “Mmm, your realm of useless knowledge turns me on.” Seokjin wrapped himself around Namjoon like an octopus, pressing open mouthed kisses to Namjoon’s neck and jaw (he ignored the sound of Jungkook pretending to vomit in the background). Namjoon’s face went red immediately as he struggled to get away from his Velcro like boyfriend. “Keep talking babe.”

            “Jin! Stop, you’re embarrassing me!” Namjoon whined, flustered as Seokjin nipped at his earlobe. The brunet relented after a few more kisses to the younger boy’s neck, grabbing his chin to press a searing kiss to his lips before releasing Namjoon. He pointed over his shoulder to a cabinet.

            “I moved the wine glasses last night, they’re over there now.” Seokjin winked at Namjoon, grinning when the younger boy averted his eyes and muttered under his breath as he went to get the glasses. “Dinner’s almost ready, somebody tell Yoongi to wake the fuck up!”

            “I’m not sleeping, calm the hell down.”

            Taehyung glanced to Hoseok right as the red head flinched at the sound of Yoongi’s deep, grumpy voice. The blonde shuffled in, his black cardigan sleeves pulled over his hands as he moved into the kitchen, moving to pull spoons and chopsticks from their drawer. He snagged a small stack of napkins as he passed Hoseok, moving to set the table. Jimin immediately pulled away from Taehyung’s embrace to help him, nudging Yoongi slightly in hello as they worked. Hoseok passed Taehyung then, carrying the container of rice and situating it on the table. The red head seemed to steel himself, taking a deep breath before smiling his blindingly bright smile. “Hi hyung!”

            Yoongi didn’t seem to miss a beat, much to everyone’s shock as a big smile broke out across his face. “Hobi, you’re looking well, that sweater is a nice color on you. It’s good to see you.” Yoongi bowed his head to Hoseok before straightening, the smile staying on his face as he continued to set the table. Jimin had frozen, mouth shut tight as he watched the exchange with wide eyes. Hoseok seemed stunned too before shaking it off with another smile.

            “It’s good to see you too! What have you been up to?”

            “Music, sleeping. Not much really, just getting through my classes. How about you, dance going well?”

            “Very. High marks on my performance last week, thank you.”

            Taehyung shivered lightly at the overly polite tone to the conversation, helping to finish bringing food to the table. Dinner followed similarly, Yoongi and Hoseok making polite conversation across the table through the meal, the others feeling a tad bit awkward (Taehyung was just purely creeped out at this point). Seokjin sighed after a while, turning to Jimin who was on his left, across from a pouting Taehyung. “Hey, Jimin-ah.” The boy turned to Seokjin, tilting his head curiously as he chewed. Seokjin leaned closer. “What do you call a fake noodle?” Jimin shrugged lightly. “An impasta!” Seokjin’s laughter at his own joke sounded like a windshield wiper catching, Jimin dissolving into silent giggles, dropping his chopsticks to cover his mouth as the rest of them groaned.

            “That’s so bad, hyung.” Jungkook whined, slumping in his seat. Seokjin grinned and turned to him.

            “Kookie, why don’t cannibals eat clowns?”

            “I don’t care.”

            “Because they taste funny!” Seokjin snickered again, laughing harder as Jimin’s head hit the table as he laughed breathlessly. “See? Jimin-ah thinks I’m funny!”

            “He thinks everything is funny.” Taehyung shook his head, watching Jimin fondly. “That’s hardly a standard to hold yourself to.” He was lying through his teeth. As far as he knew, the sun rose and set on Jimin’s laugh. Jimin finally collected himself, shooting Taehyung a mock glare, grinning when the brunet blew him a kiss.

            Turning to his most expressive crowd, Seokjin grinned. “Hey Jimin-ah, what would you call a popular lobster?” Jimin’s lips were already twitching and he covered his mouth as he shrugged. “A lobSTAR.” That sent Jimin into a fit of laughter, garnering amused chuckles from the rest of the table as Seokjin giggled before turning to Yoongi. “Yoongi. Knock, knock!”

            Yoongi didn’t look up from picking at his rice. “No.”

            Seokjin huffed. “Yoongi. Knock, knock!”

            Yoongi looked up finally, staring the older boy dead in the eyes. “It’s open.” Seokjin looked shocked, Taehyung bursting out laughing at the look on his face, the rest of the table falling into fits of amusement (the laughter got louder when Jimin laughed himself off his chair, Taehyung jumping up to help him with glee). Even Yoongi smiled a little, shaking his head as he picked at his food. The tension seemed to be gone, and for that Taehyung was thankful.

            The meal was a quick clean up, Hoseok and Jungkook doing the dishes as Namjoon set up the TV. Taehyung fell heavily onto the small loveseat, stretching a leg across the cushions, his other foot planted on the floor as he reclined against the soft pillow against the couch arm. He yawned tiredly, ruffling his hair as his eyes fell closed. There was movement in front of him, a hand running through his hair lightly, making him sigh. “Mmm, Jiminie, that feels good.” He could nearly hear the smile as the character for ‘tired’ was traced on his forehead. “Yeah, I was up late doing my homework. You’re a bad influence.” Taehyung cracked an eye open to playfully glare. Jimin just smiled sweetly, a blanket bunched up in his arms. “I’m moving, sorry.” As he leaned forward to sit up, Jimin’s small hand pressed against his chest stopped him. Jimin shook his head lightly, moving to sit by Taehyung’s knee, before scooting back between his thighs. Taehyung’s breath caught as Jimin settled down against his chest, laying on his side and tucking his head just under Taehyung’s chin, his hands folding under his own chin after pulling the blanket over them. He snuggled close, yawning softly before glancing up shyly.

            The character for ‘okay’ was brushed along his abs hesitantly, Jimin’s cheeks pink as he waited for Taehyung’s response. Eyes closing tight for a moment, Taehyung nodded, wrapping an arm over Jimin’s waist to anchor him against his chest, his other hand moving to stroke through Jimin’s ebony locks. The smaller boy sighed happily, relaxing fully into Taehyung’s arms as the movie started.

            “Hey, Hyungs.” Taehyung glanced up quickly, blinking in surprise when Jungkook’s flash went off. He blinked the white spots away with a muttered curse.

            “Damn it Kook, what the hell?”

            “What? It was too cute not to photograph!”

            Taehyung’s cheeks were red and he could feel Jimin squirming in his arms now. At a particular wriggle, Taehyung had to bite his lip, sinking the sharp teeth into flesh to keep from letting out a surprised moan. Jimin didn’t appear to notice as he shifted again, his hip digging unknowingly into Taehyung’s dick, creating a friction that had Taehyung panicking. He closed his eyes and willed his body to calm down and relax, but Jimin kept moving, not enough for the others to notice, but enough for Taehyung to want to sink into the couch and die. He chest felt tight suddenly (not unlike his jeans), his heart picking up speed as he moved slightly, attempting to create a pocket of space between them. Jimin made a small huffing sound, annoyed as he twisted his hips to lay flat, forcing Taehyung’s legs to spread a bit more to allow the smaller boy to move onto his back against Taehyung’s chest. The new position put the plump rise of Jimin’s ass straight up against Taehyung’s dick, the pressure making the younger boy bite back a hiss.

            When Jimin shifted yet again, wiggling his shoulders a bit in a way that had his ass moving too, Taehyung finally snapped, hands coming from where they rested loosely on his own knees and tightened around Jimin’s chest below the blanket, holding the smaller boy still in a vice like grip. Jimin inhaled in surprise, his head tilting back slightly to meet Taehyung’s gaze. The brunet boy released his lip from between his teeth, breathing out shakily as he licked his dry lips, moving forward to whisper softly into Jimin’s ear. “Stop. Moving. So. Much.” His voice sounded strange even to him, darker and a bit deeper, a slight rasp belaying his arousal. “Please.” Jimin’s eyes widened as he turned his head a bit more to catch the molten look in Taehyung’s eyes and the pink tint to his golden skin, gaze trailing down to where their bodies were joined. Taehyung took a deep breath and let his head fall back against the pillows, licking his lips again as he tried to ignore his half hard cock pressed up against his best friends delectably plump ass. Jimin suddenly wiggled backwards again, making Taehyung’s breath catch in his throat, nearly swallowing his tongue in his effort to catch the surprised sound. Jimin stilled.

            If there was any confusion as to what was going on earlier, Jimin had a clearer picture now and Taehyung simultaneously wanted to throw himself off a bridge and grind up against Jimin’s ass. His heart was pounding as his mind kicked into overdrive, screaming about how weird he was being, how Jimin was about to jump up and show everyone just how pathetic Taehyung was. He slowly loosened his hold on Jimin to signal it was okay for him to get up, sighing softly in both relief and regret as Jimin moved. He didn’t dare open his eyes, embarrassment thrumming through his body, quelling the arousal a bit. What was he, thirteen and watching soft core porn for the first time? This shouldn’t be affecting him so much, it was humiliating.

            It was on that note that Taehyung swung his legs off to the floor, walking behind the big couch to head down the hall discreetly, slipping into the bathroom and shutting the door quickly. His reflection had him groaning lightly. His cheeks were pink and his dark eyes bright with want, his half hard cock apparent in the front of his tight jeans; Taehyung covered his face and leaned back against the wall, inwardly screaming.

            The door opening made him squeak in shock, eyes wide as Jimin slipped into the room. The ebony haired boy leaned against the closed door, hands still on the knob behind him as he eyed Taehyung appraisingly, his gaze travelling down and stilling for a moment below Taehyung’s waist line, before their eyes locked again. Taehyung flushed redder, ripping his gaze from Jimin’s with a groan. “I’m sorry, I’m really sorry Jiminie. I didn’t mean to—you know how it is, sometimes you just can’t help—but I’m sorry, really! I swear I didn’t mean to make it weird.” He finished lamely, pinching the bridge of his nose. A soft huff of laughter got his attention and he covered his face again. “Please, just go. I’m embarrassed enough as it is. This is mortifying, literally kill me.”

            There was the soft click of a lock turning before small hands encircled his wrists, pulling them down and away from Taehyung’s face in a firm grip. Taehyung kept his eyes stubbornly closed, biting his lip even as Jimin moved to stand fully in front of him. “You can hit me if you want, I deserve it.” He finally said on a whisper. Jimin released his wrists and he breathed out slowly, eyes finally opening to look at the boy standing in front of him. Jimin smiled a small, fond smile, his hands moving to rest against Taehyung’s pecs, a finger tracing ‘Taetae’ a few times before sliding down Taehyung’s stomach teasingly. The brunet’s eyes widened, no longer breathing as Jimin’s hands skated along his hips, fingers sneaking to brush the skin just under the sweaters hem, before moving to trail along the outside of slender thighs. Taehyung’s knees buckled as Jimin’s fingers traced along them before a lone hand gently brushed up the inside of his thigh.

            His head hit the wall with a solid thunk as Jimin leaned up against him, their chests brushing as Jimin’s hand wandered higher, fingers skating lightly over the bulge in the brunet’s jeans. Taehyung’s heart was racing as his eyes flew open, meeting Jimin’s half lidded gaze, searchingly. “What. . . what are you doing, Jimin-ah?” Jimin pursed his lips as if in thought before he smiled, his finger tracing ‘help’ along Taehyung’s thigh before the hand moved to cup Taehyung through his pants. Taehyung’s hips jerked in surprise, eyes falling half closed at the feeling as Jimin increased the pressure with each stroke, squeezing gently in a way that had Taehyung muttering a curse. His mind was foggy, even as his neck and ears reddened with embarrassment. “You don’t. . . Jiminie!” He breathed softly, a soft whine leaving his mouth as Jimin dropped gracefully to his knees, glancing up at Taehyung with a breath taking smile as he fiddled with Taehyung’s belt. “J-Jiminie, please, you don’t have to—” A sharp pinch to the inside of his thigh had him gasping in pain, the fog lifting momentarily as Jimin rolled his eyes up at him. “Ouch, you ass! I just don’t want you to feel—” Another sharp pinch had him hissing in pain as Jimin pulled the belt from his belt loops, hands making quick work of Taehyung’s button and zipper before he paused, glancing back up at Taehyung.

            The younger boy bit his lip as Jimin looked to him for permission, his cherub cheeks the softest pink and his eyes big and dark as he gazed up from where he was on his knees in front of Taehyung. When the brunet didn’t make a sound or move, Jimin’s hand slowly came up to rub him through his boxer briefs, a perfect eyebrow quirking in question as he slowly poked his tongue out, running it slowly over his lips without breaking eye contact. Taehyung muffled a groan behind his hand, nodding shyly because honestly, what other answer was there?

            Jimin grinned up at him, tugging Taehyung’s pants and boxer briefs to his knees without hesitation. Taehyung only had a moment to feel nervous before Jimin lifted his hand up, pulling his rings off his right hand and stuffing them in his pocket before licking his palm and grasping Taehyung firmly. The younger boy’s hips stuttered in shock as he was slowly pumped, Jimin’s small hand gliding over the sensitive flesh confidently; Taehyung made a soft sound of pleasure that had Jimin glancing up, his dark eyes burning as he smiled, leaning forward to lick Taehyung from base to tip slowly. Taehyung’s eyes were blown wide as his hand sank into Jimin’s hair, the other clutching at the hand on his thigh. Jimin’s breath was hot on him as he leaned closer, lapping at the tip before his mouth opened to take in the whole head. Taehyung bit back a moan, his hand tightening in silky strands as he died and ascended to heaven.

            Jimin’s mouth was sinfully hot and wet, his tongue flattening along the large vein as Jimin bobbed his head carefully, going down farther each time as his jaw got used to the sensation. Taehyung’s breath was coming in harsh pants he tried to stifle by biting his lip, his entire being focused on Jimin’s mouth around him. The older boy pulled off to lick down his cock’s length, his damp hand sliding down before cupping his balls tightly as Jimin sank back down on him, heading bobbing in earnest now, tongue tracing patterns as he occasionally pulled back to lave attention at the head, humming softly as he slid back down.

            Taehyung’s knees were buckling as he gasped softly for air, hips bucking on accident at a particularly hard suck, his hand tugging hard around ebony strands. Taehyung’s eyes flew open as panic filled him, his hand releasing Jimin’s locks quickly. “I’m sorry Jiminie, I—” He was cut off by a soft gasp, eyes wide as Jimin muffled a moan around him, untangling their fingers to bring Taehyung’s hand back to his hair and pressing it against his skull. Taehyung threaded his fingers hesitantly into his hair, meeting Jimin’s heated gaze as he slowly tightened his hold. Jimin’s eyes fell half-mast as he pulled off Taehyung to pant softly, cheek pink before he was gripping Taehyung again, licking a long strip along his length before sliding back onto it.

            This time though, Jimin slowly relaxed his throat, his hands coming up to gently tug Taehyung’s hips forward a bit, sliding the brunet deeper into his throat. Understanding suddenly, Taehyung swallowed thickly and could feel his face burning even as he tightened his grip and tugged on Jimin’s hair; the smaller boy’s eyes falling shut, his soft moan vibrating around Taehyung as the brunet gently rolled his hips forward as Jimin tugged on them, building a slow and steady rhythm that had Taehyung groaning heatedly. Taehyung’s knees buckled as he watched him, admired the way Jimin’s plush, soft lips looked around his cock, letting him fuck his mouth and use his throat. Every time he tugged hard on Jimin’s hair, the older boy moaned, the soft sound muffled and sweet, and after a few moments, Taehyung watched as Jimin palmed himself through his jeans, making the younger boy bite back a loud moan at the sight. Jimin’s eyes opened to meet Taehyung’s gaze, his eye smile present even through the arousal burning there.

            “J-Jiminie. . .” Taehyung moaned softly, his body hot and shaky as his knees buckled again, Jimin pinning his hips to the wall and taking over, working him over good with his mouth and tongue. Taehyung’s jaw was slack as his brow furrowed, his breathing hurried. “Jimin-ah, I’m going to. . . I need to. . .” He tried to warn but Jimin only smiled around him, his hand reaching to roll his balls in hand, relaxing his throat again until his nose was nestled in coarse hair and he deep throated him. That was all it took, Taehyung coming hard with a soft moan of Jimin’s name, breathing harshly as Jimin swallowed around him, a little cum running out the corner of his mouth. Taehyung watched as Jimin pulled off of him and pulled his underwear and jeans back up before he leaned down to tilt Jimin’s head up by his chin. Jimin gazed at him curiously as Taehyung ran a thumb to catch the cum and gently wipe it away, his hand lingering there. Jimin caught his hand as it pulled away, eyes locked on Taehyung’s as he pulled the hand towards his swollen lips, licking the pad of Taehyung’s thumb before pulling the digit into his mouth to swirl his tongue around it, sucking teasingly. It came out with a wet pop that had Taehyung groaning softly.

            “Fuck, Jimin-ah.” Taehyung whispered, voice hoarse as Jimin stood gracefully, rubbing his jaw with another breathtaking smile. He reached his hand out to rest on Taehyung’s cheek before sliding it to rest along his neck, thumb resting over his pulse point where Taehyung’s heart beat erratically. Taehyung just stared at him in awe before he swallowed hard around his dry mouth and took a step closer into Jimin’s space, crowding the older boy back against the sink. Jimin’s smile dropped and was replaced by shock as Taehyung’s hands landed on the counter on either side of his body, caging him in as the brunet leaned closer. “That was. . . fucking incredible. You’re incredible.” Jimin’s cheeks bloomed red even as he seemed to glow at the praise, his eyes shining. “And. . . I’d like to return the favor.” He managed to whisper, raising a hand to gently press against Jimin’s abs and slid to the hem of his jeans, fingering the button. Jimin swallowed hard, his hands coming up to grip Taehyung’s shoulders tight; his chest was rising and falling rapidly as Taehyung’s fingers on the button slid teasingly under the hem, the backs of the digits running through the soft happy trail there. Taehyung leaned closer until his lips brushed against Jimin’s ear, whispering soft and husky. “May I?”

            Jimin shivered lightly, his finger tightening their grip as Taehyung tugged lightly on the jeans to pull the shorter boy a bit closer, his other hand moving to splay across the small of Jimin’s back, warm and large, thumb rubbing soothingly there. The ebony haired boy was bright red and seemed hesitant, teeth sinking into a pillowy lip. Taehyung followed the movement with glazed eyes. “I won’t if you don’t want me to, and I don’t want you to think I’m doing it because I think I have to. I. . . I want to Jiminie.” Jimin looked up at him, surprise etched across his face as he released the lip, mouth open slightly as he gaped at him. Taehyung smiled a bit, shrugging lightly. “I know how you think, and I want this Jimin-ah, I wouldn’t offer if I didn’t.” Jimin’s eyes absentmindedly wandered down to gaze at Taehyung’s lips for a moment before he looked back up, his hand coming up to cover his face in embarrassment. Taehyung grinned at that, heart warm and full as the hand on Jimin’s button came up to snag Jimin’s hand and pull it away. Jimin averted his gaze even as Taehyung pressed the hand to his chest, right over his heart and held it there.

            “Silly boy, don’t hide from me. Never hide from me.” Taehyung took another step into Jimin’s space, the older boy gasping softly at the proximity as he slowly craned his neck back to look up at Taehyung wonderingly. Taehyung’s eyes bypassed Jimin’s gaze, instead falling to land on the soft, pink lips. What would they feel like pressed again his own? Taehyung felt a bolt of need strike through him, almost painful in its intensity. He’s unconsciously licked his own lips, Jimin’s eyes darting to follow the motion as they fell half-mast. “Jimin-ah. . . I want to. . .” Jimin’s hands came up to cup Taehyung’s jaw softly, his fingers fitting around the sharp planes of his face perfectly, slightly cool to the touch. His eyes were dark with want as he nodded slowly. Taehyung’s now free hand came up between Jimin’s upraised arms to gently grasp his chin, tilting Jimin’s head back as he leaned forwards, their eyes locked on one another.

            The first brush of lips was soft and tentative, a little shy in its sweetness; Taehyung’s eyes falling closed as he sighed softly and tilted his head a bit more to deepen the kiss. Jimin fell against his chest on a sigh, his arms winding around Taehyung’s neck to pull him in closer. His lips were just as soft as Taehyung had imagined, and he couldn’t resist biting down on the plump upper lip and pulling gently; Jimin’s breath caught even as Taehyung kissed him again, firmer this time and the ebony haired boy seemed to unfurl like a flower opening it’s petals beneath his mouth, his lips parting to let Taehyung in, hot tongues rolling together in a soft dance that, for once, Taehyung knew every step to. Taehyung nearly moaned at the taste of him; Jimin tasted like something sweet and smooth like honey or cinnamon, a heady concoction that had the brunet’s mind fogging. He knew he was being greedy, his tongue licking through Jimin’s mouth and startling a soft, barely vocal moan from the smaller boy as he dominated the kiss, Jimin’s lips pliant beneath his.

            Taehyung had just broken the kiss to take a deep breath, lungs gasping for air when Jimin made a soft sound of protest. The smaller boy’s hand dug into brunet locks and yanked Taehyung back down, teeth nipping at Taehyung’s lower lip before Jimin was kissing him hard. His tongue laving over the bitten lip soothingly before forcing its way into Taehyung’s suddenly slack mouth; Taehyung made a soft sound of pleasure, knees weak as Jimin’s tongue had his mind blanking, Jimin’s now familiar sweetness mixing with the remaining hints of Taehyung’s orgasm going straight to his head. It was addictive, the way their lips fit and slid together, the way Taehyung couldn’t get enough of Jimin’s mouth on his. Every time one of them pulled back to breathe, the other was yanking them back desperately, and Taehyung wasn’t sure there was a point he would feel okay not kissing Jimin now.

            Hands were grasping at each other, Jimin pushing closer just as Taehyung tried to pull him in, the distance between their bodies both nonexistent yet as wide as a canyon. Taehyung was drowning in it, the heat, the taste, the smell of citrus cologne, the need to simply be closer, closer, closer. Jimin seemed to feel the same, his passionate kisses coming rapidly before the smaller boy’s hands were grasping his shoulders suddenly. That was the only warning Taehyung had before Jimin was jumping up, his legs coming up around Taehyung’s waist as he was caught and set on the counter top, reeling Taehyung in closer between his thighs. Taehyung went all too willingly, fitting his body against Jimin’s with a groan, hands sliding from his hips and grasp at the thick thighs tight around his hips, marveling at the muscle there. Jimin whimpered when Taehyung pressed closer and pushed up against the bulge in Jimin’s too tight jeans, the sound was so, so soft but it had Taehyung shuddering, biting a plump lip in retaliation. Jimin gasped and Taehyung took the moment to lick back into his mouth, a hand leaving Jimin’s thigh to palm him above his jeans.

            Jimin’s lips left his as his breath caught in his throat, head tipping back and Taehyung licked his lips, leaning in to trail open mouthed kisses along the smooth, satiny skin. His hand stroked firmly, Jimin’s hips rolling against it as the older boy panted harshly, letting out a soft whine when Taehyung nipped the skin under his earlobe, sucking on the skin until it bruised. Jimin shuddered lightly, his arms pulling Taehyung impossibly closer as Taehyung nipped along his jaw, his hand moving to unbutton Jimin’s jeans in hurried movements. The zipper followed in a swift motion and Taehyung’s fingers dipped under the hem only for the brunet to pull back slightly with a frown. Jimin met his gaze with difficulty, chest heaving as he eyed Taehyung in confusion.

            “Your jeans are too tight.” Taehyung whined softly, voice low and deep, raspy with want as he tried to tug the pants down. Jimin’s laugh was more audible than normal, a sweet tinkling that had Taehyung’s knees quaking with want as he leaned in to steal a hard kiss. Jimin shifted his hands to the sink quickly, pushing up to lift his hips off the counter. Taehyung’s eyes darkened at the show of strength before he was yanking the pants over the crest of Jimin’s (perfect, perky, delicious) ass enough to free his groin from the painted on material. “I hate these jeans.” Taehyung growled, but the heated smirk Jimin sent him told him he hadn’t concealed the arousal in his voice as much as he meant to. The character for ‘whatever’ was traced along his hip lightly before he was pulled close again, Jimin’s lips lifted up and searching making Taehyung groan before they were kissing heatedly again. Taehyung wasted no time in tugging his boxers down, Jimin gasping as his heated skin met cool air, breaking the kiss to pant as Taehyung’s fingers danced along the length playfully. Jimin’s hands tightened in his hair, tugging in admonishment that had Taehyung chuckling lowly before he was licking his palm and stroking in earnest. Jimin’s lips fell open under his mouth, his breath coming hard and fast as Taehyung’s hand moved up and down, his thumb slicking through the precum beading at the top before running along the heavy vein. Jimin whimpered softly as Taehyung moved to kneel, catching Taehyung and holding him closer.

            “Jimin-ah, I need to kneel to return the favor.” Taehyung laughed breathlessly as Jimin’s lips travelled down his neck, panting heavily as Taehyung’s hand continued to stroke long and hard. Jimin shook his head frantically as his hips rolled into Taehyung’s hand, gaze wild as his eyes met Taehyung’s. The brunet was blown away by the pure want and need in Jimin’s glowing eyes, his face flushed and sweat slicking his bangs to his forehead as he made a soft sound, biting his lip to stifle any more noise. Jimin’s hand came up to shakily trace something over his heart, finger frantic and shaking enough that it took multiple tries before Taehyung realized it was the character for ‘kiss’. “Oh, Jiminie. Oh, baby.” Taehyung moaned lowly, leaning down to kiss the ebony haired boy, loving the way he shook and grasped onto his sweater, a soft sob catching in his throat at the stimulation Taehyung was providing. Taehyung brushed kisses along his jaw and throat, murmuring soft praises and compliments before taking his lips in another searing kiss, Jimin’s bucking hips growing frantic as he neared orgasm.

            Taehyung pulled back and leaned down to swallow around Jimin just as the smaller boy’s body stilled, mouth dropping open in a silent cry as his orgasm hit. The brunet drank him down greedily as his hand moved in time to the soft sucks, the bittersweet taste of Jimin’s cum flooding his senses and making him moan around the boy’s cock. He couldn’t take his eyes off Jimin’s face as pleasure swept through him, his head thrown back slightly and aglow, his skin warm and flushed as plush pink lips parted at the force. He was radiant, Taehyung’s heart pounding almost painfully, like an angel taking flight or the sun breaking through the ground to open the day; he was beautiful and Taehyung couldn’t resist standing quickly and locking their lips together again, Jimin sluggishly kissing back and wrapping his arms heavily around Taehyung’s neck to keep him close. The heated kisses slowly simmered down to lazy brushes, lips swollen and kiss bruised as they found their footing again.

            It seemed like an eternity later that Jimin was finally pulling back, panting heavily as he rested his forehead against Taehyung’s shoulder, his arms moving from Taehyung’s neck to slid around his chest, Taehyung’s arms winding around Jimin’s shoulders. They were silent for a few moments, the intimacy of the moment filling Taehyung with a sense of peace as he smiled at himself over Jimin’s head in the mirror. Jimin lifted his head with difficulty, gaze meeting Taehyung’s with a sleepy smile. “You’re so beautiful.” Taehyung blurted out, flushing when Jimin’s eye widened, bringing a hand up to cover his own mouth. “Sorry.” He muttered around the hand over his mouth, eyes closing as he shook his head lightly. The sound of an unrestrained chuckle had his eyes flying open. Jimin’s head was thrown back as he laughed, the sound bright and colorful, dancing through the air between them and giving everything a soft pink glow. Taehyung stared at him, entranced, as Jimin finally wiped underneath his watering eyes, smiling so hard his eyes were crescents and his cheeks pink and round. Taehyung couldn’t help but lean in and kiss both cheeks quickly, planting a kiss at the outside corner of each eye before pulling back to see the soft look Jimin was giving him. “So, so beautiful. And I’m not sorry, actually.” Jimin just let out a soft laugh again, shaking his head lightly before he was pressing on Taehyung’s chest, making the taller boy move so he could stand and fix his clothing.

            Taehyung watched as he washed his hands thoroughly and dried them before moving so Taehyung could do the same, Jimin yawning softly as Taehyung finished up. He smiled brightly at Taehyung before he stepped forward to wrap his arms around Taehyung’s waist in a warm hug. Taehyung returned the gesture, pressing a soft kiss to Jimin’s hair. He pouted when the ebony haired boy stepped away all too quickly, Jimin checking his appearance in the mirror and running his hands through his hair before moving to the door.

            A sudden lurch of anxiety had Taehyung pressing the door closed when Jimin unlocked it and tried to open it, the older boy looking at him over his shoulder in surprise. Taehyung worried his lip, eyes on the ceiling for a few moments before he met Jimin’s gaze. “Okay, not to be one of those guys, but what was this to you?” At Jimin’s astonished look he quickly rushed on. “Because I don’t do hook ups. Like ever. I’m old fashioned that way. But I’m not clingy either, if this was a one time thing then I’m not saying I’m happy about that, but I’d understand. If that was just you fixing a problem you felt like you created, just a pal helping a guy out, then I’ll respect your wishes. But that’s not what it was for me, I don’t just. . . want this to be a one time thing. But I also don’t want to ruin our friendship, because I was serious when I said you’re my best friend, Jiminie. But I’d like to. . . I don’t know, go out. With you. Like, as a date. You and me, dating. And kissing! Lots more of that, if you want that too?” Taehyung could feel his face turning redder and redder until he felt like the steam had to be escaping from his ears at this point. Jimin’s face was frozen as he babbled, dark eyes blown wide and lips (soft, sweet, delectable lips) parted. Taehyung was inwardly screaming for himself to shut up, but anxiety had taken the reins and weren’t relinquishing them anytime soon. “I want that, more of this. I want to hold your small, adorable hands and kiss your perfect cheeks. Is that something you’d want too? You can have time to think about it, if you want! I know I’m dumping a lot on you, god, I’m sorry! I can’t seem to—” Soft lips pressing to his ended his endless stream of chatter, firm and gentle as they quieted the storm raging in Taehyung’s head. Jimin kissed him twice more, keeping them chaste but all the sweeter before he pulled back and leaned against the door, digging out his cell phone and typing rapidly.

Park Jiminie

[Taehyungie, yes! I want to date you; let you kiss my cheeks and hold my NORMAL SIZED hands (you giant). I want to kiss your cheeks too, nibble on those adorably big ears, do more. . . less than innocent things with you. ;) This wasn’t a one time thing for me, though I was prepared for you to freak out when I came in here. I really, really like you Taetae. I want dates and kisses.]

            Taehyung’s breathing was shaky as he read the message, eyes prickling and he blinked rapidly to ward the emotions off. He knew his face was blank, the way it always went blank when he felt too much and wasn’t sure how to express it all. Jimin was smiling shyly up at him, running his hand through his hair again and Taehyung felt something in him loosen. He caught the hand and brought it to his lips, brushing a kiss along the knuckles before pressing another kiss to the inside of Jimin’s wrist before he grinned at the ebony haired boy. “Your hands aren’t normal sized, they’re itty bitty! And my ears aren’t that big, Jimin-ah.” He pouted playfully, laughing softly when Jimin rolled his eyes and snatched his hand back, shoving Taehyung with a huff.

            Taehyung caught him when he turned to leave, whipping him around and yanking him close in a move that had Jimin looking shocked as Taehyung kissed him hard, tongue insistent against plush lips until Jimin relented with a soft groan, allowing himself to be kissed silly, kissing just as passionate in return. After a few more quick kisses, Taehyung finally released him with a grin, though he kept ahold of a small hand. “Let’s go on a date. Tomorrow. I’ll pick you up at your house at five and take you out. Okay?” Jimin nodded breathlessly, softening at the sight of Taehyung’s boxy smile. “Awesome. Seriously awesome. We should get back out there before Kookie or any of the Hyungs come looking for us.” Jimin just nodded with a bright grin.

            Taehyung opened the door then, motioning for Jimin to step through before noticing their audience with wide eyes. Seokjin and Namjoon were leaning against the door, ears clearly having been pressed to the wood, wide eyed expressions on their faces. Jungkook and Hoseok were on the ground, kneeling lower than Namjoon and Seokjin but leaning in a way that suggested they had had their ears pressed to the door too. Yoongi stood a few steps back, trying to appear uninterested but Taehyung knew better then to believe that. They all just stared at each other for a long, silent moment with wide eyes before Jungkook finally spoke up.

            “Yay for progress?” He tried an innocent smile.

            Taehyung took a long, deep breath before nearly shouting. “How long have you been there?!”

            “Only a few moments! We only caught the end conversation!” Namjoon quickly replied, hands fluttering nervously in the air as if to ward off Taehyung’s anger (which even he had to admit was more embarrassment then genuine anger). Seokjin was laughing hard, leaning against his boyfriend as the two boys on the ground hopped up. Yoongi quickly backed up down the hall to disappear into the living room as Taehyung threw his hands up in the air.

            “Nosey assholes, what the hell?!”

            “To be fair, this is my apartment you’re getting it on in.” Seokjin replied, smirking when both Jimin and Taehyung went red, eyeing their linked hands. “Though, if it’s for true love then I suppose I don’t mind having to bleach both my bathroom and my brain.”

            “Hyung!” Taehyung whined, covering his face with his hand before pulling Jimin through the small crowd to the living room. “You’re embarrassing me!”

            “Ah, truly my favorite past time.”

            “Shut up, please god, shut up.” Taehyung took his seat again, cheeks burning at the paused movie screen. Jimin went to sit beside him when Seokjin was suddenly grabbing his shoulders and steering the smaller boy to the big couch between Hoseok and Yoongi. Taehyung watched in horror, eyes wide in shock. “Wait, what? Leggo my Jiminie!”

            “Nope, no way. I can forgive once but consider this your punishment! Now be a good boy and watch the movie. Kook-ah go sit by Taehyung-ah.” Seokjin replied, pointing a both amused and disgusted Jungkook to sit beside Taehyung. The brunet stared longingly at Jimin as the smaller boy laughed silently behind his hand, wiggling the fingers playfully at Taehyung and blowing him a kiss. The brunet huffed and fell back against the couch cushion heavily, grumbling under his breath as Jungkook gave him a look.

            “You smell like sweat and shame.”

            “Suck my ass, Jeon.”

            “Not even if it would save the lives of everyone I loved.” Jungkook replied gravely, laughing when Taehyung elbowed him hard. The older boy rolled his eyes dramatically and pouted, glancing over to meet warm, amused eyes. He couldn’t help but grin big and boxy.

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

            The next night, Taehyung nervously climbed the stairs up to Jimin’s front door, hands shaking and sweating a bit as he stopped in front of the door. Contrary to popular belief, Taehyung didn’t date much; he was known to go on a date here and there every now and then, but for the most part Taehyung avoided them like the plague for exactly this reason: the nerves. His pulse was jumping, his body trembling, and his stomach was so full of butterflies he felt like he’d be puking them for weeks. He rubbed his hands on his black slacks to dry them, tugging nervously at the black scoop neck he was wearing underneath a navy blue button up he had left unbuttoned, the white flower pattern of the shirt hidden beneath his black leather jacket. Taehyung closed his eyes and took a deep breath, resisting the urge to run his hands through hair he had painstakingly styled over a yellow headband (he was not about to ruin half an hour of fidgeting with his bangs until they parted perfectly), or check to make sure his Gucci earrings and necklace were perfect. With one more glance over his wrist and finger jewelry, Taehyung finally nodded to himself and adjusted the bouquet of colorful flowers in arms before knocking softly.

            It was silent for a few moments, giving Taehyung enough time to consider if they would notice if he puked in their bushes before the door was swinging open to reveal Jihyun. Taehyung blinked in surprise, mouth opening a bit when the younger boy looked him up and down critically before sighing. “You should run.”

            “I’m sorry?”

            Clearly not feeling like explaining, Jihyun took a step back and motioned him in. “Too late now. Come on in, hyung is still getting ready to leave. He takes forever in the shower then panics when he realizes he doesn’t have enough time to do his makeup.” Taehyung was more shocked at the speech Jihyun had just given then the idea of Jimin taking forever to get ready (honestly, that just made him feel fonder). Taehyung stepped in and shed his jacket, surprised again when Jihyun took it and hung it on the coat rack for him with a small smile.

            Narrowing his eyes at the younger boy, Taehyung crossed his arms. “Okay, who are you and what did you do with Jihyun? You know, Jihyun? Taller than Jiminie but not half as cute, attitude like a rattlesnake caught in a trash bin, and the ability to make grown men cry with a single glare?”

            To his surprise Jihyun laughed out loud, a bright smile on his face that was similar but not as brilliant as Jimin’s. “You’re funny, hyung.” Taehyung opened his mouth to respond when a soft, feminine voice cut through the air.

            “Hyunnie, darling, who’s that at the door?” A woman came through the doorway Taehyung assumed led to the living room area, her dark hair falling in delicate waves down her back, her skin perfect, and laugh lines around her red painted mouth. She held herself like a ballerina, back ramrod straight and shoulders back, her chin lifted regally in the air. Her eyebrow was quirked as she glanced between Jihyun and Taehyung pointedly. “Who’s your friend?”

            Jihyun was saying, “He’s not my friend!” right as Taehyung spoke too.

            “I’m Jiminie’s friend, actually.” Her eyes locked on his and Taehyung swallowed hard, bowing politely. “Um, I’m Kim Taehyung, ma’am. It’s nice to meet you.” When he straightened, he noticed her raised eyebrow and her gaze on the flowers. Foolishly, Taehyung lowered the bouquet as if to hide it with a light flush.

            “And you know our Jimin how?”

            “I was his school guide when he first got here. We’ve been really close friends ever since then, he’s my best friend actually.” Taehyung discreetly pinched his thigh hard to shut himself up, glancing to the stairs in hopes that Jimin would suddenly appear and rescue him.

            “Well, I’m glad Jimin made a friend. I’m Mijeong, Jihyun and Jimin’s mother. My husband, Pilwoo, is in the kitchen supervising dinner preparations. Follow me, we’ll get you something to drink and get those flowers in water.” Mijeong turned gracefully on her heel and headed down the hallway, not looking to see if Taehyung was following. The brunet glanced to Jihyun, who looked both amused and exhausted before slowly following, shooting the stairs one more look.

            The hallway led to a grand dining room, all dark wood and large windows filtering in the muted light of the sunset; the table was big enough to seat at least eight people, the seats padded and high backed. The chandelier overhead was dripping with crystals, the light glittering prettily down to the table set for four (Taehyung was alarmed when he realized they actually ate on real china and drank from crystal stemmed glasses. The urge to freeze in place was strong). Jihyun smirked at the shocked look on Taehyung’s face, dropping into a chair in front of a place setting, lifting the glass of water to the brunet in a mockery of a toast before sipping it. Mijeong snapped her fingers at a woman Taehyung hadn’t noticed in the corner, motioning to the kitchen. “A vase filled with water please. And please prepare another place setting for our guest.” The maid nodded and hurried from the room after Taehyung politely declined the woman’s offer to take the flowers off his hands.

            “Um, really ma’am, you don’t have to go to the trouble!” Taehyung finally found his voice, shrinking a bit under the two Park’s gazes. He lightly rubbed the back of his neck and clutched the flower stems tighter. “Jimin-ah and I weren’t planning on sticking around actually, I was going to take him to dinner at the retro diner downtown, the one with the awesome milkshakes? Then maybe a movie or a walk through the park.”

            “Nonsense, you’ll eat with us. Jimin neglected to tell us you existed, and we’re eager to get to know his friend. Now take a seat here, I’ll fetch you something to drink.” She motioned to the seat across from Jihyun before sweeping off towards the kitchen, the click of her heels disappearing after a few moments. Taehyung just stared dumbfounded after her, only looking away when Jihyun laughed.

            “She’s a bit much, huh? That’s why I said you should run.” Jihyun said conversationally, sitting back, relaxed, in his throne-like chair. “She’s a tad bit protective, prepare for the third degree.”

            “I, uh, wasn’t expecting to meet your parents today.” Taehyung whispered, reluctantly taking the seat.

            Jihyun nodded, leaning forward a bit. “They weren’t supposed to be back until Wednesday, which is probably why Jimin-hyung had you pick him up. I’m as surprised as you are that they’re here.”

            “They travel a lot?”

            “Yeah. Abeoji is a stockbroker and Eomeoni is a prima ballerina. They’re always travelling, Jimin-hyung and I were cared for by a nanny until hyung was old enough to watch me himself. It’s easier nowadays, no one bosses us around and hyung handles the estate in father’s absence.” Jihyun explained lazily, sipping from his glass again. Taehyung filed that information away to think about later, smiling politely when the maid returned with a table set and a matching placemat. She arranged them in front of Taehyung, placing an intricately folded linen napkin on the china plate. She set a vase in the center of the table and Taehyung handed the flowers over, watching as she gently arranged them before bowing and hurrying back off to the kitchen.

            “I can’t believe you guys have maids and. . . and eat off china!”

            “The glasses are real crystal too. Plus, we have a housekeeper, a chef, and three gardeners on staff.” Jihyun teased. Taehyung just made a dramatic hand gesture as if to say ‘exactly!’. “Hey, rich is as rich does.”

            “I had no idea.” Taehyung said softly, glancing around at the expensive furnishings right as Mijeong entered the room again, a maid behind her carrying a tray with four glasses of red wine.

            “I hope you’re hungry, they prepared quite the meal tonight.” She said, taking a glass of wine before sitting at the head of the table between Jihyun and Taehyung. “Pilwoo will be here shortly, he’s very eager to meet you, Taehyung-ssi.”

            Taehyung was about to respond when a figure darkened the doorway behind Jihyun, lingering sunlight dancing across Jimin’s face. Taehyung felt everything in him loosen, his shoulders dropping and his spine relaxing as he met Jimin’s warm gaze with a bright, boxy smile. “Jiminie! Hi!” He barely took in Jimin’s small wave before taking in the tight jeans, his silky light blue button up opened enough at the top to reveal thin collarbones while the sleeve cuffs were rolled just below his elbows. His glasses were gone, his eyes lined and smoky, his lips a tempting pink beneath a head of perfectly coiffed dark hair. He was decked out in silver, his rings and earrings glinting in the light from where he stood leaning on the doorway, and Taehyung could feel his jaw dropping as he took him in. He nearly shivered as the citrusy cologne wafted over him, comforting and familiar as the stirrings of desire hit him hard. Jimin was perfection, pure and simple. “Wow, Jimin-ah. . . you look—” Realizing Mijeong, Jihyun, and a vaguely familiar man (who must have entered the room when Taehyung was busy drooling) were staring at him, Taehyung’s cheeks warmed as he glanced down at his lap. “—nice. You look nice.” He finished lamely, resisting the urge to defenestrate himself.

            Jimin gave him a brief flash of a smile before glancing around the table, eyeing the five place settings before his gaze locked on the flowers. Taehyung rubbed the back of his neck, motioning to them. “Um, these are for you. I know the flower combination is a bit off, but I like the meanings and the way they look together.” Taehyung could feel his cheeks reddening further. “I’ll, uh, tell you later?”

            “Hope and devotion.” The unfamiliar man suddenly spoke, his voice rich and deep as he moved across the room, his hand held out to Taehyung. “I’m a bit of a flower man myself, I appreciate a unique bouquet. Park Pilwoo.” Taehyung stood quickly, biting his lip to stifle a pained groan when his knee hit the tabletop, shaking Pilwoo’s hand as Jihyun laughed.

            “Kim Taehyung, it’s nice to meet you.”

            “Likewise. Are you a friend of Jimin’s?”

            “Yes sir, I am.” Taehyung nodded in emphasis.

            Jihyun grinned from where he sat. “His best friend, actually, if you ask Taehyung-hyung.”

            Jimin shot Jihyun a dirty look before moving around the table, eyes lingering on Taehyung for a moment before he stopped in front of the flowers, his fingers dancing across an iris petal; he smiled fondly before leaning down to smell the flowers, a hand tucking his hair back to keep it from falling over his forehead, his eyes falling shut and long lashes kissing his cheeks. Taehyung’s eyes followed the movements and he swallowed thickly, his heart racing. Jimin was so ridiculously beautiful and Taehyung didn’t know how to cope; It was very unfair. Taehyung felt all the oxygen in the room disappear when Jimin finally leaned back, eyes slowly opening and he smiled as he met Taehyung’s gaze, his eyes nearly closing at the force of the brilliance. Taehyung felt himself smiling in return, laughter bubbling up, filling the room with the happy sound. “I’m glad you like them.” Taehyung jumped when a glass of wine was placed in front of him, eyes leaving Jimin’s to land on the alcohol in surprise.

            “Take a seat Jimin, you and your friend are staying for dinner. The chef has already prepared the food and it would be rude to leave now.” Mijeong commanded, sipping her red wine, eyes locked on Jimin. She looked. . . angry, almost. Taehyung’s brow furrowed as he glanced up to Jimin, the impassive, polite look on Jimin’s face only betrayed by the hard press of his lips. Jimin glanced down to him and he shrugged helplessly. “And take your normal seat dear, they already have you set up across the table.”

            Jihyun’s eyes were locked on his plate as maids filed in, carrying plates laden with food, Jimin’s hand gripped the top of the chair beside Taehyung before he finally moved to the other side of the table and sat beside Pilwoo, who was at the other head of the table. Taehyung shifted uncomfortably in his seat as a steaming plate was placed in front of him on top of the decorative plate holder, hands fidgeting in his lap as he twisted his cloth napkin. They ate in silence for a few moments, and Taehyung had to hand it to the chef, the man could cook. The meat was tender, the side dishes superb, but he would trade it all for a booth in that diner and splitting a milkshake with Jimin.

            “So, Taehyung, you and Jimin are in the same class. Do you have plans for after graduation?” Pilwoo suddenly broke the silence, his tone friendly and curious. Taehyung swallowed a bite quickly, bypassing the wine to carefully sip from the crystal water glass.

            “I’m not entirely sure yet, to be honest. I, um, I like to paint, and I dabble in photography so I know I don’t want a conventional job. I figured I’d take a year off, before going to college and getting my core stuff out of the way while I figure it out and make art on the side.” He responded, smiling slightly with a shrug.

            “The art world is competitive. More people fail then succeed.” Mijeong interjected, her tone disapproving. “Like I’ve always told my boys, you need a real plan and your interests can be a secondary goal. What do your parents think of your plan?” Sarcasm dripped off her last statement, and Taehyung hid a frown, taking a slow sip of his water before replying. Jimin was shooting her a poisonous look.

            “My parents don’t really mind. They believe it’s up to me to decide what’s best for me.”

            “And what do your parents do?”

            Taehyung took a slow breath before smiling. “My Appa is in agriculture and my Eomma is currently a homemaker. My little brother and sister take a lot of her time.”

            Seemingly sensing the rising tension, Pilwoo quickly cut in. “What type of agricultural work does your Abeoji do? How did he become interested in that field?”

            Taehyung smiled then, fond. “He’s an Environmental Engineer. My grandparents own a strawberry farm is Daegu, he grew up on it and just fell in love with agriculture! My siblings and I lived with them for a while and I really enjoyed helping them out around the farm, it was like a different world.”

            “I can only imagine. I bet you’re sick of strawberries!”

            “Actually—” Taehyung grinned at where Jimin had his mouth covered as he laughed silently, not registering the shocked look on his family’s faces. Jimin’s eyes were warm as he shook his head a little and Taehyung stuck his tongue out at him. “Yah, what’s that supposed to mean Jimin-ah?” At the quirk of an eyebrow and a smile, Taehyung rolled his eyes dramatically. “Okay, I’ll admit, you’re right. Hi, my name is Kim Taehyung and I’m a strawberry addict. There, happy?” Jimin just covered his mouth, leaning to the side dangerously as he laughed.

            “So, not sick of them then, I take it.” Pilwoo’s voice was the exact opposite of his wife’s acerbic tone, it was warm and amused, a kindness hidden behind a mask of politeness. His sons look a lot like him, though Jimin seemed to favor his Eomma in looks, though his kindness clearly came from his Appa.

            “How quaint.” Mijeong finally replied, seemingly thrown off even as she smiled politely, sipping her wine. “A fruit farm to call home. In Daegu, you say?”

            “Yes.”

            She took a delicate bite of her food, an almost smug look on her face. “I’m surprised it’s still running; Daegu went to the dogs years ago. Gang activity, crime rates, housing market decline. Such a shame. Not like Busan, our home.” Jimin’s jaw was clenched as he speared a vegetable and shoved it in his mouth, hard gaze on his plate.

            “I bet living by the beach was amazing.” Taehyung replied after a beat, choosing to skip over most of her statement. “I’ve never been.”

            “We lived right off the coast.” Pilwoo reminisced, a smile on his serene face. “Beautiful contemporary home, warm and happy. I was sad to move. But Seoul is nice too, a lot of opportunities here we didn’t have in Busan.”

            “Big city life versus small town living, I bet.” Taehyung smiled at Pilwoo, feeling accomplished when the older man’s smile grew. His eyes disappeared just like Jimin’s did when he was happy.

            “How are you liking the wine, Taehyung-ssi?” Mijeong asked, finishing her glass, eyeing Taehyung’s untouched drink. Taehyung smiled sheepishly, swallowing his bite.

            “I’m actually not a fan of the taste of alcohol, and my parents don’t really allow us to drink anyways so it works out.” Taehyung shrugged lightly, meeting Jimin’s eyes. The ebony haired boy’s eyes were stormy and dark as he rolled his eyes subtly.

            “We let Jimin have wine with dinner, and Jihyun will be allowed to when he turns sixteen. In Busan it’s a common practice.” Mijeong replied, and Taehyung panicked when she sounded almost offended by his statement. He quickly waved his hands lightly in front of himself as if to ward off the irritation.

            “Oh, no! I totally understand, I think it’s nice that you allow that, it shows how much you trust Jiminie to act responsibly. I’ve only ever had sips off my parent’s drinks at family reunions and I just can’t handle the taste.”

            “You’ll grow into it when you’re older.”

            “I’m not one to deal in absolutes but I have a hard time picturing that for myself. I’ll take an ice cold cola any day, though.” Taehyung gave her his most winning smile, wilting a little when she turned back to her food disinterestedly. It bothered him how nervous she made him, how much he wanted her to like him. He glanced over to Jimin to see the boy giving him a heated, imploring look. His eyes seemed to be apologizing for her and Taehyung could only smile at him, winking.

            “What other hobbies do you have Taehyung?” Pilwoo asked, sipping his own wine, his brow furrowed as if annoyed as he glanced at his wife. “What do you do when you aren’t in school?”

            “Well, art is my main interest. I also play the piano and saxophone, and we have two friends who are really into music production so sometimes I’ll help them in the studio. There always needing a baritone to balance out all their tenor voices.” Taehyung laughed lightly, grinning at Jimin’s bright smile. “I like to babysit; kids are my favorite thing in the world, other then animals. Otherwise, it’s just the typical video games, movies, hanging out with my friends. The normal stuff.”

            “You sing?” Pilwoo seemed to perk up at that.

            Taehyung nodded, shrugging his shoulders modestly. “A little bit. Usually just at Christmas for my family and in the recording studio if my friends beg. Normally I don’t subject others to that torture, I save it for lone car rides and showers.” Pilwoo laughed heartily at that, even Jihyun cracked a smile.

            “I would like to hear you sing.” Pilwoo smiled warmly at Taehyung, a twinkle in his eyes. “We have a piano in the sitting room, would you consider playing for us sometime?”

            “Um, sure, if you want me to I could—”

            “You know, our Jimin is a fantastic dancer.” Mijeong interrupted Taehyung, setting her glass down heavily, the clink loud in the still room.

            Taehyung swallowed and nodded. “He really is. I’ve seen him dance, he’s like art personified. It’s like dance gives him wings to fly. I love watching him perform.” Jimin seemed caught between being annoyed with his Eomma and pleased from Taehyung’s compliment.

            “Well, he’s really multitalented. Our Jimin’s singing used to fill seats, even more so then his dancing. He’d take the stage and people would stare is awe as he belted out the lyrics. It’s a shame he stopped after—”

            A harsh slam to the table rattled the dishes and nearly knocked over Taehyung’s wine, Jimin’s chair clattering to the floor. They all stared in shock at Jimin, his fists on the table as he glared at Mijeong, his eyebrows drawn down severely and his lips nearly white with how hard they were pressed together. Taehyung’s breath caught at the anger nearly radiating out of the other boy, more so shocked when Mijeong just calmly took a sip of her drink as she stared Jimin down. “Throwing a tantrum, are we?” Jimin’s glare intensified as he leaned more on the table, hands tightening to white knuckles. Mijeong just stared at him, expression void. “What? Why are you looking at me like that? If you have something to say, just say it.”

            Jimin stood up straight and pushed away from the table, his expression a mix of hurt and anger as Mijeong took a bite. Pilwoo and Jihyun were staring tiredly at their plates, and Taehyung was aghast that no one said anything. Mijeong swallowed and turned to Taehyung. “As I was saying, before my son rudely interrupted, was it’s a shame he no longer sings. He has the most beautiful voice—”

            This time Jimin picked up his crystal glass and turned to fling it at the wall, the loud boom and crackle of the glass shattering and raining down to the carpet interrupting Mijeong once again. Taehyung jumped in fright at the sound, on his feet in an instant as Jimin’s chest heaved, his eyes locked on his Eomma filled with rage and hurt. She was just dead eyed as she stared back.

            “That was one of my favorite glasses, son. Stop breaking things. Stop ignoring what I say. If you have a problem with what I have to say, speak up. Use your words, I’m not going to play into your childish stubbornness. Enough is enough. We have company, be normal for once.”

            “He’s not normal.” Everyone turned to look at Taehyung in surprise, and he just gave Mijeong a hard look. “Jimin isn’t normal, and you shouldn’t want him to be. He’s kind and thoughtful, fiercely loyal and intelligent. He’s the top of our class already, and well-liked by everyone.” Taehyung’s breath was coming faster as he spoke, anger coloring his words. “He can dance in ways most people could only dream about, with such incredible skill and the ability to convey so much emotion in movement, you of all people should appreciate that! He’s just. . . he’s so incredibly complex in a way that leaves you wanting to know more, makes you want to know him. He’s the light that draws people into his warm sphere because they know with him, they’re safe! So what if he doesn’t verbally speak? He doesn’t need to! He’s so expressive in the ways that are infinitely more important. That doesn’t define him. Jimin is extraordinary, so stop trying to fit him in a box he outgrew long ago!”

            Mijeong was looking at him with shock, as if she couldn’t believe he’d dare speak back to her. Jihyun was looking at him, a true smile on his face for once, and Pilwoo just stared down at his plate. Taehyung swore he could see a pleased look on the older man’s face, but he couldn’t be certain. Jimin was speed walking around the table now, reaching past Taehyung to lift his wine glass, staring his mother in the eyes as he drained the glass in one long swallow before his fingers were encircling Taehyung’s wrist and pulling. The brunet’s nerves were on fire, his skin prickling from a mere touch from Jimin, his body almost singing at the contact. Jimin was pulling him out of the dining room then, and Taehyung paused before letting himself be dragged out. “Thank you for dinner.”

            Jimin stalked towards the front door, and despite the frustration he felt, Taehyung couldn’t help but admire the way the black pants hugged his perfect ass. Jimin released his wrist long enough to toss him his jacket and pull his own on before he was towing Taehyung through the front door, letting it slam shut hard behind him. They were pulling out of the driveway before Taehyung knew it, and he was mystified when he realized it was Jimin who was driving, taking a back way out of the neighborhood. The minutes were silent and tense, and Taehyung’s anxiety was too high for him to break it. It seemed like an age before Jimin was pulling into the parking lot of an elementary school, parking jaggedly before he was switching the car off and hopping out, the door slamming behind him.

            Taehyung quickly scrambled to follow, circling the car to find Jimin pacing back and forth, his shoulder tight with tension as he wore a path in the pavement. Taehyung felt helpless watching him, a surge of guilt hitting him in a wave that nearly had his knees buckling. His chest felt tight as he leaned heavily against the car door, barely noticing the cold even as his breath escaped him in puffs. Jimin’s hands were moving rapidly through the air, alternating between shoving through his hair and yanking at his sleeves, his cheeks red with anger and the cold. The brunet could only take it for a few more minutes before the flood gates opened.

            “Jiminie, I’m so sorry. I’m seriously so incredibly sorry. I should not have spoken to your Eomma like that, it wasn’t my place despite how shitty she was being—ah shit, sorry. Despite how upsetting she was being.” Taehyung corrected himself, laughing humorlessly as Jimin stopped to stare at him. “I could handle the shots at me, I’m used to that, but when she started to talk about you. . . I just couldn’t stay quiet when she was so obviously picking at sores. I just don’t get it, why would she do that? But I’m sorry, I should have kept my mouth shut, your parent’s probably hate me now, and I care so much about that for some stupid reason. Jesus, I really fucked up. Please don’t be angry Jimin-ah, you can hit me if you want.” Jimin was heading towards him now, a fierce look in his eyes and Taehyung flinched back reflexively, eyes slamming shut as he waited for the blow.

            He wasn’t expecting the hungry kiss.

            Jimin pressed him against the car hard, but Taehyung hardly noticed the cold biting into his back when Jimin’s tongue made its way into his mouth. The kiss was hard and hot, Jimin taking from Taehyung what he needed, biting at his lips but still laving them with his tongue apologetically. His fingertips bit relentlessly into Taehyung’s hips, pulling them close as Taehyung moaned around his tongue. The brunet’s mind was swimming at the sensations; Jimin’s mouth was hot and wet, his sweet taste dampened with the bitterness of rich red wine, his citrusy cologne overwhelming at this proximity. Taehyung was drowning in Jimin, and he never wanted to surface again.

            All too soon Jimin was pulling back after another passionate, fierce kiss, his eyes still stormy but Taehyung could see the sun on the horizon, the monsoon tamed to a warm rain. He was panting as they looked at each other, and Taehyung could feel his cheeks warming as a small smile bloomed across his lips. Jimin smiled in return before he was collapsing into Taehyung’s arms, resting his forehead against Taehyung’s broad shoulders, the brunet wrapping him in his arms to keep him warm.

            “So, you aren’t mad at me?” Taehyung teased softly, smiling wider when Jimin shook his head quickly. “Do you maybe like me? A little?” He prodded with a grin. Jimin bit the juncture of his neck punishingly, making the brunet squeal a little in pain and shock. “Ouch, damn it! You brat! What are you, a vampire?” Jimin was laughing then, and to Taehyung’s delight he could hear the soft sound of it, lyrical and warm. It washed the rest of his anxiety away and he hugged the boy closer. “Want to go get that milkshake?” Jimin looked up at him with a pout and Taehyung just laughed.

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

            The lights in the retro diner were dim, the red padded booths bright against the black and white checkered floor. A jukebox was shining brightly against the wall beside the old fashioned bar and stools, playing music at a low volume that carried across the diner. Taehyung smiled at the elderly waitress in thanks as she set their milkshakes down before disappearing, and he grinned happily at the frosty pink treat in its fancy glass, a generous pile of whipped cream topped with a whole strawberry. “Oh my god, this is exactly what I was craving.” Jimin just smiled at him from across the booth as he sipped on his banana milkshake, the creamy yellow bright and sunny. “Is it good?” The ebony haired boy nodded as he swallowed with a soft sigh, sitting back against the plush booth back, running a hand through his hair as he gazed around the diner. Taehyung frowned, pouting slightly before he reached a hand forward to gently rest his hand on Jimin’s on the table.

            “Are you okay, Jiminie?” He asked quietly, running his thumb lightly along the back of Jimin’s hand soothingly; his hand felt warm against Jimin’s chilly skin and he frowned again. Jimin glanced to him, shrugging lightly with a small smile that didn’t quite meet his eyes. He looked frustrated, his brow pulled low on a grimace and his lips turned down. He made a vague gesture and Taehyung squeezed his hand lightly. “I’m sorry about tonight Jimin-ah, I wish we could have avoided it. But I hope you don’t take what she said to heart, because she’s wrong. You know that, right?” Jimin didn’t respond, though his other hand came up to clasp Taehyung’s large hand between his smaller pair. His fingers felt like icicles, the nail beds slightly purple with the chill.

            Taehyung pulled his hand away, ignoring Jimin’s startled look as he slid out of the booth and stood. Jimin’s eyes were wide when Taehyung motioned him to scoot over, the ebony haired doing as told and Taehyung was sliding in beside him. Their thighs pressed together as Taehyung threw an arm over the back of the booth, the limb warm where it rested lightly behind Jimin as Taehyung leaned forward to drag his milkshake across the table and take a hearty sip. Jimin’s cheeks pinked as he faced forwards, lightly stirring his treat even as he leaned a bit closer to Taehyung. The brunet fought the blush he felt rising, face blanking as he set his glass back on the table, eyeing Jimin out the corner of his eyes. “You’re really great Jimin-ah. Amazing, actually. I would even go so far to say phenomenal.”

            The brunet grinned as Jimin covered his mouth as he laughed silently, shaking his head at Taehyung’s antics, eyes warm when he turned his head to look at the younger boy. His hand crept over to Taehyung’s thigh, lightly tracing the characters for ‘extraordinary’ and a question mark, his smile teasing. Taehyung laughed even as he nodded. “Yeah. Extraordinary Jiminie. Sounds about right.” To Jimin’s surprise (and his own), Taehyung leaned over and pressed a soft kiss to the ebony haired boy’s temple, his lips lingering there for a moment before he pulled away with a soft flush. Jimin’s eyes were wide, though he seemed pleased; Taehyung cleared his throat before facing forwards and stirring his milkshake. “Your kind of the best person I know. You always know what to say to make me feel better or make me laugh. I’m happy when I’m with you Jimin, even when I’m sad. It’s like the Jimin effect: instant happiness despite all the crap going on around me. No one else makes me feel like that.”

            Jimin leaned closer, tugging Taehyung’s arm around his neck as he rested his head in the apex of Taehyung’s neck and shoulders. Taehyung shivered at the kiss he pressed to his bare neck, lips cold from the shake raising goosebumps against his warm skin. He felt it at a soul deep level, even though Jimin kept the contact chaste and sweet, like a thank you or the return of the same sentiment. Their milkshakes were in front of them, melting slowly as the two stayed quiet and snuggled together in that booth, just enjoying the comfort of the company in the mostly empty diner.

            A soft instrumental thrummed from the jukebox then, familiar even if Taehyung couldn’t place it off hand. Glancing up, Taehyung met the gaze of their waitress, her wrinkled face smiling at him from where she was standing by the jukebox as she winked before heading into the kitchen. He felt his cheeks warm before he was sighing softly and nudging Jimin. “Hey, Jimin-ah. . . want to dance?” The ebony haired boy straightened and Taehyung mourned the loss of the contact and warmth as Jimin raised an eyebrow at him, his lips twitching as he glanced around the diner at the few remaining patrons before looking pointedly at Taehyung.

            Taehyung rolled his eyes with a playful huff. “Who cares what they think?” He hopped up from the booth, extending a hand to the ebony haired boy with a small smile, face blanking to hide the sudden vulnerability he was feeling. “Dance with me.” Jimin was looking at him strangely, eyes narrowed as if confused, his mouth in a tight line as he considered the brunet. Taehyung held his position, though he was growing more and more nervous as the seconds passed. Jimin seemed to come to a conclusion within himself, a bright smile spreading across his face as he took the proffered hand, sliding out of the booth and letting Taehyung lead him a few steps from their booth. Taehyung swallowed down the nerves as he turned to face him, smiling as he wound an arm around Jimin’s waist and drawing him close, raising their clasped hands as Jimin wrapped his free arm around Taehyung to lay his small hand on the taller boy’s shoulder blade. Their chests brushed in the tight embrace as they began to sway, Taehyung leading them in a slow circle, their eyes never leaving each other.

            The blue silk shirt Jimin wore was soft against Taehyung’s palm, and he gently stroked the material with his thumb, grinning when Jimin shuddered lightly, the dark haired boy giving him a disapproving look that made Taehyung chuckle and draw him a bit closer. “I’m surprised you’re letting me lead.” He teased lightly, keeping his voice down despite the diner’s emptiness, the soft music making everything appear soft around the edges and he was afraid being too loud would pop the bubble they had found themselves in. Jimin smirked lightly before he took a step back and forced Taehyung to spin under his arm before wrapping an arm tight around the brunet so he was leading. He quickened the steps a bit, more of a watered down waltz now then the gentle swaying the brunet had gone for, holding Taehyung close. Taehyung shook his head in joking frustration. “Ah, there it is. I knew you were aggressive when it comes to control.” Jimin gaped at him in surprise for a moment before lightly pinching Taehyung’s ass, the brunet gasping in shock as he jumped. “Ouch! Damn you. I warned you, you’re getting tickled later.” His tone was severe for a moment before Taehyung dissolved into giggles, moving his arm from around Jimin’s neck and rub his butt. “That hurt.”

            Jimin just grinned at him and Taehyung felt his heart swoop, moving his arm back up to gently slid into the silky strands at the back of Jimin’s head. His hand left Jimin’s, wrapping his arm tight around Jimin’s neck while the ebony haired boys newly freed hand moved to hold the brunet. Jimin’s hands slid to the small of Taehyung’s back, clasping together there and pulling the taller boy all the closer. Taehyung let his eyes slide shut, a sense of peace washing over him.

            Taehyung had always been tall and gangly, both hyperactive yet klutzy. He was used to running into things in excitement, his limbs constantly knocking things over, always feeling just a little too big and a little too broad to be around anything breakable. But here, with Jimin, Taehyung wasn’t that clumsy oaf he constantly felt he was. He felt delicate and petite, for once not feeling as if his body was too big for his own skin. Jimin’s arms anchored him to the smaller boy, making him feel slender, willowy, Jimin’s dancing skilled enough to lead Taehyung through the slow steps comfortably. Taehyung wasn’t afraid he’d trip or fall, that he’d step on Jimin’s smaller feet; for once he felt compact and perfect, his body felt like he was in control for once. It was a heartwarming realization, the contentment taking on new meaning as Taehyung finally felt as if he fit.

            Soft lips pressed to the corner of his mouth and Taehyung’s eyes shot open, Jimin’s face content and serene as he gazed up at him, a smile lingering on those soft, perfect lips. Taehyung pouted playfully. “Kiss me for real, Jiminie.” He enticed, ducking his head down lower to make the angle easier for the shorter boy; Jimin laughed softly, the sound sweet as he went up on his tip toes slightly to gently press a kiss to Taehyung’s waiting lips. The kiss was soft, simple even, but Taehyung’s heart was about to burst. As Jimin fell back to his feet, his smile intimate and secret as he gazed into Taehyung’s eyes, Taehyung’s breath left his lungs in a rush at the realization.

            He was in love with Park Jimin.

            Taehyung wasn’t sure when it happened, maybe he’d always loved the other boy and he was just now realizing it, or maybe it was in this moment that he truly fell. But Taehyung knew with sudden clarity that it was true. He was in love with his best friend.

            Jimin was staring at him in concern now, a hand coming up to gently press against Taehyung’s jaw in worry and the brunet swallowed the words that were threatening to come out. He shoved them down hard and locked them away, tossing them into the back of a vault and barring the door. After a shaky moment he smiled, leaning down to kiss Jimin softly as the instrumental reached a crescendo. Jimin seemed satisfied when he pulled back, a secretive smile crossing his lips as he stepped away to spin Taehyung again, pulling him back in before stepping to the side to dip Taehyung down towards the floor. The ebony haired boy laughed softly when Taehyung’s arms flew up to wrap around his neck, eyes blown wide with shock before he was being kissed again, Jimin’s lips cool and insistent until Taehyung relaxed. After only moments, Jimin pulled him back up as the music trailed off, grinning at Taehyung’s wondering look as a smattering of applause from the few customers and staff rang through the air. Jimin laughed as Taehyung flushed at the attention, knees buckling weakly and Jimin held him up with a soft laugh of his own before dragging him over to the booth once again.

            Once they were seated again (cozier this time; Jimin was angled towards Taehyung, one leg over the brunets knee to hang between Taehyung’s calves, his arm along the back of the booth and his hand running idly through the hair at the back of Taehyung’s head), Taehyung took a sip of Jimin’s milkshake, making a face. Jimin shook with laughter as he flicked the back of Taehyung’s ear, rolling his eyes. Taehyung grinned. “Banana is weird. Now, strawberry milkshakes? Delicious. Try it Jimin-ah.” He held his glass out in offering and Jimin sighed. Taehyung barely caught the flash of a smirk before Jimin was leaning forward and catching the straw with his tongue, eyes connecting with Taehyung’s as he slid his lips down the straw (a little farther the necessary, Taehyung’s dick screamed). He took a long pull from the milkshake before he released the straw, making a show of licking his lips and wiping his mouth with his thumb, eyes dancing mischievously. Taehyung’s eyes darkened as Jimin smiled innocently, giving him a playful thumbs up.

            It was only minutes later that Taehyung had Jimin pressed up against the door of the car, kissing the ebony haired boy breathlessly as he slid a knee between the smaller boys’ knees. Jimin gasped softly as Taehyung yanked his head back by the hold in his hair, teeth nipping down the column of Jimin’s throat and leaving a bruise along the bared collarbone before he was taking Jimin’s mouth again. The older boy whimpered when Taehyung’s hands slid down his sides to slip into his back pockets and squeeze his ass, pulling Jimin’s groin flush against Taehyung’s cock.

            “Fucking tease.” Taehyung mumbled against Jimin’s lips, sucking the bottom one into his mouth and teasing it with his teeth before releasing it with a wet pop. “Always teasing me.” His teeth grazed Jimin’s earlobe and the smaller boy’s breath caught. Jimin’s hands had a tight grip on Taehyung’s hips as he rolled his own, making the taller boy groan softly at the pressure. Jimin panted harshly against Taehyung’s ear as the brunet leaned down to pressing open mouthed kisses to Jimin’s jaw, mouthing at the jewelry handing from his lobe before he whispered, “I was only gonna kiss you goodnight at the end of our date, you know. I was going to be a gentleman.” His lips contradicted his words as he hit a spot beneath Jimin’s ear that had the older boy gasping and shaking, sucking hard enough to leave a bruise and earn the softest moan from the silent boy.

            He couldn’t help but smirk as he pulled back to look at Jimin’s face, noting the flushed cheeks and arousal darkened eyes, plush lips swollen from all the kisses and bites. He cupped Jimin’s jaw, giving him a heated kiss before gripping his hair in one hand and using the hold to crane his neck back. Jimin whimpered softly, eyes falling half closed as the other hand brushed down his throat to his chest, Taehyung undoing one more button so his fingers could splay fully across that tempting collarbone. “I was going to be a gentleman.” He repeated, tilting his head to the side as his sultry gaze locked with Jimin’s. “But something tells me you don’t want a gentleman, do you?” He loosened his hold on Jimin’s hair enough for the older boy to swallow hard and nod. Taehyung smiled at that, the hand on Jimin’s chest sliding under the silky material of his shirt until Taehyung teasingly brushed a nipple, Jimin jolting at the contact. “You know, I didn’t get to officially return the favor last night. I’d like to, would you like that?”

            Jimin’s gaze was impossibly hot as he lifted his hand to his own mouth, his middle finger pressing against his own lips until he slid it in slowly, Taehyung’s gaze locked on the motion, making a show of sucking lightly on it before it popped out again and Jimin dragged the damp digit along his jaw and down his neck. It skated along his chest and abs teasingly slow, Taehyung’s body scorching with anticipation as the hand finally slid along the front of Jimin’s jeans. Jimin’s eyes fell half-mast as his breath caught when he palmed himself finally, and Taehyung groaned at the sight as Jimin’s hips jolted forwards into the contact.

            Taehyung pulled the ebony haired tease into a hard kiss, the contact messy as their tongue met desperately in Jimin’s mouth, the older boy making soft sounds every time he rubbed himself in just the right way, Taehyung’s hand sliding into Jimin’s back pocket, squeezing to encourage the movement. For a moment, Taehyung was thankful he had parked behind the diner, the area dark and unseen from the road, because the thought of anyone else seeing Jimin like this, as Taehyung’s tongue fucked his mouth and Jimin touched himself, cheeks pink and eyes closed with pleasure, had Taehyung seeing red. Taehyung’s next kiss was little possessive as he pulled Jimin with him away from the car door, Jimin’s hands flying to Taehyung’s shoulder as the brunet lifted him with a grip on his ass. Jimin’s legs locked around Taehyung’s waist as Taehyung moved them around to the back of the SUV, opening the back and setting Jimin on the ledge. “Get in, babe.” Taehyung rasped, voice dripping with want and desperation, and the ebony haired boy complied at once, scooting back so Taehyung could clamber in after him and shut the door.

            Taehyung made quick work of leaning the seats behind Jimin back so they lay flat, a quick press of a button auto starting the car and heat warmed the cabin. Jimin lay back against the flattened seats after removing his jacket, eyes following Taehyung’s movements as the brunet shed his jacket and flower printed shirt, leaving his black scoop neck on. Jimin removed his own belt quickly before Taehyung was descending on him, lips hot against Jimin’s. They kissed for a long time, hands wandering over each other’s bodies, exploring newly discovered territory for them both. Jimin discovered that Taehyung liked when Jimin bit his neck with more force then a nip (though not enough to bruise), the pleasure-pain send a jolt of need straight to his cock, a gasp leaving his throat and making him grind against Jimin’s hip. Taehyung discovered Jimin’s thighs were extra sensitive when his hand slid along the back of one to pull it around his hip; Jimin’s breath quickened at the pressure when Taehyung’s hand skated just under his ass, his back arching when Taehyung grasped him there in a tight grip. Jimin liked his hair pulled and Taehyung liked when Jimin’s hands slid up his shirt to rub along his nipples.

            Taehyung finally pulled himself up after a series of breathtaking kisses, gazing at the wrecked boy beneath him, Jimin panting softly, his chest rising and falling rapidly as he whined at the loss of contact. Taehyung shuddered at the sound, gaze sliding along Jimin’s splayed out body to fall on the tent in the front of his jeans. He made quick work of the button and zipper, Jimin scooting farther up so Taehyung could almost lay down between his legs, the ebony haired boy lifting his hips enough for the brunet to yank the jeans down to mid-thigh. Jimin’s breath came faster, louder than when they had done this in Seokjin’s bathroom, as Taehyung pulled his boxer briefs down. Jimin’s cock was dark pink and hard, precome already beading at the top and the sight had Taehyung’s mouth watering with need.

            Without a second thought, Taehyung took it in hand and lowered his lips to the head, tonguing eagerly at the slit as the salty taste assault his senses. Jimin’s body jolted, his breath leaving him in a gush of air as if it was punched from his lungs. Taehyung smirked to himself, humming at the taste before he fully enveloped the head, sucking gently before pulling back to lick a fat stripe along the bottom of Jimin’s length. A breathy moan caught his attention and his head jerked up to look dumbstruck at where Jimin’s face was upturned, cheeks pink and eyes closed. He slowly pumped the older boy smoothly, before taking it in his mouth again, sliding down and opening his jaw further to accommodate the ebony haired boys’ girth. He bobbed his head back and forth slowly, making sure to keep his lips tucked around his teeth as the lewd slurping sounds filled the car; Taehyung barely paid it any mind as Jimin moaned softly again, and he shuddered at the sweet tone to it, the pitch much higher than Taehyung’s own baritone. It was beautiful, and every small sound he drew from him sent a pulse of arousal through his own body, but he ignored that in favor of trying to wring as many sounds from Jimin as possible.

            So, he teased him, bobbing his head quickly before pulling off completely to lap at the head, his hand stroking Jimin’s cock in soft, torturously slow movements. Taehyung’s other hand came down to roll Jimin’s balls in hand, mouth swallowing around Jimin quickly before he tongued the slit. The multitude of feelings wrung a cry from Jimin, and Taehyung’s eyes closed as the sound of it washed over him. Jimin’s hips rolled in his hand, and he glanced up to meet the impatient boy’s frustrated face, smiling cheekily at him before taking him in mouth again. He pleasantly tortured Jimin like that for minutes more, bringing him to the brink before depriving him of orgasm, pumping him to keep momentum until Jimin came down from the near high again, only to help him reach near bliss again before repeating his actions.

            Taehyung was humming lightly around Jimin’s cock, enjoying the taste of Jimin’s precome and the lovely sounds the older boy was making, when a hand threaded through his hair and gripped tight. Taehyung had to suppress his gag reflex when Jimin shifted his hips below Taehyung’s mouth, rutting gently into his mouth contrasting with the firm grip on brunet locks. Taehyung glanced up through watering eyes, noting the determined look on Jimin’s face as the ebony haired boy breathed heavily, his eyes rolling back in his head as he thrust up again. Taehyung moaned around him, giving in and sucking him off in earnest now, mouth eager as he brought Jimin to the edge in no time at all. Jimin’s grip slackened to allow Taehyung to pull off but the brunet vigorously continued until Jimin was coming hard, his back snapping up off the trunk floor, a high pitched keen leaving his mouth as his eyes slammed shut. Taehyung drank him down greedily with a muffled moan, body shuddering as he came untouched in his pants.

            Jimin had practically melted against the floor, chest heaving after his release with an arm thrown over his eyes. Taehyung sat back panting, rubbing his aching jaw and rolling his sore back. Jimin lifted his hips just enough for Taehyung to redress him, before Taehyung was leaning back against the trunk door, head hitting the window. It was a few minutes before Jimin finally moved, sitting up languorously, running a hand through damp locks. Taehyung sent him a boxy smile as the smaller boy scooted forward, his eyelids heavy as he reached out to pull Taehyung forward by his t-shirt, pulling him into a long hard kiss. Jimin licked into Taehyung’s mouth and the brunet hummed, leaning forward to adjust the angle of the kiss with a soft sigh. They kissed lazily for a few moments before Jimin broke the kiss, resting his forehead against Taehyung’s for a moment, their eyes half open and locked in a heated stare. Jimin’s hand on Taehyung’s chest ran down the brunet’s abs to the front of his jeans.

            Jimin’s hand came back with a surprising speed and he leaned back, tilting his head in confusion, cheeks pinked as if embarrassed or humiliated. Taehyung lunged forward, pulling the unwilling boy onto his lap, Jimin straddling him with a sour look on his face. Taehyung pressed a kiss to his brow, leaning down to nuzzle his neck. “No, no! You’ve got the wrong idea Jiminie, I already came.” Jimin’s jaw dropped at the confession and Taehyung chuckled, sitting back so Jimin could look him in the eye and see he was being honest. “Trust me babe, I was definitely turned on by that. That was probably the hottest thing that’s ever happened in my life. I literally came untouched Jimin-ah, that’s what you do to me.” The ebony hair boy preened under the praise, even if he looked a cross between awed, amused, and embarrassed (maybe a little put out at missing out on the opportunity to touch Taehyung, and the brunet’s chest filled with warmth at that). “I could suck your dick all night, Chim.” He grinned as Jimin covered his face, though the boy had relaxed into his embrace finally. “Shame on you for being such a tease, huh?” Jimin suddenly uncovered his face and smacked Taehyung upside the head, the brunet groaning and holding his head. “Ow, what the hell?” Jimin dug his phone out of his pocket and shot Taehyung a halfhearted glare as he texted him.

Park Jiminie

[You bastard! You could have told me you were into edging! Jesus Christ, I thought I was going to die of blue balls before you finally got me off! You’re a sadist, Kim Taehyung!!]

            Taehyung glanced at the screen as he typed, laughing out loud. “I’m not into edging, what kind of weirdo do you think I am?”

[One who makes his boyfriend wait almost a half hour to fucking cum!]

            Taehyung’s jaw dropped as he looked up from the phone, eyes wide as he stared at the furiously blushing boy. Jimin wouldn’t look at him, fingers nervously clutching at the cell phone in his hands, fingers tapping as Jimin looked out the window as he bit his lip. A bright, boxy smile stretched across Taehyung’s lips as a gleeful laugh bubbled up in his chest. “My boyfriend? Meaning you? Park Jimin. As my boyfriend. Me, Kim Taehyung. Park Jimin’s boyfriend. Really?” Jimin’s lips twitched as he finally glanced at Taehyung, his face fond and exasperated as he leaned in and pressed a soft kiss to Taehyung’s lips. Taehyung chased him as he sat back, hands coming up to cup Jimin’s cheeks so he could press more kisses to his lips, not stopping until Jimin was laughing underneath his mouth. Taehyung finally leaned back but he pressed his hands to Jimin’s cheeks a little harder, smooshing them up. “Are you asking me to go steady with you, Jiminie?”

            Jimin rolled his eyes and yanked Taehyung’s hands away from his cheeks, pouting at the younger boy and making a show of shifting off his lap. Taehyung caught him and pulled him closer, grinning as Jimin settled back in place, resting their foreheads together. “Boyfriends it is.” Taehyung’s smile was wide enough to split his face and Jimin just laughed, the sound bright and unfiltered for once, and Taehyung had to swallow those damn words again.

            Jimin was his boyfriend and Taehyung was hopelessly, irrevocably in love.

Chapter Text

            Taehyung was tired and pleased when he got to school the next day, yawning as he rubbed the back of his neck. Jimin (his boyfriend, Jimin!) and he had stayed up late texting after Taehyung had taken him home, leaving him with a sweet kiss before he floated home. It ended up being really late before Taehyung had fallen asleep with his phone on his chest and a smile on his face. His Eomma had barged in to wake him up that morning yelling about him being late, and Taehyung had scrambled to get ready for school, taking the fastest shower of his life before hurrying through his morning routine. He’d been singing as he walked around the kitchen getting a fast breakfast together before nearly dancing out the door, oblivious to the wondering looks he received from his family. Taehyung had barely heard Yoongi as the older boy drove him to school, head in the clouds and a dopey smile on his face.

            As Yoongi drove off with a fond, exasperated look on his face, Taehyung made a beeline for the doors, barely acknowledging the greetings called to him as he hurried into the school. He was halfway up the stairs when Jungkook’s voice startled him into tripping. “Hyung, wait up!”

            Taehyung barely caught himself on the railing before whipping around to glare at the grinning boy. “Damn it, Kook, you scared me!”

            “I’ve literally been calling your name since you hit the stairs. It’s not my fault you’re deaf.” Jungkook chuckled as he reached Taehyung, throwing an arm around his neck playfully as they reached the landing together. “You were supposed to meet me in the cafeteria!”

            “Sorry, distracted.” Taehyung muttered, hitching his bag higher on his shoulder and peering down the hall as they walked. Jungkook raised an eyebrow at him before letting him go.

            “You okay hyung? You look a little manic.”

            Taehyung finally looked over at the other boy, grinning a big boxy smile that seemed way out of place at school on a Monday morning. “Kookie, I literally couldn’t be any better. I’m the epitome of okay. I’ll see you at lunch, yeah?” He waved quickly before speeding off down the hall to his class, leaving a bemused Jungkook behind. He stopped outside the door for a moment, taking a deep breath and wiping his hands off on his pockets before finally opening the door, his heart racing.

            His gaze immediately locked on Jimin across the classroom, where he was staring down at the book in his hand, delicately pushing his glasses farther up his nose. Nothing had changed, he looked the same as always in his uniform; he wasn’t wearing any make up and the only jewelry he wore were two silver rings on each hand, nothing extravagant. But Taehyung thought he was even more beautiful today, the way the sunlight filtered over his silky ebony hair and brightened his skin, his pink lips plush and soft looking. He was even more gorgeous then normal as he slowly turned the page in his book.

            Taehyung only realized he was standing there staring like an idiot when the student who sat near the door cleared their throat, a smile on their face. Taehyung could feel his cheeks flushing and he stepped through the doorway, ignoring the stares he had garnered by his dramatic entrance as he made his way across the classroom to his aisle. Jimin looked up just as Taehyung turned to walk towards his desk, his gaze locking with Taehyung’s and then he was smiling brightly, eyes disappearing with delight as he waved at Taehyung. The brunet forgot how to breath and he stumbled a bit as his limbs froze for a moment, barely catching himself on someone’s desk to stay upright. The person cursed at him and he made a vaguely apologetic noise, eyes never leaving Jimin’s. The ebony haired boy was laughing now, his hand over his mouth to hide the wide smile.

            Grinning at his own dorkiness, Taehyung finally stopped at his desk and hesitated. He realized then that they hadn’t talked about how open they were going to be, if they wanted people to know or not. Taehyung didn’t care what people thought, but not knowing Jimin’s opinion made him nervous and he wasn’t sure how to even greet the other boy. Taking a deep breath, Taehyung sent Jimin a boxy smile before falling sideways into his chair, leaning it back so the chair rested on Jimin’s desk. He propped on elbow up on Jimin’s desktop and rested his chin on it. “Good morning, Jimin-ah! How are you this morning? I overslept.” He was proud of how normal he managed to sound as his heart was trying to beat its way out of his chest.

            Jimin laughed silently behind his hand again before reaching over with it to gently pull Taehyung’s hand out from under his chin with a soft smile. He intertwined their fingers between them slowly, before resting their clasped hands against his cheek. Taehyung’s skin immediately had goosebumps as the back of his hand brushed along Jimin’s cheekbone, his cheeks reddening even as he smiled wider at the smaller boy. Jimin winked at him and brushed his lips lightly against the back of Taehyung’s hand before letting their hands fall between them on his desk.

            That answered that question.

            Taehyung, delighted, leaned over and pulled Jimin’s bangs back to expose his forehead, placing a chaste kiss to the soft skin before letting the hair fall back down as he sat back. He laughed at the disgruntled look Jimin gave him as he fixed his bangs, a smile twitching at Jimin’s lips as his cheekbones pinked. “I missed you, Chim.” Taehyung said quietly once his laughter died down, his gaze darting between Jimin’s eyes and their intertwined fingers as he was overcome with a shy vulnerability. Jimin’s free hand traced ‘same’ on the back of Taehyung’s hand before the hand moved to gently cup Taehyung’s cheek, thumb running along Taehyung’s cheekbone lightly. Taehyung met his gaze with a shy smile, his hand coming up to cover Jimin’s as he turned his head to press a kiss to his palm. “Like, a lot. I know we were together until late last night, but it feels like so long since I’ve seen you.” Jimin laughed at that, ducking his head to hide his pleased smile. Taehyung couldn’t help but grin. “You look really good today, by the way. Like, stupid good.” Jimin was saved from replying when Mr. Lee walked in and Taehyung was forced to turn around with a pout, reluctantly letting go of Jimin’s hand as he faced front. He missed the contact as soon as it was gone.

            As their first class started, Taehyung realized he wasn’t absorbing anything Mr. Lee was saying, staring down at the doodles he’d carelessly drawn along the edges in his notebook, the middle blank of any and all notes. Shaking his head lightly, he focused his attention on the lesson, trying his hardest to pay attention. He made it about five minutes before his attention drifted to the boy behind him. Taehyung could hear as he flipped a page in his notebook before his pencil was rapidly scratching across the paper again. He smiled fondly, picturing Jimin’s brow furrowed in concentration as he made notes, his pencil tapped against his lips as he took in the lecture. He couldn’t help but think of the night before at the thought of Jimin’s lips, warmth curling in his stomach as a small smile twisted his mouth up, bringing a hand up to cover his mouth and hide the look. Jimin was. . . intoxicating. Taehyung sighed softly, imagining kissing Jimin’s lips, running his hands through soft hair, feeling Jimin’s skin beneath his hands. Taehyung bit his lip lightly, shaking his head slightly as he shaded in the doodle of Jimin in the corner of his notebook, taking special care to trace his lips in their perfection. He was so lost in thought that he wasn’t aware of Mr. Lee stopping beside him.

            “Taehyung-ssi. Earth to Taehyung-ssi.” Mr. Lee sighed and gently tapped the brunet on his shoulder, rolling his eyes when Taehyung shrieked and sent his pencil and notebook flying off his desk. Chest heaving, Taehyung turned wide eyes on his teacher, hand over his chest.

            “Oh god, Teach! You just about killed me, make some noise, would ya?” Taehyung reached down and snagged his pencil and notebook, opening the notebook to a fresh page.

            “Taehyung-ssi, I’ve been calling your name for the last two minutes. I don’t know how much louder I could be without shouting.” Mr. Lee seemed both amused and annoyed, arms crossed where he stood beside the brunet’s desk. Taehyung seemed to consider the statement before grinning up at the teacher.

            “Well, maybe we should revisit the idea of putting a bell on you so you’re not sneaking up on innocent students and scaring the life out of them.”

            “You know what my response is going to be.”

            Taehyung sighed and stood up. “’Go stand in the hall Taehyung-ssi. The class just can’t handle your level of awesome for the whole hour. I hope you understand.’” He mimicked Mr. Lee’s higher voice with surprising accuracy before replying to himself in his normal deep baritone. “Okay Mr. Lee, I’m going. This is hardly fair though. It’s not my fault I’m awesome.” He grinned when Mr. Lee cuffed him on the back of his head, the rest of the class laughing at Taehyung’s antics.

            “Just get going, brat.”

            Taehyung shoved his notebook in his bag before throwing it over his shoulder and spinning his pencil with his fingers. “I’m going, I’m going.” Taehyung made his way down the aisle, whistling a jaunty tune. He glanced back at Jimin just before leaving the room, grinning at the exasperated look on the dark haired boys face. He waved cheekily before letting the door fall shut and wandering down the hall.

            He had just bought a snack from the vending machine on the third floor when his phone chimed with an incoming text.

Boyfriend Jiminie

[I’m seriously wondering why I’m dating such a delinquent.]

            Taehyung laughed softly to himself before tapping out a quick reply.

Kim Taehyung

[it’s the oral sex, for sure.]

Boyfriend Jiminie

[Damn, you’re right.]

[It all makes sense now. That and the kisses.]

Kim Taehyung

[that’s all I’m good for, huh? hurtful, Jimin-ah.]

[besides, look who’s texting in class!]

Boyfriend Jiminie

[Boys who get kicked out of class don’t get to lecture their boyfriends. ;P I bet you’re wandering the hall with a snack.]

            Taehyung looked down at his gummies and grinned, holding them up and taking a selca of himself with his snack, the vending machine in the background.

Kim Taehyung

[Incoming multimedia message]

[all these treats and the only snack I’m missing is you!]

Boyfriend Jiminie

[You’re so fucking lame, I swear to god.]

Kim Taehyung

[I’ve got two settings: bad boy and lameass romantic. You need to make a hard decision here Chim.]

Boyfriend Jiminie

[I’ll take all of you then, I guess. <3]

[Even if you ARE a lameass romantic with delinquent tendencies.]

[I’m making great life choices, obviously.]

Kim Taehyung

[that’s me baby! layers. now, I’m gonna wander until Lee comes to find and lecture me.]

[go back to taking notes, you fucking nerd. <3]

Boyfriend Jiminie

[Incoming multimedia message]

            Tapping the picture open, Taehyung’s breath left his lungs in a whoosh. Jimin was looking straight into the camera with a smug smile on his face, a perfect eyebrow arched above his glasses as if jokingly judging Taehyung. His chin was in his hand, head tilted at an angle that made his jaw sharp enough to cut glass, eyelids lowered in an almost effortlessly sultry way. Taehyung immediately saved the photo and set it as Jimin’s contact photo and phone lock screen, a warm smile on his face as he made his way back towards his classroom, eyes locked on the picture as he walked.

*                                  *                                  *

 

            “Hi Hyungs!” Jungkook called as Taehyung and Jimin appeared around the corner, waving from where he was seated on the floor beside the window seat in the upper corner of the library. With the end of November here it was too cold to sit out on the roof during lunch, much to Taehyung’s displeasure, and they had been forced to retreat to his and Jungkook’s second favorite lunch space. The upper floor of the library was always empty, with plenty of windows to let in extra light; the window seats were soft and comfortable, though the windows made them a little cool.

            “Hi Kook-ah.” Taehyung grinned as they reached the younger boy, plopping down on the floor beside him with his lunch tray. Jimin ruffled his hair as he passed, Jungkook pouting and fixing his locks as Jimin took a seat on the window seat, his tray situated on the seat beside him as he opened his juice. Taehyung shifted over so he could lean back against Jimin’s legs, humming happily when a small hand lightly ran over his hair to the nape of his neck.

            “So, I’m guessing the date went well?” Jungkook was grinning at the two of them, smirking as he bit into his sandwich. Taehyung’s face warmed and he leaned his head back against Jimin’s knees to look up at the ebony haired boy. Jimin just grinned down at him, reaching a hand out to gently boop his nose. Taehyung smiled back before looking back at Jungkook with a boxy grin.

            “Yeah, it did.”

            “So, is it official or not? Can we all stop drowning in unreleased sexual tension now?”

            “We’re official. Also, shut up.”

            “About fucking time!” Jungkook surprised Taehyung by throwing his arms around the brunet in a tight hug before kneeling to hug Jimin around the waist. Jimin laughed silently behind his hand before hugging the younger boy back around the neck. “You idiots finally got your shit together, I’m like a proud parent! I have to tell the Hyungs!” Jungkook released Jimin and pulled out his phone, texting rapidly. Taehyung just rolled his eyes and leaned back against Jimin’s legs again, opening his bag of chips and taking a few before offering them to Jimin.

            “Have you heard from Hoseok-hyung lately?” Taehyung asked curiously once Jungkook had put his phone away. “What was up with Saturday?”

            “I’ve seen him at the dance class we share, and Jimin-hyung and I got together with him once or twice to dance since the party. But other than that, not really.” Jungkook shrugged, though he seemed to wilt. “I don’t get why they haven’t made up yet, Saturday was painfully awkward.”

            “And creepy.”

            “Have either of you spoken to Yoongi-hyung?”

            “Not really. I mean, he apologized for freezing us out and is back to giving me rides to and from school. But we don’t really talk about much in the mornings and he’s always in a hurry after school. Have you spoken to him, Jiminie?” They both glanced up at the ebony haired boy, surprised when he nodded slightly, shrugging a shoulder.

            Jungkook leaned forward. “Has he said anything about Hobi-hyung?” Jimin made a vague hand gesture before wiping his hands off and picking up his cell, texting the group chat the three of them had made for moments like this. Taehyung immediately pulled out his phone.

Boyfriend Jiminie

[He hasn’t said much, just things in passing. It seems like he misses Hoseok-hyung but can’t admit it to himself. I’ve brought it up a couple times when we hang out but he shuts me down pretty fast.]

            “You and Yoongi-hyung hang out pretty often?” Taehyung asked, surprised. Jimin nodded at him, sending him a teasing smile. “I’m not jealous! Just curious! I didn’t know you two were that close!”

Boyfriend Jiminie

[I hang out with him in the studio sometimes, Namjoon-hyung joins us occasionally. I like to listen to their music, give opinions, that kind of stuff. Usually it’s just Yoongi-hyung and I though.]

            “Jealous boyfriend.” Jungkook observed as Taehyung read, laughing when Taehyung shoved him.

            “I’m not jealous! I’m the least jealous person you’ll ever meet!” He insisted, pouting lightly. “I don’t do jealous.”

            “Whatever you say hyung.”

            “Shut up Kookie!” Taehyung turned to rest his chin on Jimin’s knees, pouting harder. “Jungkook’s being mean to me.” Jimin gave him a fake sympathetic nod, patting Taehyung’s head patronizingly. “I swear I’m not a weird and jealous boyfriend.”

Boyfriend Jiminie

[Maybe not jealous, but I wouldn’t go that far. You’re pretty weird.]

            Taehyung’s eyes lit up as he sat up straight with a bright smile. “Jiminie thinks I’m pretty!” Jungkook leaned over to check the text before making a disgusted sound.

            “He said pretty weird. That’s not the same thing as calling you pretty, dummy.”

            “I choose to misunderstand it.”

            “And you have him saved in your phone as—” Taehyung slammed a hand over Jungkook’s mouth rapidly, smiling sweetly.

            “Finish that sentence and I’ll take scissors to every white t-shirt you own.” Jungkook paled at the threat before throwing his hands up in defeat. Taehyung smiled for real before the smile morphed into shock as his phone was plucked from his unsuspecting hand. He turned rapidly and moved to his knees, lunging for the phone in Jimin’s hands. Jimin moved it out of reach and Taehyung fell against his chest as the older boy started to laugh, his shoulders shaking as he batted Taehyung’s hands away. “Jiminie, give it! Some things aren’t meant to be shared!”

            Jimin just shook his head, pouting prettily at Taehyung and the younger boy immediately gave in, slumping down until his head rested against Jimin’s abs, his arms winding around the smaller boy’s waist, cheeks burning. Jimin parted his knees so Taehyung could lean more comfortably against him, a small hand coming to gently pet the younger boy’s hair as he fiddled with Taehyung’s phone.

            “’Boyfriend Jiminie’!” Jungkook muttered under his breath, cackling as he opened his baggie of carrot sticks. “How whipped.”

            “It’s not my fault Jiminie is the cutest.” Taehyung replied, sounding as put out as he felt. Jimin’s fingers worked a little harder on his skull, insistent and Taehyung finally looked up. Jimin was smiling and offering Taehyung his own phone with a shy look in his eyes. Taehyung took the device curiously, glancing down to see his own contact information.

            ‘My Taehyungie’.

            Taehyung resisted the urge to squeal and melt into a puddle, instead grinning at Jimin and grabbing him by his cheeks to pull him into a sweet kiss. Jimin sighed happily, his cheeks warming underneath Taehyung’s hands even as he kissed back. Jungkook made a sound like an angry cat, covering his eyes quickly.

            “Oh, gross! My poor, poor eyes. Where’s the bleach?”

            When Taehyung finally pulled back with another quick kiss, he settled back against Jimin’s legs and shot a grin at Jungkook. Jimin picked his phone up with a soft huff.

Boyfriend Jiminie

[Just wait Kookie, I can’t WAIT to tease you in the future.]

            Jungkook looked up with a smug grin, biting into a carrot. “Too bad for you hyung, I don’t date.”

            “It’s true.” Taehyung shrugged and sipped on his strawberry juice. “Tell him why Kook-ah.”

            “I’m ace and aromantic.” Jungkook grinned at the surprise on Jimin’s face. “I know, everyone is always shocked at first since I’m such a flirt. But yeah, no thanks. Not for me.” Jimin absorbed that for a moment before he smiled cheerfully, leaning over to press a kiss to Jungkook’s hair before sitting back and opening his salad. Jungkook preened under the attention, sharing a smile with Taehyung. “Thanks, hyung.”

            The rest of lunch and the second half of the day passed quickly, and Taehyung was pouting as he dropped Jimin off at his study hall. Jimin held his hands out for the books Taehyung had stubbornly refused to let him carry, and the brunet finally relinquished them with a sad sigh that had Jimin giggling behind his hand from where he leaned against the wall beside the open door. “Okay, I guess this is where I have to leave you.” Taehyung sighed again, sticking his lower lip out in a pout. Jimin shook his head fondly and tucked the books against his chest in one arm, his other hand coming up to playfully take hold of Taehyung’s tie (a teacher had noticed after lunch, forcing Taehyung to put the damn thing on).

            Taehyung’s face warmed, and despite the people milling around them, he placed his hand above Jimin’s shoulder on the wall, taking a step closer. “You have dance today, don’t you?” Jimin nodded, biting his lip lightly. “Can I meet you here and walk you out after class?” Jimin’s eyes were sparkling as he nodded again. “Okay. I’ll see you after class. Bye Chimchim.” Taehyung moved to take a step back when Jimin suddenly tugged on the tie, reeling Taehyung in and standing on his tip toes to press a soft kiss to Taehyung’s surprised mouth. People were staring and whispering but it was white noise as Taehyung’s eyes fell closed, his hand sliding up the wall, so his arm was braced above Jimin’s head as he deepened the kiss. Jimin’s lips parted for him, their tongues brushing tenderly before Jimin was sighing and pulling back. Taehyung leaned forward to snag one more long kiss before he pulled back, catching Jimin’s hand as he released Taehyung’s tie and pressing a kiss to the knuckles.

            “Okay, okay. I’m going now. See you soon Jiminie.” Taehyung’s voice was hoarse as he swallowed, waving weakly as Jimin beamed at him before disappearing into his classroom. The moment he was out of sight, Taehyung collapsed against the wall, knees weak. “God damn. He’s gonna be the death of me.” He gently pressed a hand to his kiss swollen lips before grinning, winking at the group of people staring at him as he pushed off the wall. “Get you one like him! But not that one, that one’s mine.” Taehyung told them as he headed down the hall, chuckling at the whispers that followed him.

            He was still grinning like a fool when he slipped into his art classroom, dropping into the seat beside Kibum and pulling his sketch pad out while whistling a tune. Kibum raised an unimpressed eyebrow at him as he crossed his arms. “Hi hyung!”

            “What’s wrong with you? Why’re you all. . .” He made a vague gesture from Taehyung’s feet to his head. “. . . that.” Taehyung just laughed softly and shrugged his shoulders.

            “I have no idea what you mean, hyung. I’m always all this.” He gestured to himself playfully. Kibum was about to speak again when a girl dropped into the seat across from Taehyung; the brunet wasn’t sure what her name was, though he thought he’d seen her around the school before.

            “Hi Taehyung! My friends and I were wondering if it was true?” Her tone was curious as she leaned in a bit closer, Taehyung leaned back on instinct.

            “I’m sorry?”

            “My friend Seejoon said you and the new kid were acting cozy in class, and people are saying you guys were kissing in the library at lunch. Is it true?”

            Taehyung grinned then, nodding. “Yeah. Jimin’s my boyfriend.”

            “Really?”

            “Yeah, why the interest?”

            She bit her lip, glancing back at a group of girls he could assume were her friends. “It’s just surprising! Nobody knew you liked boys and you don’t date. Suddenly you’re kissing the new guy who doesn’t talk and it’s throwing everyone off.”

            Taehyung frowned a bit, leaning forwards to clasp his hands on the table in front of him, looking her dead in the eye. “I’ve never hid the fact that I’m bi, and I really don’t care what other people think. Jimin,” He stressed the name pointedly. “Is an amazing person with many fantastic qualities. I’m lucky he’s putting up with my general goofiness. If you and your friends are going to spread shit around, make sure it’s kind and accurate.” He leaned back and picked up his sketch pad again. “Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to get back to attempting to draw my boyfriend’s perfect face while sighing dreamily to myself, with the added benefit of driving Kibum-hyung crazy.” The girl, embarrassed and chastised, quickly stood and walked away, her group whispering as she rejoined them.

            Kibum was grinning at him, eyes sparkling with delight. “I loved everything about that.”

            “Of course you did.”

            “And what a bold declaration! Bravo, my friend. I’m actually proud to be your friend for once.”

            Taehyung sat up straight, grinning at Kibum before clasping a hand over his heart. “Oh Kibum-ah! I never thought this day would come, I’m thrilled! Truly!”

            “And now I’m embarrassed to know you again.” His words were cutting but the amused fondness belayed any actual acidity in his tone. Taehyung just laughed and sat back in his seat comfortable, tapping his charcoal pencil against his chin thoughtfully. He had one more week to finish the project set by the teacher the week before Jimin had started school there, and Taehyung hadn’t even begun it over the following weeks because he had no idea what emotion he wanted to portray.

            He knew now.

            With a small smile, Taehyung slowly began to sketch an oval, tongue poking between his teeth as he concentrated. After a quiet few minutes, Kibum spoke up again. “So, boyfriend, huh?” Taehyung made a happy sound in confirmation. “Congrats Tae. Really, I’m happy for you.” Taehyung glanced up then, noting the soft look on Kibum’s normally straight face, his lips turned up in a small smile. Taehyung returned the gesture.

            “Thanks. I’m really happy.”

            “It shows. It’s a good look on you.” Kibum coughed then, his cheeks coloring as he turned resolutely back to his sketchpad. “Makes you look like less of an idiot than usual. It’s a miracle.”

            I’m happy you’re happy. You deserve it.

            Taehyung translated Kibum’s speech to normal words in his head with a smile, horrified to feel his eyes misting over. Rubbing them discreetly, Taehyung turned back to his sketchpad and the half traced out human head. “Yeah, yeah.”

            They traded quips back and forth the rest of class, and Taehyung’s heart pounded with glee as he hopped up and shoved his things back in his bag as the bell finally rang. Kibum watched with amusement as Taehyung struggled to get the bag shut, his fingers twitching excitedly against the zipper; people were staring again, but Taehyung didn’t care. “Going to pick up boyfriend?”

            “Yeah!” Taehyung threw the bag over his shoulder and waved briefly at Kibum. “I’ll see you later hyung!”

            “See ya. Bring him to meet me soon.”

            “I will!” And Taehyung was out the door like his feet were on fire. He raced down the hall, skidding to a near stop in his haste to turn the corner, eyes lighting up at the sight of Jimin standing outside his classroom before he frowned. What was Minwoo doing on this side of the school? He was standing next to Jimin, speaking to him lowly, and the ebony haired boy looked flushed and embarrassed, glaring at the floor. Jimin looked uncomfortable and Taehyung bristled when Minwoo reached out to touch his shoulder, the smaller boy jerking back from the contact. Putting on a fake smile, Taehyung immediately strode forward, uncaring of how his purposeful stride made people part to allow him through.

            He reached the two boys and Minwoo looked up just as Taehyung swooped forward and wrapped his arms around Jimin’s waist, pulling the smaller boy back against his chest. Jimin gave a surprised huff of air as he turned his head to glance behind him, eyes losing a bit of their strain as he took in the brunet. Taehyung pressed a quick kiss to his cheek, then his neck, then just under his ear against the hickey he’d left there, before hooking his chin to rest on Jimin’s shoulder and locking eyes with Minwoo briefly. “Hi babe, I missed you. What’s happening?” He kept his tone light, his heart racing as Jimin leaned back into him, his smaller hands coming up to rest over Taehyung’s larger ones on his waist. The boy across from then shifted uncomfortably and cleared his throat, and Taehyung turned to look at him with a faux surprised look on his face. “Oh, Minwoo. Sorry, didn’t see you there. Hi.”

            “Hi.”

            “What’s up?” Taehyung asked with a winning smile, standing up straight to rest his chin on the top of Jimin’s head, grinning when the boy in his arms huffed, annoyed at the height difference.

            “Nothing. I was just asking Jimin if he wanted to get dinner this Friday.” Minwoo’s tone was petulant as he glared at Taehyung.

            Taehyung pretended to think about it before replying. “That’d be tight for us, we have plans that night.”

            “I’m not inviting you, Kim. Jimin, what about Saturday?” Minwoo ignored the brunet, staring at the smaller boy who seemed to be studiously ignoring him.

            “Oh sorry, we’re busy Saturday too. And every other night after that.” Taehyung replied quickly, giving the broader boy an apologetic smile. “Maybe we could pencil you in for coffee in, oh I don’t know, ten years? Fifteen maybe, I’m feeling a bit antisocial.” Minwoo just gave him a disgusted look before walking away angrily, and Taehyung couldn’t help but be a brat and call after him. “Thanks for the invite!”

            Jimin was giggling lightly in his arms, the smaller boy swatting his hands in admonishment. Taehyung grinned and started walking them down the hall, taking weird and wide steps to keep his arms around the older boy. “Was that too much? Because I really feel like it wasn’t enough!” Jimin’s shoulders shook and his knees were weak, Taehyung holding him up as he laughed quietly. “Okay, maybe I’m a bit of a jealous boyfriend—but only towards assholes! I can’t stand that guy, why was he hitting on you? I’ll kill him.” Jimin was turning around, falling against Taehyung’s chest with a soft snort, burying his head in Taehyung’s neck. The brunet’s eyes fluttered at the feeling, tightening his hold on Jimin’s waist before ducking his head down to press a kiss to Jimin’s ear. “Mine.” He growled playfully, making the other boy shudder at the feel.

            Jimin grinned up at him, a soft look in his eyes as he traced the character for ‘yours’ over Taehyung’s heart. He puckered his lips expectantly and Taehyung groaned softly, heart skipping a beat as he leaned down obligingly to press a soft kiss to his waiting lips.

            “You guys are gross.” Jungkook’s voice pervaded the moment, and Taehyung pulled away to glare at the younger boy.

            “Go away. Can’t you see I’m busy?”

            “Busy marking your territory? Heard.” Jungkook grinned brightly at the dark look Taehyung sent him, sticking his tongue out playfully. “Anyways, no time for you to drool all over Jimin-hyung, we have to get to dance.”

            “Oh, did you switch schools finally, Jiminie?” Taehyung asked the ebony haired boy, finally releasing him but intertwining their fingers (there was a small part of him that loved this the most, the feel of his larger hand engulfing Jimin’s smaller one. There was something so delicate about the feeling, and it made his heart ache a little if he thought too hard about it). Jimin nodded happily, squeezing Taehyung’s hand as they headed to the schools exit. “that’s awesome, I bet Hobi-hyung is overjoyed!”

            “He was, super happy.” Jungkook replied, smiling brightly as they walked through the school doors, rolling his eyes when Taehyung held the door open dramatically for Jimin. The other boy acted shocked, a hand covering his heart as if delighted before he walked through the open doorway with a silent laugh. He didn’t get far before Taehyung was snagging his hand again. “He thinks with the addition of Jimin-hyung we’ll have a good shot at regionals this year!”

            “I don’t doubt it.” Taehyung nudged a pleased and blushing Jimin, waggling his eyebrows. “You guys are gonna do great, can’t wait to see a performance!” Taehyung frowned as they reached Jungkook’s jeep, glancing over to see Yoongi’s truck idling not too far away. “I gotta get my own car, I’d love to drive you to and from dance.” He muttered to himself, pulling open Jungkook’s passenger side door for the ebony haired boy. He leaned in and made eye contact with an amused Jungkook. “Drive safe Kookie, you’ve got precious cargo.”

            “Whatever hyung.”

            “I’m serious.”

            “I will, geez, lighten up.”

            Satisfied, Taehyung moved back from the door, shoving his hands in his pockets as he smiled at Jimin. “Okay. Have fun at dance! I’ll talk to you later.” Jimin took two small steps forward before throwing his arms around Taehyung’s neck, the younger boy making a sound of surprise before wrapping his arms around Jimin’s waist, hugging him tight. Jimin traced the phrase ‘my hero’ on Taehyung’s shoulder blade twice before squeezing him tight again; Taehyung shook his head lightly in pleased embarrassment, using his hold around Jimin to lift the smaller boy up in the air for a few seconds before putting him back down on the ground. Jimin’s arms slid from his neck to grasp onto Taehyung’s biceps, smiling up at Taehyung sweetly before the brunet was leaning down and kissing him softly. Jimin’s lips felt silky smooth against his, the taste of strawberry chapstick pervading his senses and making him smile against Jimin’s mouth. He darted his tongue out, running the tip along Jimin’s full bottom lip slowly before breaking the kiss. “Mmm, strawberry. You tease.” Taehyung’s voice was low and husky, eyes darkening as Jimin stared up at him with a smug smirk. Taehyung brought a hand up to cup the back of Jimin’s head and kissed him again, their tongues tangling together until Jimin was making soft sounds against his mouth, his hands clutching the front of Taehyung’s shirt in a tight grip. Taehyung kissed him once, twice, three times more before he finally pulled back, breathless. Jimin was staring up at him with slowly opening eyes, his cheeks dusted pink and lips damp with saliva, his chest heaving to catch his breath. “Okay, going now. Bye Jiminie.” He couldn’t resist leaning down to steal another long, hard kiss before stepping back onto the curb, ignoring the haunted look on Jungkook’s face as Jimin slid into the car and shut the door, waving at Taehyung with a lip pulled between his teeth. Taehyung blew him a kiss cheekily and Jungkook’s car pulled away, leaving the brunet to walk over to Yoongi’s truck and slump into the seat with a lovestruck sigh.

            “It looked like you were trying to suck his soul out his mouth, just so you know.” Yoongi said in the silence, sounding fairly disgusted as he watched Taehyung buckle himself up.

            “Shut up.” Taehyung said on a dreamy sigh, resting his elbow on the window ledge and propping his chin up on it. “I can’t help it, I’m in love.” Yoongi’s silence made the brunet realize his word choice and he flushed bright red, turning to the other with panic. “I mean, I’m happy! I’m in like with Jimin-ah! Like, like. Like really like, so far in like I can’t even, like—”

            “If you say ‘like’ one more time, I’m going to run this car off a bridge and end us both.” Yoongi threatened as he pulled into traffic.

            “Okay, okay, sorry! I just, um, didn’t mean to say that, like that.” He finished quietly, covering his burning face.

            “Sounds like you didn’t mean to, but your subconscious sure did.”

            “I don’t want to talk about it.” His words were muffled behind his hands.

            “You might want to. Knowing you, you’ll just spit them out randomly while babbling about whatever inane nonsense is currently on your mind. How embarrassing for you.”

            “I know, right hyung? I only realized it last night, but I’ve had to swallow those damn words down multiple times since! All damn day! It just. . . keeps wanting to just pop out! He smiles and I want to say it, he bites into his sandwich at lunch and it’s on the tip of my tongue! And it’s too early!” Taehyung’s hands fluttered nervously in the air in front of him, the motions jerky. “He’s been my boyfriend for all of what, a day almost? I lose control and those words slip out and poof! He’s running for the hills away from my overly intense ass! Hyung, help me!” Yoongi was silent, his hands clutching the steering wheel in a tight grip; Taehyung realized they were almost to his house. “Hyung, you okay?”

            Yoongi didn’t reply as they entered Taehyung’s neighborhood, and he stayed quiet until he parked in Taehyung’s driveway, sighing as he leaned back in his seat. “I can’t do this.”

            “Do what?”

            “This. This thing we’re doing.”

            “Hyung, what are you—”

            “I’m sorry Taehyung-ah, but I’m not the right person to talk to about that. I’d suggest talking to Seokjin-hyung, or Joon maybe, but not me.”

            Taehyung frowned, shifting in his seat uncomfortably. “I’m sorry hyung, I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable, I just—”

            “No, no. You didn’t.” Yoongi pulled his hoodie sleeves down to cover his hands, picking at a loose thread on the hem. “It’s just me being me. It. . . hurts, to think about love. So, I don’t want to think about it, because if I let myself think about love then I’ll think about him. And if I think about him, this calm I’ve carefully crafted and painstakingly drawn around myself will crumble and I’ll have to feel it, feel everything. And I’m not ready for that.” Yoongi let out a long, shaky breath before smiling at Taehyung in a way that didn’t quite reach his eyes. “I’m sorry Taehyung-ah, I really am.”

            Taehyung swallowed the lump in his own throat, unbuckling himself to lean over and hug Yoongi tight, despite the older boys halfhearted struggles. “I’m sorry hyung. I’m here, okay? When you do decide to let those walls down.”

            “I know. Thank you.” Yoongi hugged Taehyung back briefly, his hands tightening in Taehyung’s jacket before he pulled away roughly, trying to be discreet as he wiped his eyes and stared forward stoically. “Now get out of here, I have to get to the studio.”

            “Okay, I’ll see you later, hyung!” Taehyung hopped out of the car with a wave, smiling until Yoongi drove off before sighing sadly and heading inside. Reaching his room, he flopped out on his bed and pulled out his phone resolutely.

            One way or another, he was going to fix this.

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

            “So, you want to parent trap them.”

            “No! I just want to get the two of them into a central location without either of them suspecting, before creating a circumstance in which they happen to meet up and talk. Maybe they end up at the same dinner table, or across from each other on the dance floor. Something like that.”

            Seokjin just looked at him with a deadpan expression. “So, you want to parent trap them.” He repeated, crossing his legs and sipping on his coffee. Taehyung groaned and held a pillow up threateningly.

            “No!”

            “Tae, that’s literally what happened in the movie.”

            “I know that, hyung.” Taehyung threw himself to the floor, putting the pillow under his head with a pout. Seokjin just chuckled before setting his cup down on the coffee table and turning his full attention on the younger boy, sprawling out on the plush carpet beside him. “I just want them to be together and happy.”

            “Me too.” Seokjin said softly, reaching a hand out to brush Taehyung’s hair out of his eyes. “Me too Taehyung-ah. But I don’t know if they’re ready to make any steps forward or back right now.”

            “This whole thing feels a million steps backwards.”

            “To us, yes. But maybe the only way they can move forward is to move back first. We just have to trust them to know what’s best and act accordingly.”

            “I hate waiting.”

            “I know. I do too.” Seokjin held his hand out between them and Taehyung took it, comforted in the contact. They were silent for a few long moments before Seokjin turned his head with a shit eating grin. “I hear congratulations are in order, by the way.” Taehyung flushed when Seokjin made a kissy face at him, rolling his eyes.

            “I don’t know why people are congratulating me. It’s not like I did anything to warrant it. I just started dating my best friend!”

            “We’re congratulating you because it’s a miracle he hasn’t ran away yet.” The older boy teased, rolling to avoid Taehyung’s punch. “Oh come on, I’m just kidding!”

            “I don’t know why I’m friends with you.” Taehyung huffed, crossing his arms.

            “Probably hoping my startlingly good looks will rub off on you.”

            “You’re insufferable, you know that?”

            “I consider it my best feature, though it really is a shame to pick only one.” Seokjin grinned, sitting up and crossing his legs. “And wow, ‘insufferable’. Somebody’s been studying. Do we have a cute little mute boy to thank for that?”

            “He’s truly a terrible influence.”

            “You seem really happy Taehyung-ah.” At the serious tone, the brunet glanced up. Seokjin had his legs pulled to his chest with a smile on his face, his eyes warm. “Honestly happy.”

            “I was happy before.” Taehyung said softly, curiously.

            “I know you were, but that was more of a skin deep level of happy. You always seemed content where you were, but there was this. . . restless energy around you. Like a drum that’s tapping out a rapid beat that doesn’t quite sync up with the rest of the band.” Seokjin explained carefully, his face uncharacteristically thoughtful. “But ever since you met Jimin, even that first night after you met him, you’ve seemed more even keeled, like you’ve been spinning around for all this time but meeting him put your feet firmly back on the ground and erased the dizziness. It’s like he added a beat to the song that makes your drum seem in harmony again, adding that extra layer that makes your unique sound brighter.” Seokjin smiled fondly down at Taehyung, ruffling his hair. “You seem truly happy, all the way to your soul Taehyung-ah, and I’ve never been more grateful. I hope that feeling stays with you forever, because it’s a good look—being in love is becoming on you.”

            Taehyung’s cheeks were burning and he had to look away, rubbing the back of his neck in embarrassment. “Thanks, Jinnie-hyung. . . I am really happy. I just. . . Jimin makes me feel like I make sense. Like someone truly gets me.”

            “Joon makes me feel that way too.” They shared a small smile.

            The door unlocking caught their attention as Namjoon stumbled in, nearly dropping the grocery bags he was holding as he kicked the door shut. He used his shoulder to push his glasses farther up his nose before kicking his shoes off in a haphazard pile that had Seokjin’s eyes narrowing as his boyfriend grinned and waved, heading towards the kitchen. “Hey Jin-hyung, Taehyung-ah!” He lifted the bags onto the counter and started to unpack them. “Hyung, they were out of your favorite tea, so I need to make a quick stop by the convenience store later. I bet they have it. Oh, and your favorite ice cream was on sale, so I snagged two tubs!” He held the ice cream up with a bright smile, shaking them playfully before heading to the fridge.

            “Thanks love.” Seokjin grinned, turning to Taehyung and raising an eyebrow as if to say, ‘see?’. “Fix your shoes, we don’t live in a pigsty.”

            “On it. And ‘we’ don’t live anywhere, you don’t live in a pigsty.” Namjoon countered with a soft laugh, tucking away the last of the groceries before heading towards the door to put his shoes away neatly.

            Seokjin considered that for a moment before seeming to make a split second decision. “We could both not live in a pigsty if you’d just move in.” Taehyung’s jaw dropped in shock as he glanced back and forth between the two boys.

            Namjoon froze, dropping the shoe in his hand before slowly turning to stare wide eyed at his boyfriend. “What?”

            “Move in with me.”

            “You don’t mean that.”

            “I do. Move in.”

            Namjoon made a frustrated sound, quickly walking into the living room to stand in front of Seokjin with his arms crossed. Seokjin just grinned up at him, both of them oblivious to Taehyung’s gaping look. “You don’t. Last week you kicked me out because I broke a coffee mug.”

            “It was my favorite one, and that was the third cup that week.”

            “And two days ago, you pushed me out of your bed because, and I quote, ‘you’re being a cover hug Joonie!’.”

            “To be fair, it was a cold morning and you were hogging the blankets.”

            “What about when you locked yourself in the bathroom and ignored me for three days after I accidentally turned your white sweater pink?”

            “Okay, even I can admit it, that was petty. I quite liked how it turned out.”

            “Jin, you literally wouldn’t speak to me.”

            “You know, all I’m hearing are criticisms and that’s not really an answer.”

            Namjoon threw his hands up in the air, giving the older boy an incredulous look as Seokjin stood up off the ground. “See what I mean though? You don’t want me moving in, you only think you do. You’d be miserable if I was here all the time!”

            “I’m miserable when you’re not here.” Seokjin’s tone was soft as he gently took Namjoon’s hands in his own, squeezing them. “I’m lonely when you aren’t in my bed or destroying my things. I hate waking up without you and not getting to kiss you good bye when you leave for class, I miss you when I’m here alone at night watching a movie or when I do laundry and find one of your t-shirts stuck in with mine. I want you here, Joon. All the time.”

            Namjoon’s eyes looked suspiciously misty as he glanced to the side. “You’ll be sick of me in a week, once I break your TV or your new favorite mug, or, god forbid, your antique mirror.” Seokjin gently grasped Namjoon’s chin and turned his face down to him, smiling sweetly at him.

            “Then we’ll get to have fun picking out new things together, things that fit us and not just me. I love you. And I don’t want to be without you. Move in with me Namjoon.” Namjoon looked conflicted, his face torn between open want and quiet fear, his teeth worrying his bottom lip as he glanced away.

            “I love you too, Jin. But. . . I’m scared.”

            “It’s okay to be scared, just let me help you through it. Take a leap, Joonie. I’m right here to catch you.” After a few moments, Namjoon finally sighed, nodding slightly. Seokjin’s eyes lit up as he threw his arms around the taller boy’s neck with a cry of glee. “Yes! You won’t regret it!”

            “Wait, wait hyung! This is a trial period, okay? I’m not ending my lease at my place for at least three months. We’ll have to sit down and discuss finances and bills, figure out what we’d have to do to get me on your lease after the three months, and—”

            “Blah, blah, responsible adult stuff, blah.” Seokjin interrupted, pulling Namjoon down to give him a searing kiss. “Whatever you want babe!” Namjoon muffled a cry as Seokjin started pushing him back towards the bedroom, his hands wandering down over the younger boy’s ass and the youngest boy took that at his cue to leave.

            Taehyung quickly stood and grabbed his bag with a bright smile, inching towards the doors. “Congrats guys, seriously. Now, I’m gonna go before you start humping like bunnies and I’m scarred for life. Love you both!” Taehyung hurried out the door to the sound of Namjoon’s groan of embarrassment and Seokjin’s happy laugh.

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

            “Thanks for doing that, Hyungs.” Taehyung called from the recording booth, pulling the headphones from his ears carefully as these ones had a bad habit of yanking on his hair. Namjoon grinned back at him through the window, giving him a thumbs up while Yoongi stayed focused on the panel in front of him. Hopping down from the stool in front of the microphone, Taehyung opened the door and entered the small room where the older boys sat in front of the computers and recording equipment, catching the tail end of the recording he’d just made. “Does it sound all right?”

            “It sounds good, Tae.” Namjoon replied with a warm smile. “I’m proud of you! The song is really good.”

            “For a novice.” Yoongi muttered teasingly, though the smile he shot Taehyung after belayed his harsh words.

            “Hey! It’s the first song I’ve written. And it’s in English.” Taehyung pouted playfully, falling into a chair behind Yoongi and rolling it forwards to peer over his shoulder, resting his chin on the shorter boy’s shoulder. “Can you play it back for me, hyung?” Yoongi nodded wordlessly, fiddling with a few more things before the soft opening strains of ‘Winter Bear’ coursed through the room. He listened intently, the back of his neck and tops of his ears warming at the still weird sound of his own recorded voice.

            When it had ended, Namjoon sat back with a small smile. “I’d say with a few more artistic tweaks it’ll be finished. It has a lovely sound Tae, almost like a lullaby. And the background instrumental is really nice.”

            “Thanks, hyung.” Taehyung smiled, knocking his head lightly against Yoongi’s. “I wanted it to sound peaceful, calming. I think you guys have managed that. Thank you again for doing this.”

            “You help us all the time with our songs, even when we make you sing for hours to get the perfect sound. This was nothing.” Yoongi dismissed as the track started again, the blonde’s eyes locked on the screen as he made subtle tweaks to it. “You did most of the hard work here, we just pressed the record button.” Taehyung rolled his eyes, a fond smile on his face. “We were coming here anyways today. Namjoon has a new song he’s been playing around with and he needed help.”

            “New song?” Taehyung perked up, turning to the bespectacled boy beside Yoongi. “What new song?”

            “I wrote this song a couple weeks ago and I’m struggling to get it recorded.” Namjoon was frowning as he pulled a few sheets of music from a folder on the table, handing them to Taehyung. “I can’t get the sound right, nothing seems to work the way I want it to.”

            Taehyung scanned the lyrics for a moment, a smile on his face. “I like these. Is it named yet? And what’s wrong, exactly?”

            “The songs name is ‘Promise’. And I’m not sure.” Namjoon turned to the quiet blonde. “Hey hyung, can you play my recording from the other day—”

            Before he could finish there was a soft knocking on the door of Genius Lab, the three of them turning just in time to see Jimin peek his head in with a small smile, balancing a drink holder in hand. Taehyung’s heart flipped as he jolted up from his chair and slammed his finger on the button to silence his song playing softly; Yoongi gave him a dirty look before closing the song file properly, turning to wave lightly at the ebony haired boy. Taehyung ignored the odd look Jimin sent him, barely hearing Namjoon call a greeting as he crossed the room in three long strides, cupping Jimin’s face in his hands. “Hi Jiminie.” He said softly, leaning down so their foreheads brushed. Jimin’s smile lit up the room, his free hand coming to rest on Taehyung’s hip lightly, tracing a hello there as he was kissed lightly.

            “No making out in my studio.” Yoongi called pointedly, smirking a bit when Taehyung whirled around to give him a cross between a dirty look and an embarrassed grimace.

            “We weren’t making out! I was just kissing my boyfriend hello! Geez.” Taehyung shook his head, turning back to Jimin and offering to take his bag. Jimin handed it over easily with a quick kiss to Taehyung’s cheek in thanks, handing the brunet the strawberry smoothie nestled in the drink holder, the only bright concoction next to the three white coffee cups. Taehyung made a gleeful sound in thanks as Jimin handed Yoongi and Namjoon their cups, shaking his head when they tried to give him money.

            “Thanks Jimin-ah, you’re a life saver. New favorite dongsaeng.” Yoongi took a sip with relish, sighing happily as Taehyung made a sound of protest.

            “What? How’s that fair? We grew up together, why aren’t I your favorite?”

            “Simple. He gives me coffee, you give me headaches.” Namjoon threw his head back and laughed at that, Jimin hiding his silent laugh behind his hand as he fell weakly onto the couch, Taehyung pouting as he sipped his smoothie despondently. Yoongi was still smiling as he turned back to his computer. “Anyways, did you want me to play the practice track of ‘Promise’?”

            “Yeah.” Namjoon rolled his chair back to hand Jimin the music sheets, catching him up as Yoongi searched for the track. Taehyung fell back into his rolling chair, winking at Jimin when the other looked up briefly to shoot him a smile before focusing on the lyrics in front of him. “So, I recorded this with me singing and then got Jungkook-ah to sing it too, but it’s not hitting my ear the way I want it to. Listen.” Yoongi had found both tracks, starting with the recording of Namjoon. They listened all the way through, staying silent and contemplative until the track ended and Yoongi started Jungkook’s version right after. Taehyung listened intently, getting what Namjoon meant. Something about both versions felt off, as if the song was unfinished or unpolished and he couldn’t pinpoint why. When that version ended, Yoongi closed the file, turning to face the others.

            “I’m not quite sure what’s wrong with either version, but I agree. Something’s not quite right.”

            “Taehyung-ah, will you sing it for me?” Namjoon asked, running a hand through already messy hair, making the locks stick up crazily. Jimin leaned forward immediately and tried to fix it even as Namjoon ran his hand through his hair again.

            “Um.” Taehyung glanced towards Jimin nervously, his cheeks warming as he took the offered music sheets. “Uh, sure. I guess. Did you want me to go in there?” He hooked a thumb over his shoulder at the recording booth and Namjoon just shook his head.

            “Here’s fine.”

            Taking a deep breath, Taehyung waited for the instrumental to start before opening the song with the beginning lyrics. His voice stayed soft, a gentle waver to it anytime he glanced up and met Jimin’s eye smile, having to look away as his heart pounded. He made it past the first chorus when Namjoon was sighing and pinching the bridge of his nose. Cutting himself off, Taehyung lowered the lyrics and rubbed the back of his neck, cheeks flushing. “Sorry hyung.” Jimin reached over and squeezed his hand reassuringly as Namjoon looked up in shock.

            ‘No, no! It’s not you Taehyung-ah, you sounded great! It’s just not what I want the song to sound like.” He explained quickly, sending the brunet an apologetic smile. “You were great, really.” Jimin took the sheet music from Taehyung, the brunet letting them go easily as he glanced to where Yoongi was tapping his fingers on the desk.

            “Is it the lyrics that are bugging you?” Yoongi asked. “Or the tonality?”

            “I have no idea, I’m seriously stumped. It’s like it’s missing something, and I don’t know what that something is!” Namjoon took a long sip of his coffee, eyes on the ceiling as he thought. “I’ve tweaked the lyrics, I don’t want to change the background music, and I’ve tried it in different pitches. Hell, Tae’s a baritone, Jungkook is a tenor, and I fall somewhere close to tenor. Other than trying a female voice, I’m not sure what else I could change.”

            Yoongi and Namjoon were throwing ideas back and forth and Taehyung glanced over to his boyfriend; Jimin’s fingers were tapping rapidly against his knee, his face paler now and his eyes looking far away. Concerned, Taehyung leaned in and asked softly, “Hey, Jiminie, are you okay?” Jimin gave him a brief smile before returning his eyes to the lyrics, biting his lip softly. He looked a little green, and Taehyung could see a light sheen of sweat on the older boy’s forehead. He stood and sat on the sofa beside Jimin, leaning in close to whisper. “Jimin-ah? Are you feeling okay?”

            The ebony haired boy stood suddenly, his shoulders tense as he walked over to the recording booth before pausing. His hand was shaking where it rested on the handle, and Taehyung heard him exhale harshly. Namjoon and Yoongi were oblivious, lost in their own world even as Jimin rolled his neck and pushed the door open, letting it shut quietly behind him. Taehyung’s eyes were wide as he watched the ebony haired boy lift the headphones and stare at them, seeming to debate with himself even as he slowly slid them on and perched on the stool in front of the microphone. He lifted the sheet music before slowly looking up, meeting Taehyung’s gaze for only a moment before he glanced to where Yoongi and Namjoon were now silent and wide eyed as they stared at Jimin. The ebony haired boy looked back down to the lyrics, his hand shaking lightly as he let out a long, shaky breath before nodding to himself.

            Yoongi managed to hit the play button on the instrumental just as Jimin started to sing softly. His voice was quiet and almost breathy the first few lines, as if from disuse, before it seemed to strengthen and grow clearer in the next few. His voice became more confident, lilting and sweet as he neared the chorus, his eyes shut as he sang from memory. “I say that it’s all fine, the truth is that’s a lie.” He ended the line on a particularly high note, the tone sweet and carrying smoothly as he moved into the chorus. “I want you to be your light, baby, you should be your light. So you won’t hurt anymore, so you can smile more.” Taehyung’s whole body had stilled as the beautiful notes washed over him, his chest aching as his eyes never left Jimin’s singing face. “I want you to be your night, baby, you could be your night. I’ll be honest with you tonight.”

            The instrumental played into the second verse and Jimin’s voice complimented it perfectly. His voice was like the purest honey, like the sweet taste of sugar or the light fall of a summer rain. It reminded Taehyung of sunny skies and twinkling stars, of the gentle kiss of wind on his skin. Tears were running down his face before he knew it, as the second chorus ended. “Now promise me, oh, oh. Several times a day, oh, oh. Even if you feel that you are alone, oh, oh. Don’t throw yourself away, oh, oh.” Jimin’s lips had curled into the softest smile as he sang the end of each line, his voice rising and falling naturally, the end of each line like an alluring prayer from his lips. It was only a few more lines, Jimin’s sweet “And promise me now,” ending with the soft ‘oh’ pattern doubled, before Jimin’s voice trailed off as the song ended.

            The room was filled with silence now as Jimin slowly took the headphones off and rested them on the stand, hands folding in his lap as he stared at the ground. Taehyung was taking him in, the tense face, the now stiff shoulders, his hands twisting his rings anxiously; Namjoon had his face in his hands and Yoongi was staring hard at the computer screen, his face carefully blank. Taehyung’s vision blurred as he hiccupped on a sob. Jimin’s gaze shot up in surprise, meeting Taehyung’s gaze and taking in the tears there with shock, eyes glancing over to Namjoon and Yoongi before he was biting his lip. He slowly stood and brushed his lap off, opening the recording booth door and stepping out, though he lingered there even as the door shut.

            “Jimin-ah.” Namjoon finally let his hands fall into his lap, and Jimin’s jaw dropped at the tears on the older boy’s face as they made eye contact. Namjoon shook his head lightly for a moment, as if to gather himself before he was smiling widely. “Jimin-ah,” He repeated. “That’s it. That’s what it was missing!” He was laughing suddenly as he stood, rapidly walking over to the smaller boy and yanking him into a hard hug, lifting Jimin from the ground at the force of the embrace. “This song was made for your voice!”

            “That was perfect.” Yoongi’s calm façade had broken and he had a wide smile on his face, shaking his head in wonder. “That was beautiful Jimin-ah.” Namjoon finally put Jimin back down as he bounded back to his seat, eyes alight with excitement and delight.

            “Did you record it? Please tell me you didn’t forget to press the record button hyung.”

            “I remembered, but just barely.”

            Their Hyungs talking became background noise as Jimin slowly turned to face Taehyung, his face pinched and worried. Taehyung’s gaze had never left Jimin, from the moment he walked into the booth until now, silent tears running down his cheeks as he sniffled lightly. Jimin’s brow furrowed as he took a hesitant step forward, only to pause as if unsure; Taehyung’s breath caught on another soft sob as he extended his hand out to Jimin from where he sat on the couch. They stared at each other for a long few moments before Jimin finally reached forward and took Taehyung’s hand, the brunet tugging him over until he sat sideways across his lap, wrapping his arms tight around Jimin’s slim waist. Jimin’s small hands came up to cup his cheeks, his thumbs brushing the tears away even as more fell, before Taehyung hid his face in the crook of Jimin’s neck.

            Jimin wrapped his arms around Taehyung’s neck tightly, rocking him slightly as the character for ‘okay’ was traced rapidly and repeatedly onto Taehyung’s shoulder blade. The brunet nodded his head in response, even as his shoulders shook; Jimin’s hand was in his hair, stroking his hair soothingly, the rings on his fingers cool against the heated skin of his scalp. Taehyung pressed his lips lightly to the now damp skin of Jimin’s neck in a soft kiss, the feel of the other boy’s pulse against his lips calming him with its steady beat. He focused on that, on the hand running through his hair, on the feel of Jimin solidly in his lap. After a few moments he was calm again, taking deep shuddery breaths as he leaned back against the couch cushions, hand coming up to wipe his eyes.

            “I’m sorry.” He whispered, voice croaky and damp sounding. He cleared his throat and tried again. “I’m sorry Jiminie. Man, I’m such a loser.” He laughed quietly to himself, shaking his head as he finally looked up to meet Jimin’s confused and worried gaze. “I’m sorry for getting so emotional, I just. . . I wasn’t expecting that. You’re just. . . you just become so much more every time I see you. You blow my mind, every day, and I shouldn’t be shocked by how extraordinary you are at this point, but it still boggles my mind.” Jimin’s cheeks were pink, his eyes soft as his hand came up to gently trace a finger along Taehyung’s cheekbone. Taehyung leaned into the brief touch, eyes shining and filled with awe. “Jiminie, you’re so amazing. And your singing voice is. . . so angelic and pure, so beautiful it literally moved me to tears. I actually cried.” He laughed softly again. “You amaze me, and I’m so thankful that you shared that with me. I love—” His eyes widened as he caught himself, stumbling as he tried to find a natural way to end that statement. “—that you felt comfortable enough here to be that vulnerable and let me, let us, hear you sing. Thank you, Chim.” Taehyung’s face was on fire, and he could see Yoongi smirking knowingly at him from behind Jimin, the older boys having stopped their conversation just in time to listen to Taehyung’s embarrassing monologue.

            Jimin’s brow was furrowed as if he was pondering something, and Taehyung prayed it wasn’t his accidental slip even as the smaller boy’s gaze was searching his face for something. He swallowed hard, unable to look away even as his instinct was to close his eyes. He nearly cried in relief when Namjoon spoke, catching Jimin’s attention, the ebony haired boy standing up to turn and face the older boys (Taehyung was delighted when Jimin sat back down on his lap instead of the couch or a chair). “Jimin-ah, thank you.” Namjoon was leaning forwards, face earnest. “I can’t imagine how. . . difficult that must have been for you. Thank you so much for trusting all of us to hear you sing. Like Tae said, it was brave thing to do. Your voice is beautiful, I feel so honored to have had you sing my song.”

            “You have such a sweet sounding pure tenor voice, I would even say you might be a countertenor. I’m seriously impressed.” Yoongi said quietly, smiling at Jimin fondly. “You don’t hear a voice like that very often, if ever.” Jimin covered his face with his hands, his ears bright pink as he fell sideways into Taehyung’s chest. The younger boy grunted and steadied him, running a hand over his spine gently.

            “Jimin-ah, can we keep the recording?” Namjoon asked hesitantly. “I won’t use it if you don’t want me to, if you say no it’s okay!” The older boys waited with bated breath while Jimin seemed to think about it, his hands falling back into his lap and twisting his rings around his fingers. His eyes closed for a moment before he glanced to Taehyung, eyes wide.

            Taehyung blinked in surprise, running a hand through his hair before giving the older boy a small smile. “That’s up to you babe. I’ll support you either way.” That seemed to decide the older boy and he turned to Namjoon with a shy smile, nodding his head lightly.

            “Thank you, seriously thank you!” Namjoon turned eagerly to the controls, Yoongi bringing up the sound file. Taehyung’s eyes fell closed as Jimin’s voice filtered down around them, honied and clean sounding against the music, wrapping around him and relaxing his body. The sound of his high falsetto had Taehyung’s skin breaking out in goosebumps, a sigh leaving his lips as he slumped against the couch, his head tilting to rest on the top of the cushion. A hand gently ran through his hair, pushing his bangs off his forehead and scratching the crown the way he liked, a smile turned the corners of his mouth as a plush pair of lips pressed a kiss to his exposed brow. At the bridge, Taehyung could feel his eyes burning behind his closed eyelids, his breath hitching, though this time he was able to squash the emotions before they reared their ugly heads.

            “I don’t even think you need another take.” Yoongi’s voice shattered the calm as the song trailed out. Namjoon made some comment that Taehyung didn’t hear as he slowly lifted his head up.

            Taehyung’s eyes finally opened again to see Jimin staring at him. The ebony haired boy’s face was open and vulnerable, his eyes wider than normal and looking suspiciously damp. But his gaze was different, Taehyung felt as if Jimin was peeling his layers back one by one, too rapidly for the younger boy to stop him. He was looking at him wonderingly, his gaze intense enough that Taehyung wanted to squirm out from under it, hid his face and throw up walls. Jimin was searching, processing, scouring him for anything and everything and Taehyung suddenly felt breathless, his heart racing and his breathing shaky. Jimin was stripping him apart with one look, and it was too much, yet not enough at the same time. Taehyung was spinning, the room moving too quickly yet in slow motion, the only thing centering him, saving him from the dizziness, were dark brown eyes locking him in place.

            And then Jimin was smiling and oxygen was rushing back into his lungs. The smile was tender and soft, slowly growing until all Taehyung could see was soft cheeks, white teeth, and plush lips. All he could feel was a soft hand pressing against his heart, the small imprint cool and soothing over the fire burning deep in his chest. And Jimin was moving closer and closer, and Taehyung was overwhelmed, fear and excitement and love rushing through him and making him quake underneath Jimin’s steady fingers. His heart was screaming, yearning for Jimin as the older boy pressed their foreheads together and he knew without a doubt that those roiling emotions inside of him were pouring out of his eyes in a tidal wave, the flimsy vault left desolate and broken down below. The words were there on the tip of his tongue, saccharine sweet yet bitter for release, but before he could speak Jimin was kissing him.

            And Taehyung felt relief, Jimin’s mouth opening beneath his and unintentionally swallowing the words Taehyung had been so close to uttering, the dance of their tongues soothing the ache the brunet was feeling. Jimin’s soft lips quelled the storm, righting Taehyung again, bringing him back to this plane of existence and keeping him from flying away again. Taehyung kissed him back as a thank you, as a ‘wait for me’, as an unspoken ‘I adore you’. And Jimin’s kisses felt like a response, a you’re welcome, a ‘I’m not going anywhere’, an unsaid ‘I cherish you’. Taehyung felt overwhelmed again, but it was easier this time, it was more level and he could breathe through it, around it.

            When Jimin finally leaned back, his smile held a secret, maybe Taehyung’s secret, and the brunet finally managed to swallow the emotions down. He smiled at Jimin, a softer shade of his boxy grin, reaching up to run his thumb gently along Jimin’s lower lip. “Pretty Jiminie.” He whispered softly, relishing the soft blush his words got. “Pretty lips, pretty voice, pretty eyes. My pretty boy.” Jimin just shook his head and covered his eyes for a moment, though Taehyung could see the pleased smile on his lips. “Hey, Jimin-ah?” The boy peeked at him from between his fingers, softening at the sight of Taehyung’s warm smile. “Let’s keep going for a long time, okay?” Jimin just smiled and answered him with a kiss.

            “I think we’re done here!” Namjoon sounded excited, his eyes sparkling as he turned to look at Taehyung and Jimin. “It’s nearly perfect now. Thank you Jimin! I owe you one.” He gushed.

            “I’ll just fix the audio up a bit tonight but yeah, it’s pretty much done. Want me to send you guys a copy?” Yoongi asked, eyes on his computer screen as he typed. Taehyung looked to Jimin for permission, expecting him to need to think about it for a moment, but to his surprise Jimin nodded immediately, a blinding smile on his face.

            “Yeah, we’d both like a copy.” Taehyung grinned at Yoongi.

            “Okay. I’ll send it tonight after the edits are finished.”

            “Thanks, hyung!”

            They ended up staying at the studio for a while longer, Seokjin showing up with Jungkook in tow, bringing take out and drinks for everyone to share. Taehyung was happy there, surrounded by his friends with Jimin pressed up against his side, eating food and laughing for hours. Jimin kept feeding him bites of random foods, look thrilled every time Taehyung allowed it, a sweet smile on his face as he’d reward the brunet with a kiss to his cheek. Hoseok’s absence was felt, even more so when the redhead didn’t reply to Taehyung’s texts to join them, and despite the happy atmosphere the brunet was feeling a bit melancholy.

            Yoongi leaned in to whisper to Jimin before sitting back expectantly, as if waiting for an answer. Jimin took another bite of food, chewing slowly before he nodded, a closed lip smile on his face as Yoongi grinned and pushed his rolling chair back to his computer. “Hey guys.” The conversations died down, all eyes on Yoongi expectantly. “We have a little treat for you, courtesy of our resident mochi.” Jimin’s cheeks heated as he threw a napkin at the older blonde, a pout on his lips when Taehyung hid a laugh behind his hand. “So, shut up and listen.” Without further ado, Yoongi hit play and Jimin’s high tenor rang through the air.

            Taehyung couldn’t help but pull Jimin closer to him, resting his cheek on the top of the older boy’s head as he watched their friends’ reactions. Namjoon and Yoongi looked delighted, just as they had earlier, clearly even more happy at the sound of the finished track (even Taehyung had to admit it had a more polished feel to it now). Seokjin’s eyes had fallen closed as he leaned back in his seat, his arms crossed loosely over his broad chest as he focused. Jungkook was leaning forward, his mouth and chin cupped in his hands, his elbows on his knees; he was staring resolutely at the ground, his eyes wide and wondering. When the song ended, Taehyung immediately mourned the loss, sighing softly to himself.

            Seokjin’s eyes opened and he looked dazed. “That was beautiful, Jimin-ah. You’re very talented, and that means a lot coming from me.” He smiled fondly at the younger boy, Jimin seeming to both shrink and preen at the praise.

            “Kookie?” Namjoon asked quietly, leaning forward to place a hand gently on the youngest boy’s shoulder. Taehyung immediately looked over at the concerned tone, eyes widening at the sight of Jungkook crying softly, hands moving to cover his face as he shook his head. Jimin left Taehyung’s side in an instant, moving to crouch in front of Jungkook, his small hands tugging Jungkook’s hands from his face, tears of empathy already filling his eyes. Jungkook took one look at Jimin before his lip trembled and he made a wounded sound, Jimin quickly moving forward to wrap the young boy in his arms.

            Jungkook was a sensitive boy, Taehyung knew, under all that talk and bravado. He was sweet by nature, kind and caring though he showed his affection through jokes and pranks. But underneath it all, he was empathetic and soft hearted, and Taehyung thought he was too good for this world. Jimin was holding him, stroking his hair until his cries finally stopped, sniffling as he pulled back, his eyes saying more than he could voice. Jimin smiled warmly at him and took the tissue Yoongi handed him, dabbing beneath Jungkook’s eyes in a brotherly way. Jungkook finally answer Jimin’s smile with a small one of his own, nodding his head and that’s all they needed. Jimin stood, pressing a kiss to the crown of Jungkook’s head before sitting back down on the couch, his eyes bright and damp as he nudged Taehyung.

            They were all getting ready to leave, Jimin fussing with Jungkook’s scarf as the younger boy complained, Taehyung watching the scene with amusement when Yoongi pressed a CD case into his hand secretly. Taehyung’s fingers latched around it, covertly sliding it into his jacket’s inside pocket before shooting Yoongi a grateful look, the elder just smirking slightly and shaking his head before hustling them all out of his studio and locking up.

            “Oh my gosh, it’s snowing!” Jungkook cried with glee as they left the warm building, the bitter cold of late November pinking Taehyung’s cheeks. Jimin sidled closer to him, and Taehyung wrapped his arm around his shoulders, pulling the older boy into his warmth as Jungkook took off into the street.

            “Kook, get out of the street! There’s cars!” Seokjin fretted, hurrying forward to retrieve the younger boy even as he grimaced at the falling snow. Jungkook ignored his call, doing pirouettes in the street and his rich laughter bounce off the building walls. “Why is it snowing? It’s not even winter yet. I hate this.” Seokjin grumbled, looking not unlike a mother hen trying to wrangle her youngest child. Namjoon just chuckled and pulled a beanie on over his ears, waving to the others as he followed them into the night.

            “Want a ride?” Yoongi asked Taehyung, shivering already in his jacket.

            “Nah, I’m just a few blocks away. I’ll walk it.” Taehyung turned to Jimin, pressing a kiss to his already cold cheek. “Go with Yoongi-hyung, okay? Get home and warm up.” Jimin pouted up at him, lacing their fingers together. Taehyung just laughed and pulled him into a hug. “I’ll be fine. I’ll text you when I get home, I just have to make a stop first. Goodnight Jiminie.” He ducked down to press a soft kiss to Jimin’s surprised lips before turning and pulling an alarmed Yoongi into his arms, hugging him tight. “Thanks, hyung, please get yourself and Jimin home safe, okay? I’ll see you later.” Blowing a kiss to a confused Jimin, Taehyung hurried determinedly down the sidewalk towards the subway station, the opposite direction from his house.

            It was a good half hour before the subway reached his stop, and Taehyung spent that time staring out the window and watching the snow fall. It was slowly blanketing the world, coating streetlights and immobile cars in a dusting that was steadily growing. It gave everything a bluish sheen, making the world look a little more fantastical than normal. He loved it, loved the cold bite in the air, the clean smell of the frozen rain, the way it looked as it fell. It made him feel. . . alive. He got off at his stop, chafing his hands together to create some warmth and inwardly cursing his decision not to bring gloves with him that morning as he shivered lightly, teeth chattering as he burrowed deeper into his jacket collar.

            The ten minute walk was brisk, Taehyung lengthening his stride as an apartment complex came into view around the corner, the three levels looking cozy and warm with its brick and stucco walls. Taehyung sped up, nearly jogging now as he hurried under the awning of the first floor, shivering in earnest as he made his way to the stairs. He climbed to the third level, taking the stairs two at a time before reaching the third door on the left, knocking loudly despite the later hour. He shifted impatiently, skin cold and covered in goosebumps as he waited with growing frustration. He knocked again after a few moments, louder this time.

            The door finally opened, Hoseok standing in the doorway with an apprehensive then shocked look on his face. Taehyung smiled cheekily at him. “Hi hyung. It’s snowing, by the way.”

            “Taehyung-ah! Oh my god, get in here! You’ll catch a cold!” Hoseok reached out and dragged the younger boy into the warm apartment, shutting the door quickly and immediately beginning to fuss over him. “What are you doing here? Your skin is like ice! Come on, get that jacket off and I’ll get you some hot tea or a blanket. What were you thinking, coming here like this in this weather?” Hoseok scolded and Taehyung just grinned, removing his coat and handing it to the older boy, rubbing his chilled hands together and trying not to think about his icy earlobes.

            “What, your favorite dongsaeng can’t drop by randomly to visit?” Taehyung asked playfully as he followed Hoseok into the kitchen, watching as he started to fill the tea kettle. Hoseok paused, glancing back at him.

            “Jimin-ah is here?”

            “Oh, screw you and all the Hyungs. Kookie too.” Taehyung whined petulantly, taking a seat at the kitchen island and flinging himself pathetically onto the countertop. “This family blows.”

            Hoseok laughed brightly, his heart shaped smile on display as he set the kettle to boil, walking over to lean on the countertop across from Taehyung and ruffle his hair. “Oh, you know I’m just playing. Every one of my Dongsaengs are my favorite.” Taehyung grumbled and fixed his hair. “Besides, is it such a bad thing that everyone is so enamored with Jimin-ah?” He teased, flicking Taehyung on the forehead.

            “Well no, but loyalty! Doesn’t it mean anything to anyone anymore? Taehyung lamented, wincing when the statement came out heavier than he meant it. Hoseok seemed to notice, raising an eyebrow before moving to the now shrieking kettle and fixing them both a cup. Taehyung murmured his thanks and he took the cup, enjoying the warmth against his hands as he carefully sipped. They were silent for a few moments before Hoseok spoke.

            “What are you doing here Taehyung-ah?” His voice was calm, curious as he sipped his own drink. “You’ve never shown up unexpected like this.”

            “I have!”

            “No, you haven’t. What brings you here?”

            “I was in the neighborhood.”

            “Taehyung.”

            “Okay, I was actually on the other side of town. I took the subway here.”

            “That sounds more likely.” Hoseok smiled behind his tea cup. Taehyung was about to speak when he noticed the older boy fully for the first time. Hoseok looked tired, a bit of makeup smudged under his eyes. He was wearing clubbing clothes, his jeans tight and strategically ripped, the neck of his shirt wide enough to expose his collarbone. His faded red hair was mussed, as if he’d been running his hands through it for hours, and when he turned to grab a napkin, Taehyung swore he saw a hickey on the back of his neck. “Is everything okay Tae? It’s a bit late to be wandering around in that storm.” Hoseok asked as he turned back to the brunet, smile faltering at the sight of Taehyung’s now blank face. “Taehyung?”

            “I was at Genius lab, recording a song with Yoongi-hyung and Namjoon-hyung’s help. Jiminie also came in. He sang a song Namjoon-hyung’s been struggling with, and it was beautiful. Then Seokjin-hyung and Jungkookie showed up with dinner. Lots of jokes and laughs, Jimin even let the others hear the recording. It was fun.” His voice was expressionless as he rattled all this off, watching Hoseok’s face shift through multiple emotions; understanding, shock, joy, disappointment, and envy, before straightening out into a smile that lacked the sun.

            “It sounds like fun. You must have had a good time.”

            “I did.”

            “I’m glad, Taehyung-ah.” Hoseok replied quietly, setting his teacup down and running a hand through his hair tiredly. “I’m happy that you’re happy.”

            Taehyung set his cup down with a sharp clink that had Hoseok jumping in shock. “Stop it.”

            “Stop what?”

            “You know what! That. That thing you’re doing, the whole ‘I’m fine Tae, everything’s great, happy, happy, happy’ bullshit you’re trying to pull.” Taehyung was frowning, eyes narrowed on the shocked redhead in front of him. “Why are you doing this to us?”

            Hoseok stood up straight, hands gripping the countertop. “What are you talking about Taehyung? You aren’t making any sense.”

            Taehyung stood up from his chair, tea forgotten as he leveled a glare at Hoseok. “Why are you pulling away from us so much? I get it, you don’t want to hang out around Hyung because god knows what happened, but what did the rest of us do? Why are you leaving us too?”

            “Taehyung, you’re being overly dramatic. I missed a few Saturdays and tonight, so what? Things happen, that’s life!”

            “You always have time for us! Why don’t you now, suddenly? You’re hurting our feelings! You’re hurting my feelings!”

            “Taehyung-ah, I’m not trying to pull away from or hurt anyone! I’m just busy!”

            “You never used to lie to me.” Taehyung replied quietly, shaking his head in disappointment, anger and hurt curling in his stomach and making him feel sick. “Stop lying.”

            Hoseok looked angry now, crossing his arms tight over his chest. The movement tugged his shirt down a little more and Taehyung caught a look at what he was sure was another love bite. “I’ve just been busy Taehyung; college classes are no joke. Plus, dance and work. I don’t have much free time on my hands.”

            “Make time.” Taehyung nearly pleaded, face blanking again as he was hit with a wave of emotion. “Make time for your friends, because we love you! And we miss you.” Hoseok opened his mouth to reply when there was a sound from down the hall. Taehyung turned to look, not missing the panicked look that crossed Hoseok’s face as a tall man came walking into the kitchen, clad in nothing but a pair of boxers. He froze for a moment before smiling politely at Taehyung before walking to the fridge, brushing his hand across Hoseok’s hip as he passed him.

            “Sorry hyung, I didn’t know you had someone over. I’m just grabbing a water and I’ll get out of your hair.” The guys voice was deep, and his tone was friendly—Taehyung hated it instantly. When he retrieved a bottle of water from the fridge, he turned and stopped by Hoseok, pressing a kiss to the red head’s temple before smiling at Taehyung and holding a hand out to the brunet. “I’m Jaehyun, nice to meet you.”

            Taehyung gave his most sarcastic smile, his bratty side taking over as he lifted a hand to wave slightly before crossing his arms. “Charmed.” Jaehyun frowned uneasily, his hand retracting as he glanced to Hoseok, who was staring at Taehyung with a hard look in his eyes.

            “I’ll just. . . leave you two alone.” He pressed another quick kiss to Hoseok’s forehead and disappeared down the hall, the door closing with a soft click.

            Taehyung and Hoseok stared one another down, and Taehyung’s fake smile dropped. “Busy, huh? Not too busy to go clubbing alone and hook up with guys. Got it. Message received, loud and clear.” Taehyung whirled around and stalked towards the door, Hoseok making a surprised sound behind him. He had just dragged his jacket on roughly when a hand snagged his wrist and jerked him back around, Hoseok glaring at him.

            “You can’t just make some wild accusations, throw a hissy fit, and leave before hearing what I have to say in return Taehyung!”

            “What do you even have to say?” Taehyung asked, pulling his hand from Hoseok’s grasp with a hard frown. “You pretty much said it all without saying anything!”

            “Taehyung, you’re not being fair! Did Yoongi get this third degree from you? Or am I the only one getting lectured?” Hoseok asked, voice harsh, stunning the younger boy into silence. Hoseok took that as his answer and he sighed angrily, throwing his hands in the air. “I’m hurting too, you know! He’s not the only one who lost something!”

            “I know, but—”

            “But what Tae? But he’s moping around all sad, whereas I’m trying to move on with my life? I spent years upon years of my life waiting on Yoongi, and I’m tired of it! I deserve better! I deserve to be loved back just as much as I love someone.”

            “I’m not disagreeing with you there, you do—”

            “You can’t understand this, you and Jimin clicked together like puzzle pieces, you wouldn’t understand what an uphill marathon this has been for me, what a constant fight I’ve had to live through by loving Yoongi!” Hoseok raised his voice as Taehyung opened his mouth to interrupt him. “So, I’m figuring me out, Taehyung! I’m trying to figure out who I am as Jung Hoseok, not ‘Hoseok-and-Yoongi’ or ‘Sope’ or whatever other stupid nickname you guys have given us over the years. And I need time to do that! Are you so childish that you can’t understand that without me yelling it at you?”

            Taehyung jerked back as if he’d been slapped. “I’m not childish!”

            “You sure as hell are acting like it!”

            “You’re the one running away instead of fighting for your happiness! You’re just letting it go, and because of what? Some dumb fight? Why are you letting that win, you’ve never been scared to work for what you want! If you love him—”

            “I don’t want to love Yoongi anymore!” Hoseok’s voice had risen to a near shout, startling Taehyung into shocked silence. Taehyung reached for him and the red head yanked at his hair before his hands came out to shove Taehyung, the brunet stumbling back a few steps. “Stop! Stop it Taehyung, it’s over with! Just leave it alone! Just give me some damn room to breathe!”

            “Hyung—”

            “Just get out! Go home, go to Jimin’s, go somewhere else and bother them! Call me when you grow the hell up and stop thinking love is a candy coated answer to everything.” Hoseok’s chest was heaving as he glared at Taehyung. The looked shifted from anger to shock and Taehyung stared back, eyes blurry with tears. A hot and heavy feeling sat in the middle of his chest, slimy and choking as Taehyung turned on his heel and threw the door open. He paused, glancing back angrily.

            “Fine. I’m going. But just so you know, Jung Hoseok without Min Yoongi is an asshole, and I really don’t like him all that much. He’s a shitty friend.” On that note Taehyung slammed the door shut behind him, the boom echoing enough to rattle the windows of the unit. He took the stairs down two at a time as the door behind him was thrown open, Hoseok’s voice desperately calling his name and begging him to come back, but Taehyung ignored him. He reached the parking lot soon and took off towards the subway, anger and hurt masking him from the cold.

            He made it home before long, not sparing his family a look before he stomped upstairs to his room, slamming the door shut. He shucked off his coat, balling it up and throwing it hard into the corner of his room. A cracking sound had him stumbling forward and searching the pockets, pulling out the CD case from inside his jacket, cursing at the cracks along the front. He gingerly removed the CD, breathing out a sigh of relief when it was unharmed. Taehyung ran a hand through his snow dampened hair before slowly standing and moving over towards his dresser to pull a CD off the shelf above it. He pulled a random case down, discarding the disk inside haphazardly and gently pressing his inside for safekeeping, setting it on his desk. With a rough sigh, he yanked his sweater off and tossed it on the ground, grabbing a pair of sweatpants and going to take a long, hot shower.

            It was a half hour before Taehyung finally reentered his room, eyes still stormy as he flopped out on his bed like a starfish, glaring up at the ceiling as if it had offended him. He felt off, anger an unusual emotion for him to battle with as he was normally so good spirited; it burned through him, making his limbs ache and his veins feel as if they were collapsing into ash. There was a harsh, bitter zing to the emotion that tasted like hurt, a heavy stone in his stomach that felt like guilt. Taehyung hated it, hated feeling this way, the assault of emotions making him want to tear his own skin off or burst into tears. He sat up, suddenly, grabbing the pants on his floor to pull out his cell phone, ignoring all his notifications in favor of checking his email.

            He nearly sighed with relief at the audio files Yoongi had emailed him, ignoring his own recording in favor of downloading ‘Promise’, snagging his earbuds and popping them in as he hit play. His eyes fell closed as the music and Jimin’s voice washed over him, focusing solely on the words and sounds. It was six runs through before his shoulders untensed, ten before he was melting into his bedspread, and twelve before he was falling asleep to Jimin’s gentle crooning in his ears.

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

            Taehyung was in a bad mood when he woke up the next morning. He was late waking up since he never set his alarm, his phone was dead since he hadn’t plugged it in last night, and his wallet had disappeared sometime between him fleeing Hoseok’s apartment and falling asleep in bed. His only blazer clean was the one with the tear in the hem, he couldn’t find one of his Gucci earrings, and he dropped the milk carton when he went to drink out of it, spilling the entirety of it on the floor. After quickly cleaning it up after his Eomma’s threats to shave his head in his sleep and a quick promise to buy a new one after school, Taehyung hurried to catch the subway to school (because of course he’d forgotten that Yoongi wasn’t able to drive him this morning and his only other ride he’d just shouted at last night).

            By the time he reached the school, socks and pant legs damp from the slush and chilled to the bone, he was in a foul mood. His eyes were stormy as he brushed past people in the hall, forgoing the irritation of the cafeteria in favor of taking the stairs up to his classroom. He barely glanced up as he walked through his classroom door, throwing himself down in his seat and resting his forehead on his arms, closing his eyes and waiting impatiently for Jimin to get there. Everything would feel better once Jimin was there.

            It was a few minutes before Taehyung heard the sounds of soft steps making their way to his aisle, and the person paused for a split second before the steps were more hurried until they reached his desk. A familiar hand resting on his head had him sighing softly in relief, the knots in his chest and stomach already loosening as he lifted his head with a small smile. “Jimin-ah, boy am I glad to see you— Jimin?”

            Jimin looked frantic, his tired, red rimmed eyes wild as he cupped Taehyung’s face, searching it as if he was looking for something. His hair wasn’t tidy like normal, the strands mussed like he’d been running his fingers through it all morning; his face was ashen with exhaustion and the bags under his eyes dark and heavy. Taehyung’s heart was pounding as he gently touched Jimin’s wrists, brow furrowing with concern. “Jimin-ah, are you okay? What’s wrong?” Jimin looked him over a bit more before he seemed to slump with relief, eyes falling shut as he sighed. “Jiminie?” The sharp slap to his cheekbone had Taehyung’s head turning and eyes widening, his hand coming up to touch his cheek in surprise as he slowly turned back to stare into suddenly furious eyes. Jimin’s cheeks were red with anger as he stood up straight, steam nearly coming out of his ears as he glared down at the stunned brunet. The room had gone silent and Taehyung could feel all eyes on them. “What—”

            Jimin’s hand shot out and grabbed Taehyung’s tie, hauling the other boy out of his seat much to everyone in the rooms shock. Taehyung choked a little, having no choice but to follow the older boy as he was dragged by his neck out the classroom door, stumbling a little bit at Jimin’s fast pace from the pure shock of it. Jimin pushed the door open to the boy’s bathroom, pulling Taehyung in and sending a scathing glare to the boy washing his hands at the sink. The boy made a soft sound of fear, grabbing a paper towel as he skirted around Jimin and Taehyung, hurrying through the door. Jimin released Taehyung’s tie and the brunet spluttered, loosening the noose with a soft gasp as Jimin moved to the closed door, flipping the lock before turning on his heel and stalking up to the taller boy and shoving him hard.

            Taehyung stumbled back, catching himself on a sink just as Jimin shoved at him again. “What the fuck? What’s wrong?” Taehyung finally managed to say, catching Jimin’s tiny fists as he swung at him, struggling to hold the smaller boy still. “Why are you trying to beat me up?” Jimin ripped his hands from Taehyung’s grasp, his chest heaving, and he made an angry sound under his breath. He stepped forward and Taehyung’s back was pressed against the sink, Jimin giving him a mean look before shoving a hand in Taehyung’s front pocket, ignoring Taehyung’s jump as he dug for something. After a moment he withdrew, holding Taehyung’s phone in his hand as he angrily pressed the power button. His expression wavered as he tried it again, only to see a black screen again.

            “It’s dead.” Taehyung said softly, realization hitting him when Jimin looked up at him with a mixture of anger and hurt. “It’s dead and I never texted you when I got home, and I promised to.” He covered his face with his hands and groaned loudly. When he looked back up, Jimin was looking off to the side, his jaw set and his lips pressed in a hard line. Taehyung’s heart lurched at the closed expression on his face and he bit his lip. “Shit. Oh, Jimin-ah, I’m so sorry!” He took a step forward and Jimin took a step back, crossing his arms tight. Taehyung didn’t give up, taking another quick step forward to throw his arms around Jimin’s neck and shoulders, reeling the struggling boy in and hugging him tight. “I’m sorry, I got home really late and was so pissed off I tried to drown myself in the shower. I fell asleep without even setting an alarm or charging my phone. I swear I didn’t mean to hurt you or make you worry Jiminie, I just got lost in this stupid head of mine.”

            Jimin finally stopped struggling, his arms falling to his sides and his hands clenching into small fists. Taehyung held him tighter, burying his face in soft ebony hair and pressing a kiss there. “I’m really sorry. I’m an asshole.” His voice wavered on the last part, and Jimin heaved a soft sigh before his arms finally wrapped around Taehyung’s waist and he leaned heavily into him. They stood like that for a few moments before Jimin started tracing questions marks on the small of Taehyung’s back, and Taehyung nodded with a sigh.

            “I left you with Yoongi and went to Hoseok’s. I just planned on talking to him, telling him he should start hanging out with all of us again and it escalated. I got mad, he got mad, there was some guy there half naked and Hoseok was, uh, clearly loved up.” Jimin gasped and pulled back enough to look up at Taehyung with wide eyes. Taehyung nodded fervently. “I know right? And yeah, he seemed nice and was handsome and all that—” Jimin gave him a dark look and Taehyung truly smiled for the first time that day. “—not like you, come on—and I may have been a passive aggressive bitch to him? Possibly. Well, Hoseok hated that and we fought, it ended up with him calling me a child and I told him I didn’t like him without Yoongi-hyung.” Jimin’s jaw had dropped. “Yeah, I know, go me. Great way to get him to hang out with us again, right? Well, I screwed the pooch on that one and went home mad, hopped in the shower and went to bed listening to ‘Promise’ until I fell asleep because your voice calms me down—” Jimin’s eyes seemed to warm, the tiniest smile curling his lips. “—Then this morning was a royal pain in my ass, nothing’s going right, and all I wanted was to see you because you make everything better. And I’ve gone and fucked that up too, because I’m an asshole!” Taehyung threw his hands up in the air before tiredly running his hands over his face. “And now I’ve upset and worried you to the point you clearly didn’t sleep, and you slapped me in front of everyone—” Jimin had the decency to flush, eyes guilty, “—and now we’re having our first fight! Which is probably making us late and getting you your first detention ever, and honestly? Fuck this day.” Taehyung finally seemed to run out of steam. “I give up. Everything I touch goes to shit lately, I should have just minded my own business and gone straight home. I could have spent the night playing Overwatch with Jungkook and texting you, but no, I just had to try and meddle. I’m so stupid, I seriously can’t—”

            Jimin had had enough, grabbing Taehyung by his blazer and yanking him down to kiss him hard and shut him up, the brunet whining beneath his lips at the sudden assault. Jimin licked into his mouth, his hands sliding up to tangle in dark hair, fingers caressing along his scalp and down the nape of his neck to relax the tension there. Taehyung swore Jimin’s lips were pure magic because after only a few minutes of sweet, sweet kisses he felt as if he was going to melt into a puddle. Jimin pulled back after nibbling on his bottom lip to smile at the panting brunet, running a thumb over Taehyung’s cheekbone softly. His eye wandered to Taehyung’s left cheek and he winced, his hand moving to gently stroke the skin apologetically, his dark eyes sad behind their frames.

            Taehyung smiled slightly, shaking his head and bringing a hand up to keep the small hand against his cheek. “It’s okay, I kind of had that coming.” Jimin frowned at him before leaning up to press a soft kiss to the handprint, biting his lip as he pulled his phone out, typing on it. “Uh, Jimin? My phone’s dead, remember?” Jimin paid him no mind, typing for a bit before turning the phone for Taehyung to see.

Park Jimin

(DRAFT) [I have a lot to say, so bear with me. First, you scared the hell out of me. You left me there with Yoongi-hyung when it was already dark and starting to blizzard, telling me you had to ‘do something’ with no detail before disappearing. So, I get home, wait HOURS for you to text me, worrying that you slipped and cracked that pretty head open, or got kidnapped by subway cretins. I couldn’t sleep because I was staring at my phone all night scared half to death.]

            Taehyung looked up with a wince, rubbing the back of his neck. “I’m sorry. I really am.” Jimin made an impatient noise and motioned him to continue.

[I’m sorry I overreacted, I shouldn’t have slapped you (what a bitch move) OR shoved you OR tried to strangle you with your tie. I just care about you a lot and after the relief of knowing you were safe and physically fine, I just felt really frustrated with you and it made me act a little crazy. I’m sorry, Taehyungie. Can you forgive me?]

            Taehyung sighed softly, his cheeks pinking as he looked up with a bright boxy smile. “Of course I forgive you Jiminie, but do you forgive me for being the lamest boyfriend of the year?” Jimin smiled back, nodding his head and letting out the softest of laughs before taking the phone back to type some more.

[Of course I do, stupid. You’re too cute to stay mad at. I’m really sorry the hours since I last saw you were so shitty; I wish I could have helped. And listen Taetae, I’m sorry about what happened with Hoseok. I know you were only trying to make things better, he does too. Emotions were running high, but you guys will get through this, okay? You’re only human Taehyung, and we all lash out sometimes. But the people who truly care about us will forgive us if we deserve it. And you do deserve it, so does Hoseok. Just give yourself time to cool down and try talking to him again, okay? I’ll help you, if you need me?]

            Taehyung made the executive decision and hit send on the texts, smiling softly knowing they’d be waiting for him to reread when his phone had charged. “Thanks, Jiminie. And I always need you.” Jimin’s shy smile was pleased, he ducked his head and leaned into Taehyung’s chest again, resting his forehead against Taehyung’s neck as his hands came up to rest on his chest. Taehyung felt the tension leave his body completely as a sense of calm washed over him, his arms winding around Jimin’s waist to hold him close, nothing but citrus cologne and ebony hair on his mind.

            He felt better now, almost himself again as the day continued on. Jimin was careful with him, not in a spun glass way, but in a ‘you’re precious to me’ way. Gentle touches to his shoulders or back in class; small kisses pressed against his cheek or forehead in between classes and at lunch; bright smiles and warm eyes anytime Taehyung met his gaze. And the brunet appreciated the care, feeling more and more comforted the longer he was with Jimin, the longer Jimin was touching him. He knew Jungkook noticed his withdrawn behavior during lunch, how quiet he was when the younger boy made a joke that would normal have him rolling on the ground but only garnered a small smile now. Jimin must have told him not to bring it up, because the younger boy just continued like normal, making jokes and teasing Jimin; though he made sure to touch Taehyung more, an arm around the shoulders or a playful punch, a hand on the arm to accentuate a point. It was his way of saying, ‘I’m here for you’, and for that Taehyung was thankful. Knowing that he could have both the space to breathe or think but still have his friends meant the world to him.

            He was worried when he and Jimin split up for his last class, scared the sun would disappear the moment Jimin disappeared. But the ebony haired boy seemed to realize his trepidation when the brunet silently walked him to his classroom; at the door Jimin stopped and turned to him with a soft smile and held a small finger up. He looked at his hands and tugged the ring off his index finger of his left hand, the band silver and braided in a pleasing pattern, the band a little thicker than Jimin typically wore. With a bright smile he took Taehyung’s hand, sliding the ring on the brunet’s middle finger to account for the difference in the girth of their fingers. Taehyung’s mouth had fallen open as the band was slid on, and Jimin’s smile turned shy, running a hand through his hair nervously. He reached the hand out and gently touched above Taehyung’s heart and motioned to the ring before smiling and Taehyung’s heart absolutely melted. A smile curled his lips up and he fingered the band before stepping forward to cup the back of Jimin’s head and push back his bangs, pressing a soft kiss to the older boy’s forehead.

            “Thank you, Jimin-ah. I won’t be so lonely now.” Foolishly, Taehyung wished he had something to give in exchange but before he could do anything to return the favor Jimin was kissing him softly, keeping the contact chaste. Taehyung’s eyes fluttered shut, leaning into the kiss with a sigh, his hand running through Jimin’s hair gently before he was pulling away with a smile. “See you soon?” Jimin nodded, cheeks pink; Taehyung turned to go, startling when he was slapped on the ass playfully, whipping around in shock to see Jimin giggling behind his hand and waving. He couldn’t help the genuine laugh that bubbled up in his throat as he waved back and headed to his art class, the smile on his face no longer feeling strained.

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

            “Man, are you even paying attention? If you’re going to insist on playing Mercy then heal me bitch!” Jungkook whined from where he was seated against the wall on Taehyung’s bed, eyes locked on his screen as he died yet again. “Damn it hyung, you suck today!”

            “Sorry, sorry.” Taehyung replied, sitting up straight in his desk chair, eyes moving from his phone screen back to his laptop guiltily. “Sorry, I’m paying attention, I swear.”

            “No, you’re reading a text I’m positive Jimin-hyung just sent you.” Jungkook shut his computer, not bothering to close Overwatch as he shot Taehyung a look. “You suck.”

            “You said that already.”

            “I meant it.”

            “I know. Sorry.” Taehyung grinned at him, eyes straying back to his phone, his lock screen lit up with another text. “I can’t help it, he’s so cute.”

            “You’re obsessed.”

            “I am the President of the Park Jimin fan club.”

            Jungkook laughed at that. “I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a fan club for hyung. You should hear the girls in my class talk about him, everyone’s so thirsty.” Jungkook’s nose crinkled in disgust, smirking a bit when Taehyung whirled around in his chair to face the brunet with surprise.

            “Wait, really?”

            “Oh yeah. Especially when he first moved here. The girls and out guys at school were all over him, crush-wise.” Jungkook stood and started stretching his hamstrings, voice muffled as he continued. “But once you and hyung started openly dating, most lost interest. You guys actually became a hot topic for a while.”

            “What do you mean?”

            “People were into it.” Jungkook laughed against his knees. “Something about having two of the hottest guys in school hooking up. But then people realized how sappy and domestic you two act and now you’ve got fangirls. Congrats.”

            “That’s so weird.” Taehyung nearly giggled, shaking his head and twisting the ring situated on his middle finger; Jungkook followed the motion and rolled his eyes fondly. Jungkook opened his mouth to speak when there was a soft knock on his door.

            “Oppa, you have a guest! And Jeonggyu won’t let him go, he’s stuck like a leech.” Eonjin’s voice called through the door, and Taehyung rolled his eyes at her false sweet tone. She was always on her best behavior when his friends were around (especially Jungkook, who she had the cutest crush on).

            “Thanks, Eonjin, you can let him in.” Taehyung called back, scrolling through his texts and replying to Jimin with a bright smile. The door opened and Eonjin smiled shyly at Jungkook before fleeing down the hallway, making the dancer laugh softly to himself. The guest was clearly walking down the hall with some difficulty, one step much heavier than the other in an uneven pattern. Taehyung glanced up curiously just in time to see Hoseok stand in the entryway, Jeonggyu wrapped around one of his legs and hanging on for dear life. Hoseok’s face was carefully blank until he looked down at Jeonggyu, a smile warming his features.

            “Hey Jeonggyu-yah, I need to talk to your brother, okay?” He leaned down and started tickling the little boys’ sides, chuckling as the kid giggled with glee. “We’ll play later, okay?” He glanced up, making eye contact briefly with Taehyung before looking to Jungkook. Sensing the rising tension, Jungkook immediately strode over and snagged Jeonggyu, lifting him up and tossing him over his shoulder.

            “Come on little guy, let’s go bug your sister, yeah?” Jungkook grinned at Taehyung’s slightly panicked expression before fleeing the room, Jeonggyu’s giggles fading down the hallway. Taehyung and Hoseok were left alone and the older boy hesitated in the doorway.

            “May I. . .?”

            “Yeah.” Taehyung cleared his throat as the older boy took a few steps in and shut the bedroom door, walking over and taking a timid seat on the bed. Taehyung swallowed hard as he met the older boy’s gaze, taking in his tired eyes and newly dyed obsidian locks. They were silent for a long few moments before Hoseok sigh and rubbed a hand over his forehead.

            “What you said to me the other night was way out of line.” He started. “It wasn’t fair of you to hold me to a higher standard than the other people in your life, and it’s not your place to tell me what to do in my life.” Taehyung ducked his head, fidgeting with the ring as he stared at his feet. “That being said, I was nasty to you when you were only trying to tell me that you missed me and wanted me around again because you love me. You expressed concern over my behavior and withdrawal and instead of meeting you with an open ear and reassurances, I snapped at you for caring.” Hoseok’s breath was shaky as he let it out. “I was a royal asshole, and you were right. Jung Hoseok, at least right now, is a shitty friend if he’s going to run away from the people who care about him when things are tough. So, I wanted to tell you I’m truly sorry, Taehyung-ah. I really am, and I hope you can forgive me because I miss you too. I miss you all.”

            Taehyung looked up finally, meeting Hoseok’s misty eyes with his own. “I’m sorry hyung. I was mean and acted like a brat. You’re free to do whatever you want in your life; I just want to be a part of it. Our group isn’t the same without you, Hobi-hyung.” Taehyung roughly wiped his eyes. “And I’m sorry I was a jerk to your boyfriend; I shouldn’t have embarrassed you like that.”

            “Jaehyun isn’t my boyfriend.” Hoseok’s laugh was soft. “He was a stupid mistake. A desperate hook up to make me feel something different then what I’ve been feeling all the time lately. He was a nice boy but he was too young for me. I guess I like older guys.” Hoseok smiled sadly, lifting his shoulders in a shrug before sighing again. “I’m a mess, Tae. But I miss you all so much, I don’t think I can stay away anymore. It’s killing me.”

            “Don’t stay away. Come to dinner and movie night tonight, you can sit with me and Jiminie.” Taehyung pulled himself over to the bed, stopping in front of Hoseok and taking his hands. “We all want you there, I promise! And so what if you’re a mess? We all are.” Taehyung blinked away the tears and smiled as Hoseok looked up at him, squeezing his hands. “I hate fighting with you, hyung.”

            “I do too, Tae. Can we just move past it?” Hoseok sounded hopeful for the first time in weeks and Taehyung gave him his best boxy smile.

            “Please.”

            “Thank you. I love you, Taehyung-ah!” Hoseok was smiling in earnest now, his mouth heart shaped as he stood and pulled Taehyung up and into a hard embrace. The younger boy pretended to wheeze at the tightness but Hoseok only laughed and squeezed him tighter. Taehyung felt himself warm at the sound, laughing too as he hugged the older boy back just as hard, something seeming to settle in his chest again for the first time in days. A few moments later the door opened again and Jungkook grinned at the pair of them, nearly skipping forward to wrap his arms around both his Hyungs gleefully.

            “Are we all friends again?” Jungkook asked boldly, squealing in shock when both Taehyung and Hoseok started to tickle him. He laughed uncontrollably, struggling to get away from their merciless fingers.

            “Yeah, we are.” Taehyung grinned at Hoseok, heart soaring at the smile he got in return. All was right in the world.

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

            Jimin was looking especially cute tonight, in Taehyung’s opinion, as the ebony haired boy answered the door. His ears were littered with earrings, his fingers and wrists decorated with jewelry again. His hair was pulled back off his forehead, accentuating his perfect eyebrows, his makeup was flawless, and his contacts were in again; he wore a simple black long sleeve with a V-neck beneath his leather jacket, his blue jeans tight and ripped strategically over his thighs and knees (Taehyung was a weak man when it came to this boy, the slightest show of skin had his own knees wobbling). His smile was breathtaking as he took a step forward to wrap a hand around Taehyung’s neck and pull him down enough to kiss him softly. Taehyung’s sigh was soft and heartfelt as he leaned into the gesture, returning the kiss happily.

            “Really? In the doorway?” Taehyung jumped in shock, thankful his hands were empty this time so Jihyun didn’t get anything thrown at him in Taehyung’s surprise. Jihyun looked smug from where he stood behind Jimin, leaning against the entryway to the living room. Taehyung felt dread coil in his stomach and he looked to Jimin with wide eyes; to his surprise, the ebony haired boy just laughed silently and grinned at Jihyun. The smile seemed to throw the younger boy off, and his smirk faltered.

            “Um, hi Jihyun-ah.” Taehyung waved awkwardly, cheeks warm and he licked his lips lightly. Jimin’s eyes traced the movement with dark eyes before he turned to his younger brother and motioned him over. The taller version of Jimin complied lazily, his gait dragging until he stood in front of the couple, eyeing his older brother as Jimin raised an eyebrow at him.

            Jihyun sighed and shoved his hands in his pockets. “Hi hyung. It’s nice to meet you. I’ve heard a lot about you. Kind of.” Jimin rolled his eyes and Taehyung just stared at him in confusion before stepping forward and placing a hand against the younger boy’s forehead suddenly.

            “Um, we’ve met? Twice before, remember? Jihyun-ah, are you feeling okay? You don’t feel warm. Jiminie, did he hit his head before I got here? Do you have a concussion?” Taehyung spoke rapidly, concerned. “It that why you’re being somewhat nice to me?” Jihyun flushed and pulled away from the brunet.

            “I know we’ve met before, obviously. But you were his friend then. Jimin-hyung wanted me to meet his boyfriend properly, and I was told to behave.” The younger boy shifted uncomfortably, glaring when Taehyung started to grin. “Shut up.”

            “That’s so cute! Jiminie!” Taehyung turned to Jimin and threw his arms around his slender waist, lifting him off the ground and spinning him around twice with glee. Jimin couldn’t help but laugh out loud at his silliness, the beautiful sound making Taehyung sigh in pleasure before putting Jimin down on the ground again. Jihyun was looking at Jimin with wide eyes just as Pilwoo burst in from the dining room quickly, his face shocked. Jimin was still giggling, eyes scrunched up at the force, his arms still around Taehyung’s neck as he leaned heavily into the brunet. Taehyung’s hands were around Jimin’s waist lightly tickling his sides before he noticed Jimin’s father, breath catching. “Um, nice to see you again, sir.” Taehyung nearly squeaked, slowly releasing Jimin and making to take a step back. Jimin had gone silent again, shocked at the sight of his father and started to move away from Taehyung too, eyes alight with worry.

            “No, please don’t.” Pilwoo held his hands up as if to halt them. Taehyung could see emotions rapidly playing across his face as the older man looked between his son and the brunet, shock, understanding, and finally, relief. Pilwoo let his hands drop, clasping them in front of himself, though Taehyung could still see his hands trembling. “Please don’t stop on my accord. It’s been so long since I’ve heard Jimin’s laugh, I didn’t mean to startle you with my sudden entrance. It’s very nice to see you too, Taehyung-ssi.”

            A small hand gently intertwined with Taehyung’s larger one, fingers slotting together as Jimin leaned into the taller boy’s side; Jimin smiled up at Taehyung before turning to his father and meeting his eyes, resting his head on Taehyung’s shoulder. The younger boy could feel his cheeks warming and he rubbed the back of his neck shyly once Pilwoo’s gaze turned to him. “Chim and I are getting dinner with our group of friends, and it’s Saturday so it’s movie night. We all take turns hosting, and this week it’s at Jungkook’s house.” He explained quickly.

            “That sounds like fun.” Jihyun suddenly said, looking off to the side. Taehyung considered him for a moment before grinning, nudging Jimin. The older boy sighed and nodded, tracing the character for ‘fine’ on Taehyung’s wrist.

            “Hey Jihyun-ah, want to come? I know you don’t know anyone but the Hyungs are great, and Kookie is only a year or so older than you. It’ll be fun!”

            Jihyun looked stunned again, glancing from Taehyung to Jimin’s faces. “What. . .?”

            “You should come! I think you’ll have a good time.” Taehyung repeated, grinning a big boxy smile. Pilwoo looked shocked then pleased, hiding a smile behind his hand (Taehyung was delighted to know that it was his father that Jimin learned that gesture from). “What do you say? You coming, or are you going to stay home by yourself on a Saturday night?”

            Jihyun looked unsure, fidgeting where he stood before glancing to Jimin questioningly; the smaller boy smiled and nodded encouragingly. He seemed to take a deep breath before finally replying. “I’ll come to dinner and see if it’s awkward before committing to movie night. If that’s okay.”

            “Sounds great! We can drop you off before heading to Kook’s house if you’re uncomfortable. Let’s get going, Hoseok-hyung and Jungkook are waiting in the car!” Taehyung crowed excitedly, bowing quickly to Pilwoo as Jihyun grabbed his jacket. “It was nice to see you sir! Maybe next time I can play you a song on the piano?”

            “I would love that. Have fun boys.” Pilwoo smiled as Jihyun and Jimin turned to the door, Taehyung about to follow them when a warm hand landed on his shoulder. He turned curiously, meeting Pilwoo’s smiling eyes. “And Taehyung-ssi? Please take care of my boys. I don’t know how you managed to break down Jimin’s walls, but I really think you’re the best thing that could have happened to him. He deserves someone to make him happy, and this family will be eternally grateful to you for as long as you make him smile like that. I think you saved him.”

            “Thank you, I’ll try my very best to take care of him—them.” Taehyung swallowed hard before continuing. “And he saved me too. Jiminie is. . . the best thing to ever happen to me. I want to be with him for a long time, maybe even forever, if he’ll have me. He’s. . .” Taehyung shook his head and smiled, unable to finish the thought. Pilwoo’s eyes had softened and he gently squeezed Taehyung’s shoulder.

            “Are you coming or not?” Jihyun popped his head back in, Jimin not far behind with a curious look on his face. “This is getting awkward.” Pilwoo released Taehyung with a laugh and motioned them on.

            “Go on, have fun. I’ll see you boys tonight. Good bye, Taehyung-ssi.”

            “Taehyung is fine. And see you next time.” Taehyung grinned and waved before finally following the ebony haired brothers outside, wrapping his arm around Jimin’s shoulders once he reached him. Jimin’s arm went around his waist, his other hand coming up to trace ‘okay’ on his hip. Taehyung giggled lightly at the ticklish feeling before nodding with a smile, pressing a kiss to Jimin’s hair. “Yeah, I’m okay. More than okay, actually.”

            “Are you sure it’s okay that I come?” Jihyun sounded hesitant as they neared the car, Hoseok and Jungkook gawking openly through the windows. Taehyung laughed and threw his other arm around Jihyun’s neck, releasing Jimin to ruffle the younger Park’s hair, ignoring his protests.

            “It’s totally okay, dummy! Relax.” Releasing him, Taehyung hid behind Jimin when Jihyun went to hit him. “Jiminie, protect me from the muscle piglet!”

            “I’m going back inside.”

            “No wait, I was just kidding!”

            Hoseok unrolled the passenger window of his Soul, leaning across Jungkook to send Jihyun a warm, heart shaped smile. Jungkook grinned at Jihyun, hooking his thumb towards the backseat and calling, “Too late, we’ve already seen you. Get in.”

            Jihyun was a little pink as Jimin and Taehyung laughed, and piled in the car, Jimin in the middle seat (much to his disgust) with Jihyun behind Jungkook. Hoseok immediately swiveled around to face the younger boy, bright smile on display. “And who might you be?”

            “Jimin’s baby brother, Jihyun.” Taehyung quickly replied before Jihyun could, ignoring the dirty look the younger boy shot him.

            “It’s nice to meet you Jihyun-ah! I’m Hoseok, but you can just call me hyung.” Hoseok stuck a hand out with a blinding grin and Jihyun seemed dazed, taking the hand on instinct.

            “I’m Jungkook, and you can call me hyung too.” Jungkook’s grin was pure delight as he waved at the younger boy, looking not unlike the cat that got the canary. Jihyun glanced at Jungkook before looking back to Hoseok and realizing he was still grasping the older boy’s hand; he jerked his hand back quickly, cheeks flushing similarly to the way Jimin’s did as he looked out the window. Hoseok cooed at him before turning back around to drive, Jungkook sharing a smile with Jimin and Taehyung as they headed towards the restaurant. Taehyung wasn’t sure what Jihyun had expected, but the shocked look on his face as everyone but he and Jimin belted out the lyrics to the music pumping through the car told Taehyung this was not it. Hoseok was freestyle rapping during the instrumental, Taehyung and Jungkook adlibbing to contrast and dancing in their seats. Jimin was giggling behind his hand and dancing along, nudging his shocked brother with a grin.

            “Culture shock?” Taehyung called jokingly to Jihyun over the music, laughing when the younger boy vigorously nodded. “We have fun!”

            When they finally parked outside the restaurant, Hoseok was finishing a rap as they got out of the car, Taehyung clapping a beat as the older boy added in some dance moves, laughing brightly at the end, bowing when the others applauded. “Thank you, thank you!”

            “You’re really good, hyung.” Jihyun spoke unprompted for the first time, running his hand through his hair. Hoseok laughed and threw an arm around his shoulders, not noticing that the gesture made Jihyun turn a shade of fuchsia.

            “Thanks, Jihyunie! Lots of practice. I used to be in a street dance group and I did some rapping during that time.”

            “J-Hooope!” Taehyung and Jungkook crowed loudly, Jimin laughing under Taehyung’s arm.

            “What?” Jihyun looked confused and Hoseok shot him a finger gun with the arm not currently around the younger Park.

            “I’m your hope, you’re my hope, I’m J-Hope.” Hoseok gave his past catchphrase with gusto, shooting Jihyun a wink before laughing. “It was my stage name.” Jihyun glanced away from the older boy, cheeks red, and Hoseok poked one playfully. “Is it that embarrassing?” He asked with a pout as they entered the warm restaurant.

            Jihyun’s eyes widened comically as he shook his head quickly. “No, I, uh—”

            “Who’s this?” Yoongi’s voice called and Hoseok stilled, taking a step back on instinct as if to run. Taehyung was there then, gently taking Hoseok’s hidden hand and giving it a comforting squeeze before releasing him and pulling Jimin forwards with him.

            “That’s Jimin’s baby brother, Jihyun. He’s a bit younger than Jungkook and really shy when he’s not tearing you to shreds verbally. Enjoy.” Taehyung teased, Jihyun shooting him a look as he removed his jacket.

            “Sounds like fun.” Yoongi replied with a smirk, though he looked guarded. Seokjin and Namjoon were already seated at the table with Yoongi, Hoseok quickly going to retrieve another chair. Soon they were all squished around the table with drinks in front of them, the older two and Namjoon staring at Jihyun. He shifted uncomfortably, glancing between their faces across from him and Jimin’s on his right.

            “Is there something on my face?” Jihyun finally asked, knocking the boys out of their reverie.

            “Oh, no. Sorry.” Namjoon smiled apologetically before shrugging lightly. “It’s just. . .”

            “You look like a clone of Jimin-ah, except taller and broader. Jimin, but like you bought the regular sized candy bar instead of a fun sized version.” Seokjin finished with a grin, wincing when Jimin glared and kicked him under the table. “Ow! Come on, you know it’s true!” Taehyung laughed out loud even as Jimin punched his shoulder, Jihyun hiding a smile behind his hand (a Park trait, Taehyung was noticing).

            “You are tiny, hyung. But it’s part of your charm.” Jungkook said soothingly, grinning when Jimin picked up his chopsticks threateningly. Jimin turned to the brunet beside him, huffing as he gave the younger boy a look; Taehyung chuckled and put an arm around Jimin’s chair, his fingers lightly brushing along Jimin’s far shoulder.

            “You aren’t tiny, per say, but you aren’t big either.” Taehyung said, shrugging even as Jimin elbowed him. “I like it!” Jimin traced the character for ‘giant’ on his thigh, giggling behind his hand when the brunet pouted. “I’m not a giant!”

            “Compared to Jimin-ah, you are.” Yoongi teased, sipping his beer with a smug smile. Hoseok’s eyes darted to him, seeming to take the blonde in before taking a long pull of his red wine, swallowing before speaking.

            “Not that you can really talk, hyung. You’re taller by barely what, an inch?”

            Yoongi’s eyes widened the slightest bit as he finally looked at Hoseok, raising an eyebrow. “It counts. An inch is an inch.”

            “If you say so.” Hoseok smiled slightly, chuckling to himself as he looked away; Yoongi was still looking at him for a long moment afterwards, seeming to drink in his features before smiling softly. Hoseok glanced back, cheeks pinking as he turned resolutely away to speak with Jihyun, who looked overwhelmed at the attention. “So, you’re Jimin-ah’s only sibling, right? What are your interests, do you dance too?”

            Jihyun cleared his throat and shook his head, playing with his napkin. “I’m, uh, not a dancer. I play sports.” His answer was taciturn and it made Hoseok laugh softly.

            “What sports?”

            “Pretty much anything. Soccer, baseball. I like basketball the best.”

            “Basketball, huh? Me too. We should play some time.” Yoongi added, smiling at the younger Park. “Are you any good?”

            Jihyun’s chest puffed up and he seemed to sit straighter in his chair now, pride shining in his eyes. “Yeah, I’m really good actually. Best on my team.” He sounded a bit smug and Jimin rolled his eyes, grabbing his ear and giving it a harsh tug. The younger boy made a sound of pain before glaring down at his older brother. “What was that for?!”

            “Be humble.” Taehyung translated cheekily, laughing when Jihyun gave him a look too. “Just a hunch though.” Jimin was smiling up at him and Taehyung’s heart skipped a beat. He couldn’t help himself, he leaned down and pressed a quick kiss to Jimin’s lips, relishing in the softness. Jimin leaned into him, kissing him more firmly and running his tongue along Taehyung’s bottom lip teasingly.

            “Gross.” Jihyun muttered, Jungkook choking on a sip of water as he laughed.

            “Oh, shut up!” Taehyung whined after Jimin ended the kiss, his cheeks pink. “You’re just—”

            “Jimin? Park Jimin?” A shocked voice called from behind Namjoon. They all turned to see a boy standing there, a look of surprise on his classically handsome features. He had dark hair and eyes, a snapback over his head with sunglasses perched on the brim; he had his hands in his pockets and his eyes on the frozen ebony haired boy below Taehyung’s arm. “Is that you?”

            Taehyung glanced down and his eyes widened at the frightened look on Jimin’s face, the older boy sitting tense and still with his lower lip caught between his teeth hard. He was shaking lightly, his hands trembling in his lap as his face paled. “Jiminie?” He said softly, but Jimin didn’t react, his eyes locked on the boy across from him as if seeing a ghost.

            “It is you. I thought I recognized you! It’s been forever!” The boy smiled brightly, waving languidly at the rest of the group though his attention was focused solely on Jimin. “How have you been?” When Jimin didn’t reply, Taehyung jumped in.

            “Who are you?”

            The dark haired boy raised an eyebrow, glancing from Taehyung to Jimin for a moment before replying. “I’m Kim Daeun. Jimin and I grew up together in Busan, we were neighbors for years until his family moved. Who are you?”

            “I’m Taehyung.” He paused for a moment, unsure, before making a decision. “Chim’s boyfriend.”

            Daeun’s eyes widened and he looked to Jimin in surprise. “Boyfriend, huh? Congrats ‘Min. I’m really happy for you, especially after what happened during—”

            Jihyun stood up suddenly, his hands slamming down on the table as he glared at Daeun. Everyone jumped at the loud noise, eyeing the younger Park with shock. “Shut up, Dae!” The dark haired boy blinked in surprise, as if seeing Jihyun for the first time. His face brightened regardless of the stormy look on the younger Park’s face.

            “Oh wow, Jihyun too? I can’t believe this; it’s been so long! How have you guys been?”

            “Fine.” Jihyun gritted out. “Please leave.”

            “What? But. . .” Daeun turned to Jimin, brow furrowed. “Are you really gonna let him talk to me like that, ‘Min?” Jimin’s breathing was unsteady, too fast as he closed his eyes hard, arms coming up to wrap around his torso tightly. Taehyung moved to touch his shoulder and Jimin jerked away from him as if burned; Taehyung’s eyes flashed as he looked at Daeun, gaze narrowing as the urge to protect rose in his throat, hot and whispery.

            “I think you should go.” Seokjin spoke up, eyes on Jimin’s reaction, expression colored with worry.

            “I’ll go when Jimin tells me to go.” Daeun replied frostily, eyebrows drawing low in irritation. “’Min, talk to me, don’t just ignore me! Come on, after everything we’ve been through can’t you just talk to me?” Jimin’s hands were over his ears now, body curling into itself as he gasped raggedly for breath. “’Min, are you—”

            “Leave.” Jihyun’s voice boomed across the restaurant, his hand resting on Jimin’s shoulder firmly, and to Taehyung’s surprise the older Park allowed the contact. “Can’t you see you’re upsetting him? Just go, Daeun!”

            “He was my best friend; I just want to talk to him!” Daeun argued, frustration coloring his words. “I haven’t seen him in so long, I just want to catch up!”

            “Best friend? You don’t have any right.” Jihyun nearly snarled, his hand fisting where it lay on the table. “Not after what happened. Get the hell out of here, before I kick your ass!” Jungkook and Yoongi were standing, Seokjin calmly wiping his hands on his napkin before tossing it on the table in front of him and rising to his full height too.

            “Leave.” Yoongi’s voice was the coldest Taehyung had ever heard it, his arms crossing in front of his chest. “He doesn’t want you here.”

            “Why are you all speaking for him? I’ll leave when Jimin fucking tells me to leave himself! Back off!”

            “He can’t!” Jihyun’s fist hit the table harshly again, eyes wild with anger. “He can’t tell you himself, so fuck off!”

            Daeun paused, confused. “What? Why not?” Jihyun opened his mouth to reply when Jimin was suddenly latching onto his hand, nails biting into skin as he shook his head violently, stumbling to his feet. “Jimin?”

            “Jiminie.” Taehyung breathed, hands coming up to steady him, but Jimin pulled away from him, eyes dilated with fear as he took a few steps back, hands raised in front of him warningly. “Jimin-ah, it’s okay, you’re okay! He’s leaving, I’m here.” Taehyung said quietly, holding a hand out timidly in offering but Jimin just shook his head, hands buried in his hair as his eyes squeezed shut; the brunet winced at the harsh tug, he could practically hear the strands screaming at the pull, his own scalp prickling uncomfortably. Taehyung’s heart lurched as Jimin spun around and flat out sprinted towards the doors, nearly running into a waiter carrying a heavy food tray in his haste, and he didn’t even think before giving chase. The doors were thrown open with force and Taehyung managed to slip through them unharmed after the ebony haired boy, the bitter cold of December washing over his unprotected skin. His jacket lay forgotten on his chair, but Taehyung pushed on without it, heart racing as he lengthened his stride in hopes of catching up.

            He could hear Jimin’s labored breathing in front of him and knew it was from panic, not the exercise, could hear the rattling in his chest as he stumbled. Taehyung’s eyes widened and his breath caught on a warning as Jimin’s foot hit a slick spot, his heeled shoe slipping out from under him on the patch of ice. The gasp of fear was all Taehyung needed to put forth a final burst of energy to catch him, wrapping his arms around Jimin’s waist and twisting so the smaller boy landed on top of him instead of the sidewalk. The pavement was cold and unforgiving against Taehyung’s back, his head hitting the concrete with a resounding crack, vision going black for a second as pain ran burgundy down his whole body. He bit his lip on the landing, tasting pennies as the air left his lungs in a whoosh as Jimin’s weight slammed into him. His arms were cradling the smaller boy close, one hand curled around his skull, protecting him from the ground and the slush currently seeping along Taehyung’s back, the chill making his teeth chatter as his head felt red hot with pain. Starbursts of white and blue exploded across his vision, a forgotten childhood tune racing through his skull and bounding off bone to hit brain matter sharply with a pang.

            “Ouch.” He finally managed to gasp as oxygen crept back into his parched lungs, the word a hiss as he went limp and his arms fell from Jimin’s body to the ground with a thump. Jimin was sitting up, eyes wide with residual panic that was quickly moving to fear and concern, his hands fluttering up to Taehyung’s head. “Oh, ow.” Jimin was moving off him, uncaring of the snow beneath his shins dampening his jeans as he sat on his legs and looked around frantically for help. Taehyung grimaced, trying to sit up but the instant wooziness had him drooping back down again with a soft groan. “Oh god, bad idea.” He breathed harshly through his nose, eyes scrunching closed for a moment in an attempt to quiet the pounding. Small, cold hands ran over his face soothingly, trembling from either fear or cold, Taehyung wasn’t sure even as he opened his eyes to meet Jimin’s scared gaze. “Are you okay? Are you hurt?” He managed to say, his tongue thick and his syllables rounded. The ebony haired boy looked at him incredulously, looking like he was either going to laugh or cry.

            Jimin made a move to stand, Taehyung assumed to go get help, and he grabbed his hand to keep him from leaving, even though the motion had him moaning in pain. “Wait, don’t go. Please stay with me.” Jimin glanced down at him then back at the restaurant, head shaking slowly as tears gathered in his eyes. Taehyung’s chest panged at the sight, heart constricting tightly. “Someone’s bound to follow us out in a minute or less, just stay with me Jiminie. Please.” And he stayed, tightly gripping his hand as Taehyung tried to steady his breathing, the pounding in his head getting worse and he was tasting copper now. Jimin leaned over and pulled his sleeve over his hand, dabbing gently at Taehyung’s bitten lip (that’s what it was, his lip was bleeding), being careful not to put too much pressure on it. His own lip trembled as a tear escaped his eye and Taehyung tried to reach up and brush it away, wincing at the movement and having to give up halfway there. The ground was no longer cold and he hoped it was the numbness and not the head injury. “Don’t cry, Jimin-ah.”

            Jimin was peering sadly down at him, small hand over his mouth as his shoulders shook, and that’s the last thing Taehyung remembered before he lost time.

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

            “I called your Eomma.”

            “You what?!” Taehyung nearly shouted, staring up disbelievingly at Seokjin from where he was reclined on the hospital bed. Seokjin just placed his hands on the railing and shrugged unapologetically, a smile twitching at his lips.

            “Taehyung-ah, you’re in the hospital after a hard fall. You literally passed out and they had to give you a head scan to see if you addled your brain. So, I called your Eomma.”

            “I can’t believe this, this. . . betrayal of trust!”

            “Stop being so dramatic.” Yoongi said from where he was slouched in the armchair in the corner of the room, rolling his eyes. “She was going to find out anyway. Insurance, stupid.”

            “Aren’t you supposed to be nice to sick people?”

            “You’re sick alright. Sick in the head.”

            Seokjin laughed at Yoongi’s comment, just as Jungkook popped his head in. “Hyungs, a doctor is coming to see Taehyung-hyung, they want us to clear out for a bit.” Taehyung pouted as Seokjin and Yoongi headed towards the door, crossing his arms.

            “Traitors.” They only laughed at him, and Taehyung called out before the door closed. “Kookie, can you find Jimin? I want to see him after the doctor leaves.” Jungkook nodded as he shut the door after shooting him a finger heart, and Taehyung slumped back into his pillow, trying not move his throbbing head. A few minutes later the door was opened again, a tall man with perfectly coiffed hair walking in with a sunny smile. His white button up and black tie were covered by a lab coat, a stethoscope around his neck and a file in his hand.

            “Hi Taehyung-ssi, it’s good to see your eyes open! My name is Choi Minho, and I’m the doctor overseeing your care.” He held a hand out and Taehyung shook it. “How are you feeling?”

            “I’m great, never better!” Taehyung smiled big and boxy before frowning slightly. “Well, except for the absolutely piercing headache, overall body aches, and I’m ninety five percent sure three of my toes fell off from the cold; do they even make sandals for people with seven toes? Or will I have to stuff my shoes from now on? But other than that, I’m awesome.” Taehyung rambled, scratching the bridge of his nose thoughtfully.

            Dr. Choi laughed softly before opening his file. “Well, I can assure you that your limbs are intact so there’s no need to go shopping for seven toed shoes.” He scanned the documents before looking up with a warm smile. “The good news is you don’t have any brain swelling. It does look like you have a minor concussion, but I don’t see signs of any lasting damage. I’d like you to stay overnight for observation just to be sure and I’m going to prescribe some pain medication for the headache. After a couple good nights of sleep, you should be fine.”

            “Thanks Doc.” Taehyung smiled in thanks, rubbing his cheek nervously. “But do I really have to stay here overnight? I’d prefer to go home.”

            “I think it would best, and your Eomma agrees with me.” Dr. Choi laughed at the fear in Taehyung’s eyes. “I spoke with her on the phone. She’s getting a bag and bringing it here for you.”

            “She’s gonna absolutely kill me, or worse! Shave my hair off!” Taehyung’s hands went frantically to his hair, touching the brunet strands with a soft whimper. “Aw man, I can’t pull off baldness! My head’s the wrong shape! Save me, I’m begging.”

            Dr. Choi just chuckled as he filled out a prescription sheet, shaking his head lightly. “She’s just worried, it’ll be fine. I’m sure she won’t try to shave your head on hospital property.” Taehyung just groaned at the wording, making the doctor laugh as he gathered his things. “Ring for the nurse if you need something, they should bring your medicine in soon. Have a good night Taehyung-ssi.”

            “Night Doc. See if they have one of those fashionable head scarves lying around the cancer wing, I’ll need one when Eomma gets through with me.” Taehyung called, grinning at the laughter as the door shut. He sighed then, pinching the bridge of his nose as he yawned tiredly; this day was not going how he hoped, and his mind turned back to Jimin at the restaurant. What was up with that? Why was his reaction so visceral to seeing Daeun?

            Before he could ponder further, the door was opening and Jihyun was slipping in quickly, his face impassive as he shut the door. Taehyung waved at him as he strode over, eyes uncharacteristically serious, the usual smugness and snark absent from his pale face. Taehyung opened his mouth to greet him and Jihyun cut him off, dropping into the seat at the bedside. “No, let me talk. I’m going to tell you a story and you’re going to listen to the whole thing. Got it?”

            “Jihyun—”

            “Just listen.” His tone was pleading before he closed his eyes to collect himself, taking a deep breath before continuing. “Growing up in Busan was great. The area we lived in was right off the coast near the beach, the town was small and everybody knew everyone. It was nice, comforting. But it had its drawbacks.”

            “My brother was always super popular, outgoing and kind to everyone he ever spoke to. He spent weekends volunteering, spending time at the homeless shelters, teaching free classes to kids who couldn’t afford traditional dance lessons. Jimin was. . . good. Unfailingly sweet, honest, and helpful. Literally the best guy at the school, girls were falling over themselves to be with him or just to be around him, the guys all wanted to be him. But it never went to his head. He didn’t really date, and I never knew why because he was never short of prospects. He was asked out all the time by girls in his dance classes, school, even randomly on the street. People knew who he was, he was practically the pride and joy of Busan with his voice and his dancing skills. He was basically idol level, everyone adored him.”

            “One day he came home acting weird and wouldn’t talk about it. He brushed me off, saying he was fine, and I disregarded it. What’s one time, right? Well, one time turned into many times. He started coming home early, skipping his extracurriculars, he even dropped out as student body president. I heard our parents saying his grades were dropping too, he was unfocused, and they ended up fighting a lot. Jimin never raised his voice when we were kids, and one night I could hear him nearly screaming at Eomeoni before the door slammed to the house. He was gone for six days before he came home again, our parents had been worried sick, but nobody was talking about it. They all just went on with life as normal, like nothing was going on. But something was, clearly.”

            “He tried to seem normal, but he wasn’t always there, you know? He lost weight and started passing out every so often. We took him to the doctor, but they said he just needed to eat more, drink more water, get more sleep. So, I started watching him like a hawk. That’s how I caught him starving himself.”

            “Jihyun—” Taehyung tried to interrupt, but Jihyun pressed on.

            “He wasn’t eating, barely drank anything, was constantly working out or dancing if he wasn’t at school or vocal lessons. I confronted him about it and he snapped at me, saying it wasn’t my business and I didn’t know what I was talking about. We got in a huge fight and he stormed out. But it was getting worse as time went on; do you have any idea what it’s like to see your older brother step out of the bathroom in a towel and be able to literally count his ribs? Or to see his hip bones so sharp against his skin that they looked like they would tear through if he turned wrong? I was scared. I tried to tell our parents but they didn’t listen to me, nobody did. Apparently, I’m the only one he wasn’t fooling.”

            Jihyun took a moment before continuing, swallowing hard. “In Busan we went to the same school, not like here in Seoul. I started hearing rumors about hyung, nasty things being said about him suddenly. He was called names, comments on his weight, his height, his lips, and just what he looked like in general. All the things that people used to say were what made him beautiful were suddenly a reason to tease and bully. Then someone started the rumor that he had been spotted kissing another boy. That caught like wildfire and people in Busan aren’t. . . tolerant of people who are different, so school became a living hell for him. The boy. . . well, he said he was forced into the kiss, that it had been hyung’s idea and he wouldn’t stop even when the boy said no. He went from top of the food chain to the literal dregs after that, people openly bullied him, not to mention the stuff online. I can’t tell you how often he came home bruised or bleeding, how many times I watched him disappear into his room and wondered what was going to happen next. It wasn’t just physical bullying though, or cyber bullying; I wish that was all it was, but kids are cruel, crueler than I could have ever imagined. It reached the point that anytime he spoke he was ignored or talked over, mocked and laughed at. But hyung. . . he smiled through it all, he was still kind but he seemed. . . heartbroken. His only reprieve was dancing and singing on stage.”

            Taehyung swallowed hard around the lump in his throat, his hand clutching his heart as if to ease the pain there, his eyes misty as Jihyun spoke rapidly, clearly anxious to get the story out. Taehyung couldn’t stop him even if he wanted to, and he didn’t want to. He wanted to know, and he felt so guilty about that.

            “Jimin always had leads and solos on stage, he was a natural born performer with a stage presence that rivalled most of those airheaded popstars you see on TV. He was good at it and he loved it more than he loved anything else. He threw himself into preparation for the Showcase that had been coming up, opening night was his birthday actually, and he was so ready for it. For one night, he’d have a reprieve, he’d be able to go on stage and be someone else. Someone people respected. That night, he smiled for real for the first time in ages, seemed more himself as he prepared to go on stage. I was excited to have my older brother back, even just a little bit. So, we went to the showcase. We bought flowers and gifts, the dance company had a cake ready for after the show to celebrate the night’s success and Jimin’s birthday, it was supposed to be a wonderful night. We were all so hopeful.”

            “But then he got on stage, opened his mouth to sing and people booed. Not just stupid teenagers, not just kids, but adults too. Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. . . Jimin opened his mouth to sing and they silenced him, the noise level was so loud I couldn’t even hear Abeoji speaking to me from right next to me as he stood up. And then people were throwing things, rotten fruits and drinks, random stuff from purses and pockets. Jimin was just frozen, mouth closed tight as he withstood the assault and. . . I think something in him broke that day. He walked off stage that night and never spoke again. Why would he, when the only things he got in return for his words were cruelty and hate?”

            Taehyung was covering his mouth with his free hand, a sob caught in his throat as tears rolled down his face. Jihyun looked up from his hands, crying softly too. “He’s never been the same, he became this distant and cold shell of who he once was, and he hates to be touched or spoken to directly. Our parents tried moving him schools, but word spread through Busan; they even tried home schooling him but even then. . . he couldn’t leave the house for fear of becoming a victim of a hate crime. There was no choice but for us to move. We came here, to Seoul, because of the size and population. You can get lost in a city like this, with this many people always around. Jimin could blend in to a more tolerant culture and he could start over. But it wasn’t working out that way because Jimin refused to leave his room. We moved here in the summer and it took months to even get him enrolled and willing to come to school. There was a lot of fighting and therapy for the whole family, and I think he only agreed just so we’d leave him alone.”

            “Why are you telling me this?” Taehyung managed to say through his tears, his voice low and croaky. His chest was aching and his lungs felt constricted from the second hand grief, a hot, molten ball settling in his stomach. Jihyun was wiping his eyes as he replied softly.

            “Jimin-hyung was barely living after what happened to him, only doing the bare minimum to exist regardless of what I or anyone else tried to do. But then he met you, Taehyung-hyung.” Jihyun took a deep breath and smiled slightly at the look on Taehyung’s face. “He went to school that first day, emotionless and cold, but when he came home. . . he already seemed different. It was as if he was waking up after all this time, finally cognizant of the world around him. His eyes had the spark of life he’d lost back. And he’s been different since he met you; he’s warmer, softer almost. I caught him humming the other day, and then to hear from one of your friends that Jimin recorded a song the other day, after all this time? Taehyung-hyung, he’s known you for so little time. . . but you’ve already done so much to break down his walls and bring him back to himself, in a way no one else has been able to.”

            “I. . . I haven’t done anything though!” Taehyung’s heart was roaring in his ears as he protested, his hands coming up as if to block himself. “All I’ve done is spend time with him and not ask him questions about things he doesn’t want to talk about! I’ve just. . . been his friend. That’s it. That’s all. I haven’t done anything!”

            “You know that’s not true.” Jihyun said quietly, his gaze sharp as if he could see through the walls Taehyung’s thrown up to keep his feelings caged. “You’ve done more than you might know. And he trusts you more than anyone in this world hyung.”

            “What’s your point?” Taehyung felt rubbed raw suddenly, his skin prickling like after a bad sunburn. He felt as if something in him was peeling, breaking down under Jihyun’s white hot gaze, and Taehyung felt his fight or flight response kicking in. Jihyun just sighed and looked down at his hands.

            “Things will change after tonight. After seeing Daeun. . . I’m afraid Jimin-hyung will regress. I’m scared that he’ll pull away from you and all his new friends, because that’s what he does. He runs. And you don’t deserve that. So, you need to have the full story to make him stay, because he’s never going to willingly tell you this story, and if you don’t know it then you’ll never be able to fully have him.”

            “But Jimin doesn’t want me to know. I told him to tell me when he’s ready, you’re taking that from him! From me!”

            “Sometimes we don’t get the things we want, hyung knows that.” Jihyun replied sharply. “It’s time he grows up and stops letting the ghosts in his past keep him from the good in his future. Taehyung-hyung, I guarantee you that he’ll try to end it with you after tonight.”

            “What?” Taehyung blanched, his stomach lurching into his throat, his hand’s coming up to cover his stomach protectively. “What are you—”

            “Fight him. Don’t let him ruin this, because he needs you. Even if he’s too scared to admit it to himself. Fight for him.”

            “Jihyun—”

            “You know everything now, Jimin-hyung can’t hide from it anymore.” Jihyun opened his mouth to continue when the door opened with a bang. Taehyung’s vision blurred with pain as he jerked his head around to see Jimin in the doorway, his face ashen. Jihyun stood quickly, hands in tight fists by his sides as he eyed the older Park warily. “Hyung.”

            Jimin’s face was rapidly turning pink as he glanced from Taehyung to Jihyun. His gaze was icy hot as it ran over the brunet to his little brother, darkened with betrayal. His breath was raspy as he took a small step forward, shaking his head jerkily as his gaze narrowed on Jihyun. His hands came up to gently touch his own cheeks, head turning down as they moved to grip his hair again, twisting ebony strands painfully in a tight grip. He huffed out a sound as his hands fell and he strode forward with purpose, stopping in front of Jihyun, body swaying at the quick stop. Jihyun stared impassively down at his older brother, hands sliding in his pockets as Jimin stared up at him with a harsh glare.

            “He needed to know, hyung. You know he does.” Jihyun was saying just as Jimin’s hand came up and cracked him across the face. Taehyung cried out in shock as Jihyun stumbled into the bed railing, his hand moving to cup his wounded cheek. Jimin’s chest was moving rapidly as he made an almost inhuman sound and struck out at Jihyun again, the younger boy letting himself be hit once, twice, three times more as Taehyung shouted at Jimin to stop, before the younger Park was holding Jimin’s wrists in a tight grip. His cheek was red and puffy, discoloring in mere moments as Jimin struggled angrily against Jihyun, body thrashing even as Jihyun reeled him in closer, hugging the older boy tight against his chest. Jimin was still struggling, hitting the younger boy’s chest even as sobs bubbled their way out of his throat, the despondent sounds coming from deep within his chest. Jihyun just held him, resting his uninjured cheek on the top of Jimin’s head as he hugged him, letting Jimin cry into his chest. “I know hyung, I know.”

            “Jiminie.” Taehyung whispered, heart breaking as he held both arms out to the smaller boy, beckoning him. Jimin’s eyes opened from where his face was pressed against Jihyun’s shoulder, face crumpling as he took in Taehyung’s begging gesture. Jihyun slowly released him and gave him a nudge in Taehyung’s direction. The brunet only caught the small smile the younger Park sent him out of the corner of his eyes, his attention focusing solely on Jimin as the older boy slowly took a step forward. “Please Jimin-ah, please.” He nearly begged, beckoning again, nearly crying in relief when the ebony haired boy clambered onto the bed and crawled up to him, falling into his chest. Taehyung grunted at the weight before wrapping his arms around Jimin and stroking his hair, ignoring the pounding in his skull to lean in and press a soft kiss to Jimin’s forehead.

            They stayed like that for a while, Jimin crying into his chest, small body shaking, and Taehyung just held him, making soothing noises and gently stroking his hair. After a while, Jimin was tracing ‘sorry’ over and over, across Taehyung’s chest and stomach, his shoulders and arms, fingers gently touching the back of Taehyung’s head as he sobbed. And no matter how many times Taehyung assured him it was okay, he was okay, the older boy didn’t relent. Jimin curled into a tight ball against him and Taehyung just rocked him softly, finally giving in and crying too as the emotions from the night reached a crescendo and his heart couldn’t take any more. Grief, sorrow, empathy, and love poured out of him as they cried together, wound together tightly until Jimin’s soft sobs gave way to congested breathing as the older boy fell asleep.

            Taehyung was awake for far longer, mind strangely numb and heart aching. And when the nurse came with his medication, he refused to let her kick Jimin out, holding tight to the slumbering boy with a harsh word and glare. It was only when Dr. Choi stopped by at the nurse’s request that they were left alone, a certain kindness recognizing the vulnerability in Taehyung’s expression. It wasn’t much longer, as the pain medication kicked in, that Taehyung finally fell asleep.

            The next morning came far too early, and Taehyung woke to Jimin gently stroking his hair, mindful of the soreness at the back of his skull. Taehyung smiled sleepily down at him and pressed a sweet kiss to Jimin’s forehead. “Morning Jiminie.” The smaller boy’s answering smile was brief though he seemed calm, his face relaxed as he pressed a quick kiss to Taehyung’s lips. Taehyung moved to deepen the kiss, but Jimin pulled back with a fond look in his eyes that had Taehyung squirming under his gaze. “I like waking up to your face.” He confessed, voice deep and rumbly with sleep, and Jimin’s eyes darkened as he smiled. “It’s nice.”

            Jimin sat up slowly and stretched languidly, ruffling the hair at the back of his head; Taehyung watched him affectionately, hand moving of its own accord to run along Jimin’s back soothingly, Jimin shuddering under the contact as he glanced back at Taehyung, the brunet winking cheekily with a smile even as the older boy rolled his eyes and slid off the bed. “Hey, Jiminie?” The ebony haired boy paused before turning to him, eyebrow raised curiously. “Come over to my house today, okay? I have something to give you.”

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

            Jimin came over the moment Taehyung got home, sequestered to his room on his Eomma’s orders until the rooms stopped spinning around him and his vertigo stopped persisting. He put up a fight but one look from Jimin quelled his whining, the older boy hustling him into pajamas and bed, tucking him in soundly. Taehyung rolled his eyes as Jimin fluffed a pillow and stacked it behind his back. “This isn’t necessary, Jimin-ah. I’m fine, it was just a bump.” Jimin sent him a look and he winced, glancing up at the ceiling. “Okay, so it was more than a bump. I’m fine.”

            Jimin rolled his eyes and stepped out of the room for a few moments before returning with Taehyung’s pain medicine and a tall glass of water. The brunet took the medication without whining about it, draining half the water glass before setting it on his bedside table with a smack of his lips. “Thank you.” Jimin just waved him off and sat down on the edge of Taehyung’s bed by his feet. Taehyung couldn’t help but smile at him; his face was bare and his glasses were on, he’d changed into a pair of sweatpants and an oversized sweater (if he wasn’t mistaken, it was one of Taehyung’s). He looked so small and vulnerable, eyes tired and face drawn, so achingly soft that Taehyung’s heart hurt.

            Taehyung pouted, lifting a hand to crook a finger at the ebony haired boy. “C’mere Chim. You’re too far away.” The ebony haired boy smiled briefly and scooted forward a bit, a few inches that had Taehyung frowning playfully. “Jimin-ah!” He whined, gesturing more frantically. “Come here you tease!” Jimin’s smile was playful as he finally complied, scooting up until their hips were side by side, one foot on the floor while his other leg was tucked under him, hands pooled in his lap. Taehyung sat forward gingerly and scooped the older boy in his arms and yanked him across his lap and against his chest, leaning back against his pillows with a satisfied sigh. “There. That’s much better.” The ebony haired boy huffed in response, but the sound was warm as his arms moved to wrap around Taehyung, his face pressing closer to his neck as he snuggled in close. They sat like that for a while, Taehyung’s eyelids getting heavy as the medicine kicked in.

            “Oh, right.” Taehyung said sleepily, leaning up. Jimin shifted off his lap, nuzzling close into Taehyung’s side as the younger boy fumbled in his nightstand drawer, throwing a leg over Taehyung’s thighs. It took him a few moments but the brunet made a happy sound as his hand closed over what he was looking for, drawing it out and shoving the drawer closed before falling back into the pillows. Jimin made a soft sound as he was pulled tighter into Taehyung’s side. “So, this is for you. It’s nothing huge or big or. . . important, just a little something. Um, here.” Taehyung held the CD case out, the cover a picture of Jimin and him from weeks ago; it was the one Jungkook had taken of them cuddling on the couch, that night at Seokjin’s when they’d agreed to date. Taehyung smiled shyly as Jimin ran his fingers over the cover, glancing up at him in surprise. “That, uh, was the night of our first kiss. In case you forgot.” Taehyung laughed nervously when Jimin eyed him with warm exasperation, shaking his head lightly. “And there’s only one song on the CD, kind of a waste, I know. But it has special significance, to me at least. I was going to give it to you last night after movie night, it’s. . . that song I sang you, remember? The English one from your. . . uh, from that day in October?”

            Jimin’s eyes lit up with understanding as his gaze went back to the case, and Taehyung continued anxiously. “I recorded it, that same day you sang ‘Promise’. Joon-hyung and Yoongi-hyung helped me make it a finished song, it’s more refined now and in my head it’s. . . my song to you. When I sing it, I think of you. So, I wanted to share it, wanted you to have it because I never would have done anything with the lyrics if I hadn’t met you. So, it’s more your song then mine.”

            Jimin’s finger’s shook lightly as he traced ‘name’ over Taehyung’s heart. Taehyung laughed softly under his breath. “’Winter Bear’. That’s the name.” Jimin nodded against his chest, gently setting the CD case back on the nightstand as he sat up, eyes strangely blank as he met Taehyung’s gaze. The brunet smiled nervously at the older boy, hand coming up to rub the back of his neck. “It’s not much, but I hope you like it.” Jimin laughed softly, the sound gentle as he shook his head and moved. Taehyung gasped softly as Jimin straddled his lap, his thighs framing Taehyung’s hips as the ebony haired boy settled comfortably in the cradle of Taehyung’s lap. Jimin’s hands were resting on his shoulders then, slowly sliding down Taehyung’s pecs as he leaned down and sealed their lips together.

            Taehyung’s eyes fell closed as he settled into it, the brushing of their lips soft and sensual as Jimin led, his tongue licking into Taehyung’s mouth unhurriedly. It was hot and wet, Taehyung’s hands moving to grasp Jimin’s hips and pull him closer, their chests brushing as a small hand moved to cup his jaw. The older boy’s lips were soft against his, a contrast to his teeth as he bit lightly on Taehyung’s lower lip, tugging it before his tongue delved back into Taehyung’s mouth. They kissed for a long while, time blurring for Taehyung as the only thing he could focus on was Jimin in his lap and the insistent lips and tongue against his mouth. He was breathless when Jimin finally pulled back and rested their foreheads together, dark eyes half lidded as Taehyung met his gaze.

            “Jimin. . .” Taehyung whispered, his voice both too loud and too quiet in the intimate space between them. Their lips brushed together lightly when he spoke, a soft caress that had him trembling. The words Taehyung had been desperate to speak were on the tip of his tongue, tasting sweet and close as he sighed softly. It would be so easy, to speak them now in this bubble they’d created between themselves. So easy to just put them out there, to give them to Jimin as a present wrapped in golden promise, and hope that he would catch him as he fell. Taehyung swallowed down his nerves, heart racing as he opened him mouth again. “Jiminie, I—” But then Jimin was kissing him again, soft and slow, then hard and desperate before abruptly pulling back with a smile. Taehyung was dazed as the older boy slid from his lap to the floor, stumbling a bit before sliding on his shoes.

            Taehyung watched him, eyes wide and face flushed as Jimin turned back to him and sat on the edge of the bed with a small smile. The older boy reached out and gently brushed Taehyung’s bangs from his face with a soft look in his eyes. “Oh, do you have to go?” Taehyung finally found his voice again, as raspy as it may be. Jimin nodded, his frown regretful as his thumb ran across Taehyung’s cheekbone. The younger boy cleared his throat and smiled, leaning back tiredly against his pillows again. “Okay. I’ll see you at school tomorrow then? And you’ll text me, right?” Jimin smiled in response, leaning in to give him a long, lingering kiss before standing. He paused for a moment after picking up the CD case, quickly placing a knee on the bed and throw his arms around Taehyung tight, the younger boy making a soft ‘oof!” sound before he hugged back tight.

            Jimin pulled back with a soft smile and pressed a kiss to Taehyung’s forehead, his hands in the hair on either side of Taehyung’s temples as he rested their foreheads together again. He stayed there for a long moment, gaze searching Taehyung’s face slowly, before finally pulling away with a small wave. Taehyung’s breathing was unsteady as he waved back with a boxy smile. “Goodnight Jimin-ah.” Jimin blew him a kiss before leaving the room, shutting the door lightly behind him.

            It wasn’t until the next day, when Taehyung made it to class and Jimin never showed up that Taehyung realized the older boy had never said he’d see him tomorrow. That the ebony haired boy had never texted him. His heart was pounding throughout the day, chest filled with dread when by the end of last period Jimin had missed the whole day and he was begging Jungkook to drive him over to Jimin’s house. The younger boy complied worriedly, glancing at Taehyung throughout the car ride there, but the brunet was too preoccupied to notice. His lip was nearly chewed through as they reached the darkened house and Taehyung threw his door open and scrambled out, ignoring Jungkook’s shouts behind him.

            His heart was pounding loudly in his ears, a rushing sound growing as Taehyung reached the door and rang the bell. He could hear it echoing through the large house, and he knocked after a few moments. When no one answered, he turned to the windows with shaking hands, stumbling down into the mulched garden to peer inside, heart dropping at the sight of white drop cloths covering the furniture, the lights off. His chest was aching as he pulled himself out of the flower bed and back onto the doorstep, pushing past Jungkook who was beside him suddenly, running around the house to the back yard.

            Breath coming in sharp pants, Taehyung hurried up the stairs of the desk, eyeing the stacked deck furniture with growing dread as he peered in the sliding glass door at the kitchen. It was empty and dark so he moved on to the dining room windows. “Hyung, hold on a sec!” Jungkook’s voice was distant as he hurried to catch up, but Taehyung disregarded him, nausea rising in his stomach as the dining room was covered with white cloths too. “Hyung, calm down! Just breathe for a second!”

            Taehyung realized his breathing was rapid, sounding panicked even to him as he dug his phone out of his pocket, nearly dropping it as he trembled. The display lit up as he quickly scrolled through his contacts and clicked on Boyfriend Jiminie before lifting it to his ear. It rang twice before cutting off with an out of service message before the call ended. Taehyung heard a pained sound and realized it came from him as he lowered his phone and opened his text thread, shooting off a text at rapid speed.

Kim Taehyung

[Jiminie]

            “Hyung, you’re scaring me! Please, just breathe, okay? I’m sure there’s a simple explanation for—” Taehyung’s phone chimed with a text and he quickly opened it, eyes wild.

Boyfriend Jiminie

[ERROR201: We’re sorry. You have reached a number that has been disconnected or is no longer in service.]

            Taehyung stared blankly down at his cell phone as Jungkook’s voice faded into the background, his knees giving out until he was sitting on the steps of the deck, Jungkook forcing his head between his knees.

            Jihyun had been right.

            Jimin was gone.

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

Kim Taehyung

[i miss you.]

Boyfriend Jiminie

[ERROR201: We’re sorry. You have reached a number that has been disconnected or is no longer in service.]

Kim Taehyung

[it’s been two weeks since you disappeared. do you miss me? do you think about me at all?]

Boyfriend Jiminie

[ERROR201: We’re sorry. You have reached a number that has been disconnected or is no longer in service.]

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

Kim Taehyung

[where did you go? Why didn’t you say goodbye?]

Boyfriend Jiminie

[ERROR201: We’re sorry. You have reached a number that has been disconnected or is no longer in service.]

Kim Taehyung

[did you leave because I know what happened? or was it because you know I was going to tell you I love you?]

[because I do, I love you so much it’s killing me]

Boyfriend Jiminie

[ERROR201: We’re sorry. You have reached a number that has been disconnected or is no longer in service.]

[ERROR201: We’re sorry. You have reached a number that has been disconnected or is no longer in service.]

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

            “And what emotion are you portraying here, Taehyung-ssi?” The teacher’s voice was too loud in the quiet of the room, and Taehyung fidgeted in front of the class, red rimmed eyes on his piece. The colors were swirled of blue, red, and purple, white mixed in to create blank spaces. The image was of a human head, the features distorted to obscurity to keep with the theme of abstraction, though it was clear that a face hid within the confines. Taehyung examined the waterfall of hair and red cherub cheeks, the small nose and full lips hidden within the swirling colors, heart thudding painfully. He could feel Kibum’s worried gaze on him as his face stayed blank, fingers twisting together behind his back. “Taehyung-ssi?”

            “Uh, sorry.” Taehyung murmured, ripping his gaze from the canvas as nausea settled in his stomach. “Heartbreak. The painting portrays heartbreak.”

            “And what made you—”

            “Can I sit down? Please?” Taehyung interrupted, not waiting for an answer before picking up his canvas carelessly and making his way back to his seat, gaze locked on his feet as people whispered around him. He tried his best to block them out as the class continued after a moment. The bell rang what felt like eons later and Taehyung stood quickly.

            “Hey, are you okay? If you need to talk, I’m here you know.” Kibum’s voice was uncharacteristically gentle, a hand resting on Taehyung’s shoulder softly. Taehyung shot the older boy a small smile, shaking his head.

            “I’m fine.”

            “Tae—”

            “I’m fine, really.” Taehyung headed towards the door, Kibum following behind hesitantly.

            “Your painting is beautiful; it might be your best one yet.” Kibum commented, glancing down at the canvas in Taehyung’s hand. “I thought you picked a different emotion though.” Taehyung fought the urge to laugh hysterically as they reached the door and he paused, holding up the painting to look at it one more time.

            “So did I.” Without further ado, Taehyung moved to the trashcan and pitched the canvas in, ignoring the sound of shock and protest Kibum made before he moved to the door again and left the classroom. “So did I.”

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

Kim Taehyung

[pls com bakc. i mis su jiminie]

Boyfriend Jiminie

[ERROR201: We’re sorry. You have reached a number that has been disconnected or is no longer in service.]

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

            “Taehyung-ah? Tae?”

            Taehyung looked up from the textbook in front of him suddenly, blinking sluggishly at Hoseok standing in front of him as he pulled the earbuds out of his ears. The café he was sitting in wasn’t too crowded today, despite it being winter break for the high schools. Taehyung found himself here more and more lately, drinking the cheap cocoa as he read ahead for his classes starting in the new year. “Oh, hi Hobi-hyung.” A quick glance to the right showed Namjoon and Seokjin standing there. “Oh Hyungs, I didn’t see you there. Hi.”

            “We haven’t heard from you in a while kid, where have you been?” Seokjin said lightly as the older boys took a seat at Taehyung’s table, smile filled with warmth. Taehyung’s smile was hollow as he shrugged, eyes falling back on his notebook and textbook.

            “Around.”

            “We’ve missed you at movie night.” Namjoon added softly, tapping the table to get Taehyung’s wandering attention again. “It’s been three weeks.”

            “Sorry hyung. I’ve been busy. Studying and all.” Taehyung replied quietly, shoulder lifting and falling despondently, twisting the ring around his middle finger anxiously.

            “Tae, you’re on winter break! You should be having fun!” Hoseok’s excitement seemed forced even to him, and he winced before brightening. “Christmas is almost here. And your birthday! What crazy thing are we doing this year to celebrate? Please don’t say paintball again.”

            “And please not more bungee jumping.” Namjoon shuddered at the thought. Seokjin laughed, shoulders shaking with mirth. “The amusement park wasn’t too bad.”

            “What about that time we took a trip to the haunted house in Islan? Hoseok nearly passed out.”

            “Can you blame me? That was scary as hell. I swear you want to kill me, Taehyung-ah.” Hoseok whined playfully. “So, what’s the scheme this year?” The three boys looked at the brunet as he sipped his cocoa slowly before releasing a soft sigh.

            “I actually would rather just stay home this year, maybe watch a movie or something. I’ve got a lot of homework and reading to do anyways, it’s not good timing.” Taehyung finally said as he set his cup down, ignoring the way his hyung’s faces fell. “Maybe we can all get together for dinner or lunch after new years. That’s more than enough.”

            “Taehyung-ah.” Seokjin was leaning forward, his face worried. “Come on kid, let’s do something wacky and fun that’s going to age me rapidly with worry. It’s your birthday, you can’t just stay at home doing nothing! You have plenty of time to get through your schoolwork before the year begins.”

            “That’s what I want to do hyung.” Taehyung disagreed, shutting his textbook with a firm snap as he stood and started gathering his stuff. “I appreciate the sentiment but I’m really just too busy for birthdays and holidays right now.”

            “Taehyung-ah!” Namjoon whispered, watching with sad eyes as Taehyung shoved things into his backpack, mouth turned down in a frown. “We just want to cheer you up; you deserve to have a good time.”

            “Yeah, well, I don’t want to have a good time. I don’t want to be cheered up. I kind of just want to be left alone.” Taehyung took a deep breath and paused in his actions. “Respectfully, Hyungs.”

            “This isn’t healthy, Tae.” Hoseok said softly, his hand coming out to touch Taehyung’s wrist. The brunet pulled his hand back and gave him a look. “We know you’re upset but—"

            “What is this, an intervention?” Taehyung asked incredulously, interrupting the older boy. “Because that’s unnecessary. I’m fine. Never been better. So, I’d appreciate it if you just dropped it and let me do what I need to do to move on from this.” Taehyung threw his backpack over his shoulder and picked up his cup, before shooting his friends one more hard look. “I understand that you’re all just trying to be good friends, and I appreciate you and love you for it. But you can’t help with this. Jimin is gone. That’s it, that’s all there is to it. So, I have to figure out how to get over him, and right now the only thing I can do is study and focus on school. Let me do that.” Nodding once to himself, Taehyung headed towards the coffee shop doors, offhandedly reminding himself to find someplace new next time as he tossed his drink and left.

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

            “Oppa, thank you!” Eonjin’s voice was shrill and excited, the sound grating on Taehyung’s already frayed nerves. He put on a smile as Eonjin turned to him with an ecstatic look as she held the sweater Taehyung had gotten her for Christmas. It was the Gucci one he knew she’d been eyeing all year, and her genuine happiness had his smile defrosting a bit. “I love it, you’re the best!”

            “Just remember that the rest of the year.” He joked halfheartedly, sipping the peppermint cocoa mixture his Eomma made every year, the hot drink warming his chilled body. Eonjin stuck her tongue out at him before turning back to the sweater to admire it with relish, Jeonggyu glancing up from his new video game to grin at Taehyung in thanks. Taehyung smiled before standing, his untouched pile of gifts still beside where he sat on the couch, heading towards the kitchen. “Does anyone want more cocoa?” His younger siblings called out a no as he entered the open room, heading for the stove to fill his cup.

            He sighed as he dropped marshmallows into the drink, hand coming up to rub tiredly at his eyes and he slumped against the countertop. The lack of sleep was getting to him, the exhaustion becoming more and more prevalent every day. He’d give anything to sleep through the night.

            “You look tired, honey bear.” His Eomma’s voice had him startling badly, the hot drink spilling a bit as he jumped. He hissed at the scalding liquid against his skin, moving to the sink to run his hand under cold water as he set the cup on the counter. His Eomma was there, cleaning the spill before taking his hand in hers and gently patting it dry. He stood there, frozen as she babied him, eyes feeling hot and chest feeling heavy. “I’m sorry love, I didn’t mean to startle you. I thought you heard me.”

            “It’s okay, I was in my own world. You know me! Always an airhead.” He joked feebly, eyes on where their hands were joined together; the joke fell flat and he was too exhausted to care. She made a soft sound before gently pulling him towards the porch door. His Eomma lifted their jackets from the hooks, handing Taehyung his before disappearing for a moment, reappearing with a thick blanket.

            “Come with me, honey bear.” She led him outside, wordlessly heading towards the porch swing at the far end of the porch; Taehyung followed, burrowing into his jacket hood as he sat beside her, smiling lightly when she wrapped the thick blanket around them. They sat there for a few long moments, swinging gently in the crisp air as Taehyung’s eyes roved over the untouched snow on their front yard. It had snowed the night before, a thick white blanket coating anything and everything, turning the world icy and cold. He could already feel his cheeks pinking with the wind, a soft tremor rocking his body before his Eomma was wrapping an arm around him and pulling him closer, resting her cheek on his shoulder. “You’re not doing well, are you?”

            Guilt coursed through him and he shook his head with a soft, fake laugh. “I’m fine Eomma.”

            “You keep saying that and I’ll keep not believing it.” She replied, giving him a look that had him cowering. “I know you, and you’re not fine.” She paused, as if considering her words before continuing. “It’s okay to miss him.”

            “What?” Taehyung’s heart pounded loudly in his ears as he looked down at her in shock, cheeks reddening more. “What are you talking about?”

            “I know what’s been going on the last few months, hon. I’m perceptive and you’re not that sneaky.” She teased lightly, squeezing him tighter. “And I know how much you care about him. It’s okay to miss him.”

            “I don’t know what you mean.” Taehyung stared resolutely forwards as his breath caught in his throat. “I don’t miss. . . I’m not. . .”

            “It’s okay.”

            After a few silent moments, Taehyung said softly, “I’m angry.”

            “That’s okay too.”

            “And I’m scared. Eomma, I. . . I think—no, I know—I’m in love with him. And he just left me.” His words slowly became more and more shaky as tears clouded his vision. “He left without saying a word. Not even a goodbye.”

            “I’m so sorry honey bear.” She sighed softly, pressing a kiss to his temple. “I have no idea what he was thinking, but I’d like to think it was something within him that made him leave. It wasn’t your fault.”

            “Maybe it was.” Taehyung’s voice was barely a whisper as he lifted his hands and covered his face. “Maybe it was me. It’s always me, Eomma. I can’t blame him.” His Eomma made soft tutting sounds, running her hand through his hair soothingly. “I always mess things up.”

            “You didn’t do anything wrong Taehyung-ah.”

            “How can you know that? Eomma, I almost told him I. . . and then he was gone. Maybe he didn’t feel the same.” Taehyung laughed suddenly, the sound cold and sad. “What am I saying, of course he didn’t feel the same. Fuck.” He cursed quietly as tears ran down his cheeks. “I didn’t want to cry.”

            “Let it out, baby. I’m here.” His Eomma held him gently as he turned into her shoulder and cried softly, body shaking as he was overwhelmed with emotion. “Things will get better, I promise.”

            “I just. . . I want him. God, why does this hurt so much?” Taehyung’s voice was watery as he spoke, thick with tears. “What’s the point? Why do we fall in love if it only ever ends in heartbreak?”

            “Some love stories do, but not all.” His Eomma disagreed, shaking her head lightly. Before she could continue, Taehyung interrupted.

            “Yes, they do! You and Appa barely held it together all those years ago, my Hyungs still aren’t speaking, and now me and. . . It never ends well! Love. . . is never enough, is it? It’ll never be enough.”

            “Taehyung.” His Eomma forced him to sit up straight, brushing the tears away from under his eyes and giving him a stern look. “Sometimes love is hard. It’s not that it’s not enough, but you have to want it to work. That’s the difference. Your Appa and I had a lot of problems that took time to work out, but we did it because we love each other and want to be together. It wasn’t easy, but we decided to come back together. I don’t know what happened with your friends, but honey, just because some relationships don’t work doesn’t mean that love is never enough.” She brushed his too long bangs from his eyes, shaking her head slowly. “Baby, sometimes people don’t work well together or life gets in the way. But that’s not love’s fault. Don’t be silly.”

            “I don’t know if I believe that anymore.” Taehyung whispered, lower lip trembling. “Because I want it to work. I want it more than anything.”

           “I know you do. But Jimin—” He flinched at the name and she rubbed a soothing hand over his hair. “—Jimin has things he needs to work out within himself. Sometimes we can’t accept love because we feel like we don’t deserve it. That’s what it sounds like here to me.”

            “But he does deserve it.”

            “He might not feel that way, honey bear. And sometimes it’s easier to run away then take a good, hard look in the mirror.”

            Taehyung fell against her again, head resting on her shoulder as a few more tears leaked out. “I don’t think he’s coming back.”

            “What is supposed to happen will happen. Be patient baby, you never know what will come. But remember that you deserve to be loved too, and you shouldn’t wait for someone who can’t give you that.” She pressed a kiss to the crown of his head. “But you’re stubborn, so you’ll probably ignore that piece of advice.” Taehyung’s surprised laugh was wet but genuine. “You’re going to be okay; I promise you that. It just might take a while, so lean on your family and friends. Let us be there for you.”

            “Okay. I love you, Eomma.”

            “I love you too, honey bear. Now let’s get back inside and warm up. You have presents to open.” His Eomma drew him to his feet and for the first time in a while, Taehyung found himself smiling as they walked back inside.

 

*                                  *                      *

 

            “There you are! I almost didn’t recognize you!” Jungkook’s voice rang out across the diner, making Taehyung flinch and nearly drop his strawberry milkshake. He caught the glass and carefully set it on the table, looking up to see his horde of friends making their way over to him loudly singing an off key rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’. He fought the smile threatening to break out across his face, raising an eyebrow when they all piled into the booth; Namjoon, Seokjin, Hoseok across from him, Jungkook and Yoongi beside him. Jungkook threw his arm around Taehyung shaking him lightly as he tugged on a dyed strand. “The school’s gonna have a conniption!”

            “I don’t care.” Taehyung shrugged with a smile, ruffling his newly dyed hair. He’d made the decision to dyed it a brassy blonde, trimming the locks until they were close cropped around his head, the bangs straight across his forehead and just above his dark and bold eyebrows. It was a more severe look on him and he wasn’t quite sure if he liked it yet.

            “It looks good Taehyung-ah, makes you look older.” Hoseok promised, smiling brightly at him.

            “Which is perfect, since it’s somebody’s birthday!” Jungkook crowed, shaking Taehyung again. “Do you know how hard it was to track you down?”

            “That was kind of the point.” Taehyung replied, sipping his milkshake and giving the boys across from him a look. “I specifically remember mentioning I didn’t want to do anything for my birthday this year.”

            Namjoon looked a little embarrassed but Seokjin just grinned and waved him off. “Yeah, but since when do we listen to you?” Taehyung shrugged as if to say, ‘fair’. “Besides, it’s our job as your friends to make sure your birthday is good. So here we are, ready or not.”

            “I’m hungry. Let’s eat.” Yoongi decided suddenly, lifting a menu and Jungkook detached himself from Taehyung to look at it with him. Taehyung just laughed softly under his breath as the table grew rowdier, giving in.

            It wasn’t until their food came that Taehyung realized just how much he had missed his friends the last few weeks, and the guilt over being a hypocrite hit him. He glanced up and made eye contact with Hoseok, an apology in his eyes that Hoseok only smiled at and waved off with a wink. Their table was too loud, other diners giving them looks, but the blonde couldn’t bring himself to care as he laughed at the stupid jokes Seokjin told, listening intently to Namjoon’s newest projects, and watched Yoongi and Hoseok dance around each other. He was amused and fond, something warm and light slipping into his chest as his friends joked and talked, the feeling of something loosening in his chest making him breath out a small sigh of relief.

            “Where to next?” Jungkook questioned after all the food had been demolished and the milkshakes had been drained. Everyone was a bit quieter, satisfied and full as they leaned back in the booth, smiles all around. They all glanced to Taehyung and he groaned.

            “Ugh, fine. We can hang out.”

            Hoseok nearly squealed with glee as he hopped out of his seat and did a jig. “We have presents back at Joonie and Jinnie-hyung’s place! And I got some soju for the occasion.”

            “You said you wanted to watch movies, right? How about a movie night then?” Seokjin inquired with a smile. “I baked a cake.”

            “And we got the snacks!” Jungkook motioned to himself and Yoongi joyfully, the older boy grunting as the younger boy forced him out of the booth.

            “And I touched nothing.” Namjoon grinned, pushing his glasses up as he took Seokjin’s hand, making Taehyung laugh out loud.

            “How can I say no to that?”

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

Kim Taehyung

[happy new year Jimin-ah]

Boyfriend Jiminie

[ERROR201: We’re sorry. You have reached a number that has been disconnected or is no longer in service.]

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

Kim Taehyung

[happy valentines day. wish you were here.]

Boyfriend Jiminie

[ERROR201: We’re sorry. You have reached a number that has been disconnected or is no longer in service.]

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

            Taehyung and Jungkook were shoving each other playfully as they turned a corner to head towards the restaurant they were meeting their friends in, joking around as the voices reached them. Taehyung grabbed the younger boy and stopped him from moving, putting a finger to his lips as he peered around the corner, Jungkook following his lead quietly. Hoseok and Yoongi were standing outside the restaurant, about a block away and close to the corner Jungkook and Taehyung had found themselves at, staring each other down as their voices filled the air.

            “Are you dating him?” Yoongi asked directly, his voice soft as he eyed Hoseok. The dark haired boy shifted and pulled his jacket tighter around himself as he glanced around.

            “So, what if I am? Why, do you care or something?” Hoseok’s voice was lower than normal and missing its usual radiance, his expression a little mean. Yoongi huffed out a sigh, running a hand through his hair.

            “Hobi, you know I do.”

            “No, actually, I don’t know that.” Hoseok replied petulantly. “I’m going in.” He went to brush by Yoongi when the mint haired boy grabbed his upper arm lightly to stop him, hand falling away quickly when Hoseok glanced back at him.

            “Wait, Hoseok.” Yoongi quickly said before falling silent, biting his lip as he stared at the ground. Hoseok waited patiently, hands sliding in his pockets as he gazed off into the distance until Yoongi ruffled his own hair hard in aggravation. “Damn it, why can’t I just talk around you? Why is it so hard for me to open my mouth?”

            “Hyung—”

            “Wait, wait. I just. . . I need to say it, even if it’s too late.” Yoongi took a deep breath and let it out on a harsh sigh. “I love you, Hoseok. I always have, for years now, with no signs of it fading. I love you so much it hurts me sometimes, makes me say and do stupid shit that I don’t mean to hide it. I push you away constantly because I’m scared of how totally and completely enamored I am with you. And it’s probably way too late to admit this, but I can’t even remember why we fought in the first place.”

            “I don’t know either.” Hoseok’s voice was faint and wispy as he stared wide eyed at the older boy, hand coming up to cover his mouth.

            “So there. I needed to just get it out, you deserve that much.” Yoongi shrugged weakly, his hands stuffing themselves into his hoodie pocket, averting his gaze. “So, of course I care. But. . . I just want you to be happy Seok-ah. If he makes you happy, so be it.”

            “Hyung. . .” Hoseok whispered, his other hand coming up to rest over his heart hard, his pupils blown wide with shock as he trembled. Yoongi didn’t glance up as he reached up to pull his black beanie farther over mint locks before gesturing to the restaurant.

            “Well, anyways. We should head in otherwise the others are going to whine at us for being late and making them wait. You know how Jin-hyung can get.” Yoongi brushed past Hoseok with his eyes on the restaurant doors, his cheeks red and eyes downcast as he hurried forwards. He was stopped by a hand catching his elbow, pulling him to a halt. “Seok-ah—”

            He was cut off when Hoseok took a step into his personal space, his hands coming up to cup Yoongi’s jaw as he laughed softly. “You idiot. Stupid hyung.” Hoseok shook his head before he was leaning in and kissing the mint haired boy, Yoongi gasping as their lips made contact, his hands coming up to grip Hoseok’s hips tight.

            Taehyung and Jungkook silently cheered, hopping up and down in a circle in celebration before peeking around the corner again, grinning at the sight of their kissing Hyungs. Yoongi had relaxed fully into Hoseok’s grasp, eyes closed and cheeks dusted red as he was kissed. Hoseok pulled back after a few minutes, eyes bright and smile brighter as he brushed their nose tips together playfully.

            “I love you too, Yoongi. It’s always been you, even when I didn’t want it to be.” Hoseok’s voice was soft as he sighed on his confession, looking lighter than he had in years. “Don’t you know that?”

            “I guess I didn’t.” Yoongi was uncharacteristically shy, ducking his head as Hoseok pulled him into a hug. “I’m sorry.”

            “Make it up to me then!” Hoseok released the older boy with a heart shaped smile, linking their fingers together and pulling him away from the restaurant and towards the parking lot with a bubbly laugh. Yoongi’s answering smile was purely happy, eyes crinkling at the force of it.

            “Whatever you want Seokseok.”

            Taehyung and Jungkook watched them disappear with bright smiles, nudging each other excitedly before hurrying inside to find their Hyungs and spread the news. Taehyung felt warmer than he had in a long time.

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

Kim Taehyung

[hope your summer is going well. the guys and I went camping this weekend. Jungkook was annoying so I pushed him in the lake, it would have made you laugh. I hope you’re doing well.]

[I love you, still. after all this time.]

[do you think of me? ever?]

Boyfriend Jiminie

[ERROR201: We’re sorry. You have reached a number that has been disconnected or is no longer in service.]

[ERROR201: We’re sorry. You have reached a number that has been disconnected or is no longer in service.]

[ERROR201: We’re sorry. You have reached a number that has been disconnected or is no longer in service.]

Chapter Text

            “Tae’s first day of college! What a momentous occasion, I never thought it would happen!” Seokjin fake cried into his hands, laughing when Taehyung leaned over the center console from the backseat to punch him in the arm.

            “Jungkook is here too! What about him?” Taehyung complained lightly, sitting back at the look Namjoon sent him from the passenger seat. The older boy snickered and glanced at him in the rearview mirror.

            “Well, it was obvious Jungkookie would get in, he’s smart.”

            “What the fuck, hyung!” Taehyung cried, ignoring Jungkook cackling beside him. “You’re so mean to me; I don’t know why we’re friends.” Taehyung smiled as they pulled into a parking space on campus, rolling his eyes when Seokjin caught Namjoon by his shirt sleeve to press a kiss to the junior’s lips. “Gross, get a room.” Seokjin’s eyes were dark as he pulled back from the kiss, licking his lips.

            “That’s a good idea, you should skip Joonie.”

            Namjoon was flushed red as he quickly snagged his bag and rolled his eyes. “I can’t miss the first day of classes, Jin-hyung.”

            “Come on babe, for me? Your loving fiancé?” Seokjin wiggle his left hand teasingly, the light glinting off the gold and diamond band found there. Namjoon’s flush turned redder even as he smiled, pleased. He leaned over the console to press another kiss to Seokjin’s lips, ignoring Jungkook and Taehyung retching playfully in the background.

            “Not even for you, love.” Namjoon teased, laughing at the look on Seokjin’s face as he opened the car door. “Remember, we have that meeting with the caterer tonight, don’t forget.”

            “I won’t.” Seokjin huffed, though his smirk was amused. “See you guys, have a great first day of college, children. Love you Joon.”

            “Bye hyung!” Jungkook called excitedly, slamming his door shut and nearly skipping around to throw his arms around Namjoon and Taehyung’s shoulders. “This is gonna be awesome!” Taehyung smiled in response, adjusting his bag over his shoulder as he ran a hand through his shaggy blue locks held back by his Gucci headband.

            The campus was familiar from all the times they had visited Hoseok and the others while still in high school, so Taehyung’s anxiety was a lot lower than he would have thought. People were milling around, most looking ready to pass out at the early hour and in desperate need of caffeine. The blue haired boy just chuckled under his breath, listening to Jungkook babble in his ear as he was yanked towards the small café on campus. It was a rustic building, all brick and burlap decorations, small and cozy enough that Taehyung immediately felt as if he could study here. The seats were occupied by people laughing and talking, sipping on hot drinks as they waited for their first classes to start.

            “Hey guys!” Hoseok chirped from a table in the corner, waving them over and motioning to the drinks in front of him gleefully. “Come sit!” The boys made their way over with smiles to sit, Hoseok greeting each of them with hard hugs. “I’m so happy you guys are finally here on campus with Namjoonie and I! This is going to be so much fun!”

            “Says the one in his last year.” Jungkook rolled his eyes playfully. Hoseok just laughed and gestured to the drinks.

            “True. Americano for Kookie, vanilla latte for Joonie, and a hot cocoa for Taehyungie.” Hoseok cooed, handing them their respective cups. They uttered their thanks and it was quiet for a moment as they sipped their drinks before Hoseok was speaking up. “You guys excited?”

            “Very excited! I’m trying out for the dance team this afternoon, and I’m going to check out the clubs available after class.” Jungkook babbled excitedly. “I’m excited to go to classes I actually picked, instead of classes I have to take because the school system told me to.”

            “I’m ready to get back into my philosophy classes and finish my degree.” Namjoon added, smiling behind his cup. “I’m talking to my counselor about my next step towards a masters degree this morning too.”

            “What about you, Tae?” Hoseok asked, pulling Taehyung out of his distracted reverie. He smiled faintly, twisting the ring on his middle finger thoughtfully.

            “Well, I didn’t expect to be here this year. I always thought I’d take a year off, but I couldn’t deny the scholarship so I’m not sure. I have a couple art classes and one photography class, but I’m not really taking any real courses this semester. Trying to figure it out.” He shrugged lightly, pulling out his phone to check the time. “Speaking of which, duty calls.” Standing up, he clapped Jungkook on the shoulder and waved at the others. “Thanks for the cocoa Hobi-hyung, see you guys around lunch.” And with that, he left the café, wandering in the direction of the art buildings.

            The fall air was a cool relief from the summer heat, his skin bronzed from all the time he spent outdoors over the break. He ruffled his blue hair again, running a hand through it to make it fall right as he walked down the shaded path, wondering again if the color was a bit much. He’d dyed it on a whim a week ago after letting his color return to its natural ebony over the summer, bored and restless with the dark locks. Dark hair wigged him out and there was a safety and comfort in blue even if it drew a lot of stares.

            His classes passed quickly that morning, and to his surprise he was actually excited for them. The painting class would prove to be a challenge, he was sure, since he mostly stuck to photography and drawing since the new year began. He hadn’t put a paintbrush to canvas in a very long time and he missed it. It was comforting to see familiar faces in those classes too, Kibum was in his design class, much to his excitement, and there were more friendly faces from high school in his painting and drawing classes. He was leaving his design class, chatting with Kibum when his cell rang.

            “Hold on, sorry.” Taehyung grinned when Kibum rolled his eyes at him, lifting the phone to his ear. “Darla’s whore house, you got the dough, we got the hoe. How many I direct your call?” Kibum choked on the water he was drinking, Taehyung laughing openly at him.

            “Tae, I told you never to answer your phone like that again.” Jungkook whined, voice tinny from the phone’s speaker.

            “But it always elicits such a fun reaction!”

            “How can you—you know what, we don’t have time to unpack all that right now. Where are you?”

            “I’m with Kim Kibum—remember him from high school? Elfin features, bad attitude?” Taehyung chuckled when he was shoved threateningly. “Anyways, our design class just ended and we’re heading towards—”

            “Go to the parking lot. Don’t come to the cafeteria.” Jungkook’s voice was urgent as he interrupted him, a lot of the noise on the other side of the phone telling Taehyung he was shifting the phone to his other hand as he moved quickly. “Okay hyung? Just go to the parking lot. We’re getting lunch off campus, okay?”

            “Sure, Kookie.”

            “Are you heading towards the parking lot?”

            “Yeah, I am. Chill out. See you in a few minutes.”

            “Okay, but hyung you—” Taehyung clicked the end button before slipping his phone in his pocket, and grinning at Kibum.

            “Everything okay?” He asked, eyebrow raised. Taehyung made a vague gesture with his hand, brushing him off.

            “Yeah, I’m suddenly starving. You want to go to the cafeteria with me?” Taehyung asked, turning in the direction of the school’s cafeteria, lengthening his stride just enough to make the other boy have to pick up the pace to keep up.

            “What’s the rush?” Kibum asked, sounding put out at the sudden pace.

            “Oh, nothing really, Jungkook just told me not to go to the cafeteria. So obviously that’s where I need to go.” His phone was buzzing in his pocket but he ignored it as they rounded the tree lined corridor, the commons coming into view. The area was littered with tables filled with students eating, lounging, and chatting, a series of small steps leading up into the indoor cafeteria and food stations. It was busy and Taehyung glanced around curiously, looking for whatever Jungkook hadn’t wanted him to see. Nothing seemed amiss, and when Taehyung glanced to his left, he saw a frustrated Jungkook making his way through the crowd towards him. “Oops.” Taehyung waggled his fingers playfully at the younger boy before turning to Kibum. “Nice seeing you, but I have some sleuthing to do. Distract Kookie, will you?” Kibum stumbled a little as Taehyung patted him on the back hard in farewell before turning and hurrying through the crowds of people with a laugh.

            Taehyung gawked openly around him as he looked around curiously, smiling politely at strangers when their gazes would connect before moving on, eyes roving intently. He was halfway towards the stairs when he was intercepted. Blinking in surprise, he smiled awkwardly at the tall guy in front of him, raising an eyebrow curiously as the other boy beamed at him. “Uh, hi?”

            “Hi. I saw you wandering the crowd and thought you looked a little lost and in need of a friend. I’m Jaewoo. What’s your name?” He stuck his hand out and Taehyung shook it on instinct, eyes still wandering.

            “Taehyung. Listen, I need to go, I’m looking for something.” Taehyung smiled politely and made a move to pass him when Jaewoo stopped him with a hand on his arm.

            “Okay, you’re busy. I get it. So, why don’t you give me your number and we can get together some other time when you aren’t busy?” Taehyung glanced up in shock, eyes wide and search momentarily paused as he met warm eyes. “What do you say?”

            Taehyung looked him over critically, eyes skimming his face. Jaewoo wasn’t terrible to look at, quite handsome actually, with his big eyes and soft looking hair. He was taller than Taehyung and clad in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, clearly laid back and friendly. Confident, even. But Taehyung found himself smiling ruefully just as Jungkook caught up with him, panting hard. “Sorry Jaewoo, you seem nice but I’ve got a boyfriend actually. Thanks though. My friend’s here now, so I’ll see you around.” Taehyung waved at the stunned boy before grabbing Jungkook by his shirt and tugging him after him.

            “Hyung, what the hell?” Jungkook was out of breath and annoyed as he punched Taehyung’s shoulder, the older boy releasing him with a soft laugh. “I told you not to come to here, you said you were on your way to the parking lot!”

            “I lied.”

            “Obviously.” Jungkook rolled his eyes and steered Taehyung through the tables as he spoke. “And what the hell was that? Did he ask you out?”

            “He wanted my phone number, yeah.”

            “And you said no?”

            “Obviously.” Taehyung scoffed, glancing around them. Jungkook huffed lightly and shoved him.

            “But hyung, he was handsome!”

            “So?”

            Jungkook made a frustrated sound and threw his hands in the air. “Hyung. You know what my point is. Why didn’t you go for it?”

            “He’s not my type.” Taehyung replied lightly, shrugging and ignoring the look Jungkook sent him.

            “It’s the start of a new school year.”

            “I’ll take unrelated topics for five hundred, Alex.”

            “Hyung!”

            Taehyung stopped walking and finally looked Jungkook in the eyes, crossing his arms. “Spit it out Kook-ah, what do you want to say? Just say it and get it over with.”

            “It’s been a long time since you dated. Don’t you think it’s time to get back out there?” Jungkook’s tone was gentle as his hands slid in his pockets, glancing around them cautiously as if on edge. Taehyung’s brow furrowed and he followed the motion.

            “I’m not interested in dating, Kookie. Besides, I’m in a committed relationship.” Taehyung shrugged, smiling a little at Jungkook’s incredulous look as he started walking again.

            “With who? Your right hand?”

            Taehyung threw his head back on a laugh, the sound echoing across the commons and drawing stares. “No, my left. The right doesn’t know about the sordid affair though, so keep it down.” He teased playfully, grinning at Jungkook’s disgust before his face straightened out to something more serious. “Jimin and I never broke up officially.”

            Jungkook looked shocked and a little worried, his hand coming up to rest on Taehyung’s shoulder in comfort. “Hyung. . . that’s not. . .”

            “I know.” Taehyung smiled ruefully, patting the hand on his shoulder. “I’m kidding. I’m just not really interested in dating right now. I just want to. . .” Taehyung’s gaze was roving the tables again when a flash of light blonde hair caught his eyes, his sentence trailing off. The blonde was staring at a device in his hands, short fingers moving rapidly over the screen as he strode away from Jungkook and Taehyung. The blue haired boys’ eyes roved him from the top of his head all the way down slender legs, heart skipping a beat as his gaze rested on the boy’s absolutely perfect ass, whistling lowly under his breath. “. . . go up and introduce myself to him, holy shit. I didn’t know blondes were my type.” Taehyung finished, ignoring Jungkook’s surprised cry as he moved forwards quickly, nearly jogging to catch up as the blonde rounded a corner.

            “Wait, hyung! Stop!”

            He disregarded Jungkook’s shout as he followed the blonde, skidding around the corner with a boxy smile on display as he reached out and lightly tapped the boy on his shoulder. “Hey!” He said quickly, not noticing the blonde suddenly stiffening as he stopped walking. “I’m new on campus, it’s my first day, and I just thought—”

            Jungkook rounded the corner with wide eyes just as the blonde slowly turned. Taehyung’s eyes widened in understanding as his mouth fell open, his smile slowly fading as he looked into familiar dark eyes with shock. The boy stared back at him, just as shocked if his pale face was anything to go by, biting down hard on a plush lip as Taehyung took an involuntary step backwards before the name left his mouth on a gasp.

            “Jimin!”

            The blonde took a quick step back too, ringed fingers coming up to run nervously through his light locks, Taehyung’s eyes immediately tracking the movement, drinking it in as his gaze moved down to rove over Jimin’s face. Jungkook’s hands were on his shoulders then, tightening as the younger boy leaned in and hissed, “This is why I said not to go to the cafeteria! I told you to meet me in the parking lot, we could have avoided this!”

            “Why would I want to avoid it?” Taehyung replied, not bothering to be quiet. “I’ve been wanting to see Jimin-ah again, haven’t I? No better time than the present.”

            Jimin fidgeted, his cheeks pinking and honestly it wasn’t fair how good he looked. His cheeks were a little less full, his jaw having sharpened more since senior year of high school. He was still lean and small, his hands adorably small where they clutched his books and phone to his chest (Taehyung noted the phone was the same one he’d had a year ago). He looked good, a jean jacket over a white t-shirt, his black jeans just as tight as always and tucked into heeled boots. Taehyung thought he might have gotten another ear piercing, the jewelry glittery and distracting as his eyes roved over his carefully made up face. He was stunning and Taehyung felt his dusty heart lurch in response.

            “Hi Jimin-ah.” Taehyung’s voice was lower than it had been a year ago, deep and rumbly as he smiled at the shorter boy, pleased to discover he was still taller than the other boy. “How have you been? I hope you’ve been well.” The blonde seemed too stunned to reply, fingers fidgeting around his phone as he glanced to Jungkook, though his gaze kept coming back to Taehyung. “You must have been trying out for the dance team too, I’m guessing. I’m sure you’ll get in; they’d be stupid not to pick you.” Taehyung’s voice trailed off and he glanced away for a moment. “You look good—no, that’s a lie. You look amazing.” He offered with a boxy smile, his cheeks pinking at the look of shock on Jimin’s face. “The blonde, uh, it’s a good look on you. Makes you look more angelic than normal. I’m not sure how that’s even possible.” He laughed softly before going silent once again, the awkwardness of the situation making his skin crawl as he glanced back at Jungkook.

            The younger boy was silent, his hurt gaze on the ground and his jaw working. Taehyung patted his hands in comfort, drawing in a shaky breath before slowly taking another step back. Jimin startled at the movement, meeting Taehyung’s gaze with wide eyes. “I. . . can see that I’m making you uncomfortable. So, I’ll. . . I’ll just get going, leave you be. Well, um, it was nice seeing you, Jiminie—ah, Jimin-ssi. Sorry.” Taehyung could feel his sinuses burning and his eyes prickling but he smiled through it, grabbing Jungkook’s bicep and tugging him after him. “Um, see you around.”

            Jimin was silent and unmoving as Taehyung pulled Jungkook down the sidewalk at a rapid pace, taking a few random turns until the blonde was out of sight and earshot. Nausea rose in his stomach and he released Jungkook quickly, nearly sprinting to a patch of bushes just as his breakfast came up. Jungkook was there suddenly, brushing his long bangs back as his stomach heaved again, his hands on his knees as he vomited. It was a long few moments before Taehyung’s stomach stopped turning and he was gasping for breath, the back of his shaking hand coming up to cover his mouth. He didn’t realize tears were running down his cheeks until Jungkook offered him a creased napkin. “Fuck. Damn it.” He took the napkin and wiped his face and mouth, grimacing at the taste as he squatted.

            “I’m sorry, hyung, I tried to. . .” Jungkook trailed off helplessly, eyes sad as Taehyung glanced up at him.

            “Kook, can you go get me some water or something? I’m gonna sit here until I stop feeling like I’m going to puke again.” Jungkook nodded and took off, lifting his phone as he ran. Taehyung fell back onto his ass, placing his elbows on his knees and covering his face as more tears slid down his cheeks. “Fuck.” He muttered, shaking his head lightly as his stomach rolled, choking back a cry. “Fuck.”

            The only sound around him for a bit was the fall wind rustling the leaves and fluttering between the buildings, the cool air feeling good on his hot skin. Taehyung ran a hand over the back of his neck, massaging the tendons there just as soft footsteps stopped beside him. He laughed softly. “Sorry Kookie, I tried to get it together before you got back, but this has been a long time coming. I just—” Finally looking up, his voice cracked at the sight of Jimin slowly kneeling beside him, his sentence drying up.

            The blonde gave him a small, nervous smile as he reached into his satchel, pulling out a pack of tissues and hesitantly offering them to Taehyung. The blue haired boy stared at them for a long moment before taking them, nearly dropping them when his skin brushed Jimin’s. “Um, thanks.” The blonde nodded, face pink as he looked away for a moment before taking a deep breath and meeting Taehyung’s gaze again. The younger boy looked away quickly, mopping his face up and blowing his nose before quickly standing and putting space between himself and Jimin, heart racing. “You. . . weren’t meant to see that. I thought I got far enough away to prevent this from happening in the most awkward way possible.” Taehyung gestured between them; eyes locked on the ground. “Sorry, I’m just gonna go.” He paused and risked a look up, holding out the rest of the unused tissues and making sure not to make eye contact as he offered a smile. “Here, thanks.”

            Jimin made no move to take the tissues back, eyes locked on Taehyung’s face searchingly and the blue haired boy flushed under the attention, running a hand through his hair roughly. After a few moments Taehyung made a soft sound of frustration, taking a step forward and reaching out to gently grasp Jimin’s small wrist in one hand, placing the package of tissues in it before closing his fingers over it and letting go. He ignored the way his skin tingled and turned on his heel to leave, freezing in place when a small hand grabbed onto his wrist. He closed his eyes and counted to ten in his head before turning his head just enough to glance back at the smaller boy. Jimin was staring up at him, blonde bangs fluttering down into his eyes as he bit his lip contemplatively.

            “Jimin-ssi—”

            “Taehyung-ah.” The voice was soft and lilting, sweet like honey and bright as if sunshine dripped from the words he spoke. Taehyung’s eyes slammed closed as a chill ran down his spine, his hand trembling at the sound of his name from those plush lips, spoken like a prayer Taehyung had only ever imagined in his dreams. “Taetae.” Taehyung’s eyes widened as Jimin spoke the nickname oh so softly, the word like a warm caress across Taehyung’s heart, his gaze immediately connecting with warm brown eyes.

            The soft utterances had Taehyung spinning, his mind a mess as his breath caught and he nearly stumbled, unable to look away from the blonde boy. Jimin’s cheeks were pink as he took a small step forward, his eyes shining and his hand sliding down Taehyung’s wrist to gently clasp his large hand in between two smaller ones. Taehyung could feel the unfamiliar familiar cool bite of metal as Jimin’s rings brushed along his skin, his breath shuddering out of him as Jimin’s gaze broke from his. The blonde lifted Taehyung’s hand, his fingers brushing over the ring around his middle finger before he was looking up with surprise, his gaze questioning and fond. Taehyung swallowed hard, heart pounding so hard he was seeing spots and he shook his head lightly even as he stayed silent. Jimin’s full lips curled up in a shy smile before he was looking down at the ring again, running his thumbs across it as he swayed a bit closer. At the feel of his body heat, the brush of silky hair against his shoulder, the feel of warm skin against his, the familiar smell of citrus cologne, it all became way too much. Taehyung abruptly panicked.

            “I-I have to go!” He suddenly said, startling the older boy as he ripped his hand from the blonde’s grasp, turning on his heel and taking off towards where Jungkook had headed, his vision blurring as he ran. He heard the soft sound of surprise behind him as he left Jimin behind but he pushed it out of his mind, running until he reached a more central area, nearly bowling Jungkook and Hoseok over as he turned the corner. They barely managed to stay upright and Taehyung made an apologetic noise as they shouted out in surprise before bolting past them. It wasn’t until he reached the parking lot and ended up outside Seokjin’s car that he finally stopped running, his breathing labored and sharp.

            “Taehyung-ah?” Namjoon unrolled the window in concern, eyeing the sweating and pale boy in shock. “Tae, are you okay?”

            “Taehyung!” Jungkook shouted, the younger boy and Hoseok coming into view as they finally caught up, not nearly as out of breath thanks to their dance training. They stopped, panting beside Taehyung as the older boys got out of the car, eyeing him with concern, Jungkook taking a step forward to offer the water bottle. “Hyung, are you—”

            “One sec.” Taehyung replied faintly, turning around and hurling straight on the concrete. Hoseok gagged and turned away, covering his ears with an apology squeaked out, Seokjin and Namjoon making sounds of concern as the bespectacled boy opened the car door to search for napkins. Jungkook just held his hair back again with a wince, Seokjin rubbing his back as he emptied his stomach a final time before standing back up, breath stuttering in his chest. “Shit, sorry, sorry.” He took the offered napkins and water bottle, rinsing his mouth and spitting the water out before taking a real drink, wiping his mouth carefully before he was turning to face his Hyungs and Jungkook. “I’m good now, I’m fine. Sorry.”

            “What the hell is going on? Are you sick?” Seokjin’s question got a hysterical sounding giggle from the blue haired boy and suddenly Taehyung was laughing, his whole body bowing with the force of it. The other boys eyed him warily, a little terrified, as Taehyung’s hands landed on his knees and his body shook with his deep laughter, tears running down his face as he gasped for air between laughs. “Taehyung? Are you okay?” Seokjin turned to Namjoon, eyes wide. “Should we call someone?”

            “WWYHD—What would Yoongi-hyung do?” Hoseok murmured under his breath, finger tapping his chin before he lit up. He moved in front of Taehyung, motioning for him to look up. When the laughing boy complied, Hoseok brought his hand up and smacked him across the face with a loud crack, the younger boy’s head turning at the force of the slap. The others gaped at Hoseok in shock as Taehyung fell silent, his face moving from amusement to stricken at once.

            “Jimin’s here.” He finally said, twisting the ring on his finger nervously. “Jimin’s here, I saw him. Fuck, I nearly hit on him thinking he was some hot blonde, can you imagine? How stupid would I have looked?”

            “He’s back?” Hoseok whispered, glancing to Jungkook and the younger boy nodded.

            “He was at the tryouts for the freshmen dance team. I tried to warn you, hyung!” Jungkook replied, giving Taehyung an almost angry look. “I explicitly told you not to go to the cafeteria!” The others groaned and hung their heads, Seokjin giving the young brunet a dumbfounded look.

            “And you thought he’d listen?” Seokjin sounded more and more exasperated as he shook his head. “Kookie, you have to use reverse psychology on him! You tell him not to do something, he’s obviously going to do it out of spite! He’s a brat!”

            “I’m right here.” Taehyung protested weakly and the eldest boy just waved him off.

            “I can’t believe he’s here.” Namjoon was subdued as he glanced from his fiancé to Taehyung with worry. “So, you spoke with him?”

            “Kind of, I tried to, I just couldn’t. . . he was looking right at me with those eyes. . . and he just, he looked so good and I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t even think! And then I was running and vomiting, and he was there, offering tissues and being sweet and touching my skin.” Taehyung’s hands were in his hair now, roughly running his hands through blue strands. He glanced around at his friends troubled faces, eyes wide and frantic. “He goes to school here now?” The question was desperate, and he made a wounded sound when Jungkook nodded slowly. “What am I supposed to do with that? What do I do with this information? I just—I can’t—” He trailed off, biting his lip as he shook his head. “What do I do here?” He finally said, voice soft as his shoulders slumped in defeat. “What do I do?”

            “What do you want to do?” Hoseok asked just as softly, stepping forward to gently place a hand on the back of Taehyung’s neck, pulling him into a hug. “It’s okay if you don’t want to do anything, you know.” Taehyung fell heavily against the older boy.

            “I don’t know.”

            “That’s okay too.” Seokjin added quickly, moving forward to throw an arm around Taehyung comfortingly after Hoseok let him go, leading him towards the car. “Let’s just get something good to eat and figure it out later, okay Tae?” The blue haired boy just nodded, mind elsewhere as his friends bundled him into the car and tried to regain some normalcy, Seokjin babbling about the upcoming wedding and Hoseok gushing over his and Jungkook’s dance classes. Taehyung stayed silent in the middle seat, gaze staring unfocused at his hands hanging between his knees, fingers brushing lightly over the ring Jimin had given him so long ago.

            Why was he still wearing it? Taehyung never could answer that question when it came up randomly, whether from his friends, his parents, or even himself. He didn’t have an answer. The ring belonged to the boy who broke his heart, who left him without a word and never looked back. But Taehyung couldn’t bring himself to part with it; in the year or so he’d had it, it had never left his finger. Even when he was angry or so sad he felt as if the world could no longer turn for him, it was there, a grounding reminder of having loved and lost. When Jimin had touched it, looking surprised to see it again, Taehyung had felt like the metal was burning him; though maybe it was just the memory of what once was that did the actual harm.

            Seeing Jimin today had proved one thing to him, a fact he had known but buried as deep as possible just to go on living: he was still so in love with the mute boy.

            Though maybe mute wasn’t the right word anymore, Jimin spoke his name for the first time ever, and it had affected him more than he would have thought. All it took was those words, his nicknames, to nearly have him on his knees in front of the other boy. He was weak, so incredibly weak for Jimin, that much was clear. And it made him angry, scared even. One encounter was enough to shake him to his core, and he knew it wouldn’t take much for his heart to fling itself off the cliff again, no parachute and safety bedamned. And Taehyung was afraid of that, afraid to let himself reach that point again.

            Another thing was clear to him, that he didn’t know Jimin anymore. His Jimin. . . was a mute, ebony haired boy who was too shy to reach out to anyone but Taehyung, who depended on him and cared for him. This Jimin was a blonde haired boy who wore make up to school and was speaking, at least a little bit, and he was clearly much more comfortable with himself. Taehyung was happy about that, hell, he’d throw him a damn party if it meant Jimin wasn’t haunted by his past. But. . . he didn’t know him anymore, and the thought turned his stomach.

            “Honey bear?” His Eomma’s voice had him looking up, blinking blearily around at his family in confusion before settling on his Eomma near the end of the kitchen table. She was worried as she leaned in a bit, head tilting. “Are you okay? You’ve been so quiet since you got home.” Taehyung took in the family dinner and his sibling staring at him, his Appa sending him a curious look and briefly wondered how he’d gotten home.

            “Yeah, I’m fine. Just tired.” He murmured, standing up and lifting his untouched plate of food. “I’m actually not hungry. I’m going to bed.” Without waiting for a response, Taehyung left his plate on the counter and wandered upstairs, mind too preoccupied to hear the whispers behind him. He shut his bedroom door behind him and took a seat at his desk, eyes faraway as he fiddled with his cell phone, spinning it on the desktop.

            When the phone suddenly rang, Taehyung jumped in surprise, the device sliding haphazardly across the desk and nearly falling off the edge, saved only by Taehyung’s perfectly timed lunge. Lifting it to read the display, Taehyung frowned at the unknown caller message and hesitated before answering the call with shaky fingers. “Hello?”

            “Taehyung?” The voice was familiar, though the blue haired boy couldn’t place it.

            “Yeah, who’s this?”

            “Jihyun. Park Jihyun.” The phone filled with dead air, Taehyung too stunned to reply. The sound of someone clearing their throat crackled across the line along with movement, before Jihyun was speaking again. “Um, do you remember me? I’m Jimin’s little—”

            “Yeah, I know who you are.” Taehyung cut him off, swallowing hard and staring a hole at the pictures plastered across the wall in front of him. There were old family photos, candids of him and his friends, and hidden behind a handwritten note, he knew there was a picture of him and Jimin from last November. He shook his head to clear it. “What I’m wondering is how you got my number?”

            “I stole it out of Jimin-hyung’s phone.”

            Taehyung took a moment to digest this information; Jimin still had his number after all this time and hadn’t reached out once. “Okay.”

            “I know this seems out of the blue, but can you meet me somewhere? Tonight?”

            “I don’t. . . know if that’s such a good idea.”

            “Please, hyung?” Jihyun pleaded, and Taehyung closed his eyes, letting his head fall back. “I just want to talk to you.”

            “What is there to talk about Jihyun? I mean, what could you possibly have to say after nearly a year of radio silence?”

            “Just meet me. Please.”

            Taehyung was silent for a long few moments, sitting forward to slowly move the note aside and reveal the picture of him and Jimin. It was from a Saturday movie night a long time ago; Taehyung remembered it fondly, the way Jimin had clung to him all cold and soft, his nose pressing against Taehyung’s skin. If he closed his eyes now, he could still smell his citrus cologne and feel the weight of Jimin leaning into him, hear the laughter of their Hyungs as they were teased. He huffed out a sigh. “Fine. When and where.”

            “Thank you! How about that park not too far from the high school? And does now work?”

            “Okay, I’ll be there soon.” And without saying goodbye, he cut the line.

            What the hell was his life?

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

            Taehyung’s feet dragged through the pebbles as he swung slowly, fiddling with the keys to his hunter green truck as he waited for Jihyun to arrive, eyes on the rocks as they cascaded over each other. It wasn’t too late yet, though the stars and moon were out, and the sky was dark, a cool breeze blowing through the air wiping away the heat of midday. This was Taehyung’s favorite time of day, when he felt most at peace, the night sky a comforting velour blanket.

            He heard footsteps coming up from behind him and sighed, eyes falling closed and not bothering to stand to greet the younger boy. “About time you got here, I was starting to think you’d stood me up.”

            “Sorry for the wait.” The voice was soft and significantly higher, a silky and sweet tenor that had chills running down his spine. For a moment, Taehyung wished the ground would swallow him whole, his fingers trembling minutely on the swing’s chains as he took a slow breath. The footsteps got closer, moving around the playset to take a seat on the swing beside him, the person’s knees angled towards him, though his legs dangled a bit from the height (Taehyung felt his lips twitch at the sight). “Thanks for coming to meet me.”

            Taehyung took a deep breath before replying, the others voice running distractingly over his skin like velvet. “To be fair, I thought I was meeting Jihyun. I had no idea he was tricking me; I’ve lost my touch.” He laughed humorlessly, eyes fixed on his feet as his swing swayed back and forth slowly.

            “I’m sorry for tricking you. I just. . . didn’t know if you’d meet me if I asked.” Jimin said quietly, and Taehyung could feel the blonde’s eyes boring into his skull as he spoke, as if urging Taehyung to look up. When Taehyung didn’t look up or reply, Jimin sighed softly and shifted on the swing. “I. . . I didn’t expect to see you at the school. I thought you would be taking a year off, pursuing art?”

            Taehyung swallowed the bitterness that rose in his throat at the statement, fingers tightening on the chain links. “Time passed; things changed.” There was a tightness in his chest and the world around him felt surreal. It was weird, being here at the park near their old school, together, with Jimin speaking to him; it didn’t feel real, nothing about this felt like real life. Taehyung closed his eyes again, taking a slow breath as his brain threatened to dissociate from his surroundings.

            Jimin didn’t reply for a moment, and Taehyung could hear him fidgeting in his seat, the chains loud in the quiet of the night. His anxiety prickled the longer the blonde was silent, twisting the ring on his middle finger subconsciously as he waited, patience dwindling. It was a relief then, when Jimin finally spoke again. “I feel like we have some things to talk about.” He stated, about to continue when Taehyung started to giggle. Taehyung could feel his shocked stare as he clapped a hand over his mouth as the giggles grew louder, his shoulders shaking with mirth. The blue haired boy fought it for a few moments before he couldn’t help himself, throwing his head back and laughing brazenly even as he could feel Jimin’s unease rising.

            He nearly hiccupped as he caught his breath, still chuckling as he wiped his watering eyes, turning to look at Jimin for the first time since he sat down, lips turned up in a smile still. “That’s the understatement of the century, Jesus.” He laughed lightly again, shaking his head as he faced forward again, his gaze returning to his feet.

            “I know. . . what I did wasn’t cool. And I wanted to say I’m sorry, Taehyung.” The sound of his name sent a jolt through his body and he was thankful he was sitting down. “I shouldn’t have done that. I’m really sorry.” Jimin paused there, and Taehyung waited for him to continue. It was maybe two minutes before Taehyung realized that he was done, that that was it, and suddenly Taehyung was standing, towering over the small blonde. He was staring at him with wide, disbelieving eyes and Jimin looked surprised, a hand coming up to rest over his heart as if startled.

            “Wait, you’re kidding right? That’s it?” Taehyung asked incredulously, gesturing to Jimin. The blonde didn’t reply, too flabbergasted to speak as Taehyung laughed suddenly, the sound colder than it had been previously. “This has to be a fucking joke Jimin.” He turned on his heel and stalked towards his truck, muttering under his breath as he fumbled for his keys, cursing when his shaking hands dropped them. He was halfway there when Jimin was suddenly in front of him, his hands up as if to stop him.

            “Wait, Taehyung, please don’t go yet. I just want—”

            “What?” Taehyung interrupted him, taking a step back to put space between them, throwing his hands up in the air. “What do you want Jimin? Really? What could you possible want with me?”

            “Taehyung—”

            “No, you show up here after all this time acting like nothing changed to give me that shitty excuse for an apology? Unbelievable.” Taehyung ran a hand roughly through his aqua locks, laughing to himself.

            “I know how you must feel right now but—”

            “No! You don’t know how I feel! How could you possibly know Jimin? You’re the one who left! You just disappeared! Without a word! No good bye, not a single phone call or text, not even a fucking smoke signal! Nothing! You ghosted so hard you changed your number and literal place of residence. Then you just show up, almost a year later to say ‘Sorry Tae, my bad’ and expect it to be okay?” Taehyung took a deep breath, lowering his slowly raising voice. “You’re here now, looking at me like I’m psycho, but damn it Jimin. Do you have any idea what it does to me to see you in front of me, looking like that and fucking talking? Do you even have the faintest idea what that’s like? That after everything, this is the first traditional conversation we’ve ever had? And I’m supposed to just brush all that off?”

            Jimin’s eyes were glassy now, his lip trembling as he raised his hands to cover his mouth slowly; Taehyung closed his eyes to rid himself of the sight, his heart aching. “I never meant to hurt you. I didn’t think—”

            “You’re right, you didn’t think about anyone but yourself.” Taehyung shook his head, eyes hard as they opened to look down at the blonde. “I’m glad that you seem to be doing better but. . . I can’t do this right now. I’m leaving, I need—” He cut himself off, emotions swirling as he made to move around Jimin, letting out a frustrated sound as the blonde moved to block him again. “Damn it Jimin, move, please!”

            “Give me a second to explain! I need to explain to you why—”

            “You abandoned me!” Taehyung’s voice rang loudly across the park, crows taking off as the noise bounced off the trees, startling the blonde haired boy. Jimin had been shocked into silence, face pale and eyes wide. “You. . . you just. . . left me here, all alone. You came into my life and forced your way into everything. My classes, my friend group, my heart. And then you were gone the moment things got hard, you just skipped town, not caring that you were leaving me here with a Jimin sized hole in my chest.” Taehyung slapped his hand over his heart, the edges blistering and aching as he spoke. “And you didn’t look back once. Like an idiot, I waited for you! I waited for you to turn around, to come back, to send me a fucking text or anything that told me I was as important to you as you are to me! But you gave me nothing. I was a zombie for months.” His chest was heaving and to his horror he felt tears in his eyes, trembling there on his eyelashes before slowly trickling down his cheeks. “It was so easy for you to leave me behind and ignore the wreckage in your wake. Why was it so easy for you to walk away when all I wanted to do was chase you?”

            Jimin took a small step forward, tears running down his own face as he reached out tenderly, his palms outstretched. “Taetae—”

            “Stop saying my name!” This time Taehyung was shouting even as his voice broke on a sob. “You’re killing me Jimin, you’re honest to god killing me. I can’t handle hearing you say my name. I’m not that strong, I’m too fractured for this.” Taehyung shook his head violently as he quickly side stepped the blonde and nearly sprinted to his truck, dropping the keys twice in his haste to unlock his doors, breaking down the moment he was able to slide into the driver’s seat. Everything in him was begging to cease existing right then and there, begging to just disappear as he ugly sobbed and fumbled with his phone, starting his truck as the phone rang. He didn’t dare look back as he sped out of the parking lot, sobs renewed as his phone clicked when the other line picked up.

            “Hyung?” Jungkook’s voice was surprised, the sounds of Overwatch in the background as keys were clicked. Taehyung’s soft sob was enough for the younger boy to realize things were serious. “Hyungie, where are you?”

            “I’m coming over.”

            “I’ll be here. Drive safe.”

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

            “He tricked you? What the actual fuck?” Jungkook was enraged as he ran his hands through Taehyung’s hair from where the older boys head was in his lap, tears running down his face silently after retelling what had happened at the park. “What the hell is he thinking? This doesn’t sound like. . . has he been body snatched? You should give Jihyun a piece of your mind! You don’t deserve this, hyung!” Jungkook sounded close to tears himself as he handed the older boy a tissue, Taehyung taking it as he stared listlessly at the muted TV screen.

            When had his life became that, like the old, worn out TV? Flickering with light but interspersed with fuzzy grey and dark black bleeding through. The sound either too loud or muted, rarely an in between to give him a break. He missed the vibrancy, the excitement. He was so tired of the complacency he’d fallen into, a state of ‘okay’ he couldn’t escape or transcend. He was just so tired.

            “Hyung, want me to tell him to back off?” Jungkook’s voice was gentle and Taehyung’s eyes fell closed as the younger boy stroked his hair carefully. “Want me to tell him to leave you alone?” The brunet waited patiently for a reply, the sound of their breathing the only thing in the room besides the darkness behind his eyes.

            Taehyung simply shook his head, heart already aching. He was a weak man.

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

            When Taehyung awoke the next morning, stretched out on the dingy couch in Jungkook’s basement, he made a decision: No more complacency.

            He leapt to his feet, heart racing as he walked over to where Jungkook was stretched out across his bed, slumbering peacefully, unaware as Taehyung picked up his water bottle. The blue haired boy took a long pull from it before swallowing with a soft, refreshed sound, grinning as he upturned the rest of the bottle over Jungkook’s sleeping face.

            The response was instantaneous, Jungkook woke with a start, spluttering as he wiped at his soaked face, lashing out with a cry. Taehyung just laughed wickedly, dancing out of reach as the brunet blinked bleary eyes open into a hard glare. “What the fuck, hyung?! What’s wrong with you?”

            “Wakey, wakey Kookie! It’s morning; time to get ready for a brand new day filled with endless possibilities for us to uncover! What an adventure!” Taehyung nearly sang as he avoided the younger boy’s smacking hands and headed to the stairs, whistling cheerfully.

            “The fuck? Who are you?” Jungkook sounded confused, lost, and a little annoyed as Taehyung just laughed.

            “Get ready for school, loser. I’ll be back to pick you up in forty five minutes. Today’s not the day to be late!” Taehyung called as the door shut behind him. He hurried home, humming along to the radio under his breath and calling a cheery hello to his family as he bounded upstairs. He took a quick shower, taking time to carefully style his hair with his straightener, going for a feathered look with his bangs parted and swopping back to show off his forehead. He went and got changed, sliding on a white linen button down that made his caramel skin glow, rolling the cuffs up and leaving the top two buttons undone to show off his green pendant necklace. Taehyung slid on his tightest pair of blue jeans, the ones that hugged his body almost obscenely and made his legs look miles long (it might be a little warm for jeans, but Taehyung would go down with his look). He slipped on a few more rings, some big with blue gemstones, another band bright white to clash with the metal on his middle finger. His ears were adorned with white rose earrings in the first hole, simple hoops in the second piercing and simple silver bracelets to finish the look.

            Taehyung stared at himself in the mirror after spraying a little cologne on, studying his figure before sighing and going to knock on Eonjin’s door. “Eonjin-ah, do you have a second?” There was noise behind the door before his little sister opened the door, scanning him up and down with wide eyes. He shot her a boxy smile. “Help me?”

            “With what, Oppa?” She asked hesitantly, stepping back to allow him in. He took a seat at her desk, spinning around in the chair before stopping to face her.

            “Make me pretty.” He motioned to her makeup kit on the dresser, ignoring her dumbstruck look. “Nothing too fancy, just line my eyes, maybe a little shadow at the edges to define them, a lip tint maybe. You know, just. . . enhance.” He gestured to his face with a grin. “Please?” She stared at him for a long moment before tossing her dark hair over her shoulders with a sigh.

            “Fine. Sit up straight.” Eonjin gathered her kit and stood in front of him. They were silent for a while, other than Eonjin’s various commands, the light drags of makeup brushes around his closed eyes soothing. He stayed still and lulled by the silence as she worked. It was as she instructed him to look up, carefully lining his eyes with the eye liner pencil, that she spoke beyond the orders. “Are you okay, Oppa?” Her voice was soft as she set aside the eye liner and lifted her eyeshadow palette. He closed his eyes and felt the gentle dusting above his lashes.

            “I’m fine.” He replied quietly, smiling a little despite himself. “Or, I’m going to be.”

            Eonjin was quiet for a moment before speaking up again. “I don’t like to see you sad. I don’t know who all this is for—” He opened his eyes to see her gesturing to him with a small smile, selecting a coral lip tint. “—but I hope they deserve you.” She dragged the brush along his lips, blending carefully before stepping back with a wink.

            Taehyung gave her his boxy smile before glancing in the mirror. His eyes were lined thinly, the grey shadow accentuating the dark blue lenses he had slipped in after his shower, making his eyes look big and mesmerizing. She’d gone at him with a mascara wand too, darkening and lengthening the lashes until they looked full, his gaze smoldering. The lip tint was a good color on him, bringing out his skin’s inner glow and he couldn’t help but laugh with delight. “Damn, I look hot. Thanks, Eonjinnie.” He stood and blew her a kiss as he left. “You’re the best!”

            He skipped out on breakfast, hopping in his truck and heading back to Jungkook’s, honking impatiently when he reached the driveway. He was singing along with the radio when the younger boy finally opened the truck door, his disgruntled expression turning to one filled with shock. “What the fuck?” Jungkook exclaimed, pulling out his phone and snapping a picture as Taehyung grinned at him and shot him a finger gun, winking for the camera before pulling a stupid face that had Jungkook cracking up as he slid into the passenger seat. “Holy shit, dude. Seriously?”

            “I have no idea what you’re referring to.” Taehyung replied primly, grinning as his phone lit up, signaling Jungkook had sent the photos in the group chat. “All I did was shower and change.”

            “Is that make up? And your date cologne?”

            “No comment.”

            “What’s all this about?”

            “If you have any further questions, please refer to my publicist. I won’t be holding a press conference at this time.” Taehyung could feel the deadpan look Jungkook was giving him, and he couldn’t help but smile. “What?”

            “You’re chipper.”

            “New day, new me.”

            “You disgust me.”

            “I live to please.”

            They squabbled good naturedly back and forth as Taehyung got them to the campus, pulling into a parking space and sliding out. He snagged his backpack out of the backseat as he whistled, moving around the truck to throw his arm around Jungkook’s shoulders and steer him towards the coffee shop. They got drinks and found a seat, chatting as they waited for their older friends to arrive. Jungkook had just taken a drink of his Americano when he choked, covering his mouth as he swallowed and coughed. “Oh shit.”

            “Drink much?” Taehyung raised a dark eyebrow at the younger boy, glancing over his shoulder to the door to see what had made the brunet choke, his eyes widening. Hoseok stood near the door with Namjoon, his expression fierce as he gave the blonde in front of him a hard look. The blonde seemed to shrink into himself, hands up as he spoke rapidly, Namjoon looking vaguely uncomfortable as he looked anywhere but at the boy. Taehyung sighed and hung his head for a moment before rising, making a motion for Jungkook to stay put as he ambled over, his hands sliding in his pockets as he stopped beside Jimin. The blonde glanced up and his breath caught.

            “You really should just go, he needs—Taehyung!” Hoseok’s voice was pitched higher than normal as he met the blue haired boys gaze, eyes widening frantically as he glanced at the smaller boy in front of him.

            “Hobi-hyung.” Taehyung greeted, lifting his hand to wave at Namjoon as he smiled. “What’s up? Am I interrupting something?” He raised an eyebrow at the older boy who turned a little pink as he turned to Namjoon pleadingly.

            “Um, we were just saying hi.” Namjoon gestured vaguely towards Jimin. Taehyung turned to meet Jimin’s wide gaze, lips twitching as he took in the way the blonde scanned him from head to toe rapidly, double taking at his face.

            “Oh, that’s it? Gotcha. I was just wondering because from over there it looked a little heated.” He gestured to where Jungkook was openly gawking. “Thought I’d come over and see if I could help with anything, but if you’ve got it under control, then I’ll see you over there after you grab drinks?” He smiled winningly, noting the look Hoseok sent him as they realized they’d been dismissed, Namjoon eyeing him with concern as they moved to get in line and left Taehyung with Jimin. The blue haired boy blew out a sigh and lifted a hand to run through his hair, pausing at the last moment and letting his hand drop before turning to meet Jimin’s gaze. The blonde was staring up at him, biting his lip, a light flush across his cheeks as he seemed to study the younger boy. “Sorry about that, they mean well.”

            “I know.” Jimin replied and Taehyung wasn’t as prepared as he had hoped for that honied voice. “They care about you.” He sounded a little wistful as he glanced over at their Hyungs, his eyebrows pulling down with his frown.

            “Yeah, they’re the best.” Taehyung lifted a shoulder and let it drop, making a face at where Jungkook was glowering at them from the table, Hoseok and Namjoon sitting down and glancing over curiously. He rolled his eyes and turned to Jimin, taking a quick half step back as he realized how close the blonde was. “Uh, I should get back. I’ll tell them to lay off.” He sent Jimin a small smile before making to leave.

            “Wait, Taehy—um, please hold on a second!” There was a vulnerability in Jimin’s voice that gave Taehyung pause, and against his better judgement, he turned around to eye him warily. The blonde was digging through his bag, glancing up to make sure Taehyung was still there as he searched. “I feel terrible about last night. About a lot of things actually, and I would really like a chance to. . . explain my idiocy and. . .” He paused in his ministrations, running a hand through his soft blonde hair in frustration, glancing up at the blue haired boy. “I don’t know really, I just. . . I miss you. And maybe that’s not fair of me to say, maybe I have no right, but I’d really like a chance to catch up, if you want to?” Finding a purple sticky note pad and pen, Jimin quickly scribbled a number across it, capping the pen and holding the note out to Taehyung. “Here’s my number. I, um, understand if you need time to think about it, or if you end up not wanting to talk at all. But all I’m asking is that you consider it, please.”

            Taehyung stared dumbly at the number, something burning in his chest. He felt frozen, unable to make a move to either take it and pocket it or crumple it up and throw it back in Jimin’s face. He didn’t know what he wanted to do, his limbs locked. Jimin seemed to sense the hesitation, biting his lip before folding the note up and taking a step forward into Taehyung’s space, carefully sliding the purple note into the pocket of Taehyung’s button down. His eyes never left Taehyung’s as he lingered there for a moment, and the blue haired boy had to fight the urge to rest a hand on a slender waist or brush a blonde lock out of dark eyes. He was thankful when Jimin finally stepped back, the spell seemingly breaking as he walked backwards with a shy smile on his face.

            “Think about it, okay? Oh and. . . you look ridiculously beautiful.” Jimin called before finally turning and walking out of the café with a flush, the door jingling shut behind him as he disappeared. Taehyung stood frozen for a few moments more, mind foggy before he shook his head to clear it, wandering back over to the table with much less grace then he had left it.

            “What was that about? Are you okay?” Jungkook immediately asked, eyes still on the door Jimin had left through.

            “Uh.” Taehyung grunted, falling into his seat and staring off into space.

            “Oh no. He’s got that look on his face.” Hoseok whispered to the other boys, sighing softly. “This isn’t good.”

            “Come on Tae, snap out of it.” Jungkook smacked the older boy across the back of the head, snapping Taehyung back to reality as he blinked owlishly at them. Jungkook gave him a hard look. “Remember last night? Remember how upset you were?”

            “What happened last night?” Namjoon asked, leaning in curiously with a touch of concern. Hoseok leaned in too, their gazes moving to Jungkook when the blue haired boy didn’t reply right away.

            “Taehyung-hyung got a call from Jihyun asking him to meet him at the park. Lo’ and behold, guess who showed up instead?” Hoseok gasped, rather dramatically in Taehyung’s humble opinion, and Jungkook continued. “Tae gave him a what for and left him there at the park, showing up at my house last night upset about the whole thing. Jimin had him crying like a baby—”

            “Hey, the tears were very manly.” Taehyung protested quickly, glaring at the brunet. “Shut up. So, I was emotional. Big deal.”

            “I think that’s a fair response.” Namjoon agreed quietly, slowly turning his drink cup. Taehyung almost said something when the drink teetered dangerously but ultimately decided it wasn’t worth the battle. “That explains a lot. He came in here looking for you, actually.”

            “What?” Taehyung’s eyebrows shot up his forehead, eyes widening. “Why would he do that after last night? I basically told him to fuck off.”

            “He said something about needing to talk to you and apologizing, or something.” Hoseok answered, gazing down at his coffee. “To be honest, I didn’t catch most of it. I was distracted.”

            “By his voice, huh?” Taehyung could empathize, biting his lip. “Yeah, that’s something to get used to.”

            “Or not.” Jungkook glared at him, leaning back in his seat. “I’m all for not getting used to Jimin talking. I’m actually all for not getting used to Jimin at all.”

            “Don’t be petty.” Taehyung admonished lightly, ignoring Jungkook’s squawk of protest. “And listen guys, lay off on the ‘stay away from Tae’ stuff, okay? I appreciate you guys being protective, I really do. But I’m going to be fine, I got all my emotional upheaval over with last night, I’m not a basket case anymore. Let me figure this out myself, okay? Pass it along to Jin-hyung and Yoongi-hyung too.” the others begrudgingly agreed, looking none too happy about it, and Taehyung felt a rush of affection warm him.

            The rest of the day proved difficult for Taehyung to focus, his mind in the clouds (or, more importantly, on the little purple note in the pocket over his heart). He spent his classes weighing the pros and cons of entering the number in his phone, of sending a text, of simply reaching out. If he did, he’d be opening himself up to be hurt again; Taehyung wasn’t naïve enough to believe he could keep his feelings from returning with full force. If he reached out and took the hand Jimin was offering, he knew he’d fall harder and faster than the first time, despite his hurt feelings and misgivings. And who knew if Jimin even wanted anything other than a quick talk before disappearing again? Fool him once, shame on you; fool him twice, shame on him.

            Later, in his design class, he could feel Kibum staring holes into the side of his face for the last half hour, his lips twitching as he turned to finally look at him. “I know I’m stunningly attractive hyung, but the incessant staring feels like a bit much.” Taehyung teased, nudging the other boy playfully and laughing when Kibum’s lips curled back in disgust.

            “Gross.”

            “Mean.”

            “Why all. . . this?” Kibum suddenly motioned to his clothes and face, refreshingly getting straight to the point. Taehyung blinked in surprise before shrugging lightly.

            “All what?”

            “You look like you’re ready to seduce an angel to make them fall, or you’re trying to make a pointed stand against an ex.”

            Taehyung chuckled softly under his breath before tilting his head in acknowledgement. “Might be both.”

            “Jimin’s going to school here then.”

            “Yeah.” The teacher dismissed the class at that moment, and they stood to gather their stuff, Kibum uncharacteristically taciturn as they moved as one to the door. Taehyung turned to go when Kibum’s voice stopped him.

            “Give him hell, Tae.” Kibum smirked slightly as he headed the opposite direction, waving over his shoulder as laughter bubbled up from Taehyung’s chest, a fond smile staying on his face even as he made his way out of the building.

            His class had let out early today and Taehyung found himself drifting along campus, wandering through buildings and following flights of stairs. He checked out the campus bookstore and libraries, passing the time until the other’s classes ended, and they could grab lunch. That was how he found himself sitting at a table in the outdoor section of the cafeteria, the umbrella above him shading him from the warm sun as he scrolled through social media on his phone to pass the time. The gentle breeze felt good against his skin and he unbuttoned another button on his shirt to allow more airflow, uncaring that his collarbone was on full display, the tops of sun kissed pecs peeking out. There was a small part of him that was proud to show off his physique now, he’d worked hard on it since winter last year; exercise, while still a terrible activity, was a good way to pass time and he had Jungkook to thank for his new gym routine.

            “Taehyung? Kim Taehyung?”

            At the sound of his name, Taehyung glanced up from where he was slouched in his chair, to peer through his feet resting on the tabletop at the boy on the other side of the table. The boy was slightly shorter than Taehyung, though broader than him around the chest, his brunet hair short and spiky. The blue haired boy’s eyebrow rose in recognition. “Minwoo.”

            “Yeah. Long time no see!” To his surprise, the boy grinned at him and took a seat at the table across from the taller boy, sitting back relaxed in his chair.

            “I suppose graduation was a bit ago.” Taehyung replied slowly, letting his phone drop in his lap. “What’s up?”

            “Oh, I just saw you over here and thought I’d say hello!”

            “Hi.”

            “So how was your summer? I didn’t know you were taking classes here too!”

            Feeling as if he stepped into the twilight zone as Minwoo grinned at him, Taehyung’s eyelashes fluttered as he blinked rapidly. “It was fine. I got a scholarship and didn’t feel like saying nah.”

            “That’s great! My summer was awesome. A couple of the guys from high school—remember Youngsoo and Seoyoon?—we went on this trip to Italy, fucking fantastic food bro, and the sights. Incredible. We stopped by that museum you talked about in high school, what was the name? The one in Florence—”

            “Galleria degli Uffizi.” Taehyung immediately interjected, genuinely interested for a moment. Minwoo’s eyes lit up as he nodded.

            “Yeah, that one! Man, it was the coolest. No wonder you talked about it so much. So, anyways, the trip was great, I loved Italy.”

            “Sounds like it.”

            “Did you do anything crazy or Taehyung-like?”

            The laughter that burst forth was honest and surprised. “’Taehyung-like’? What exactly does that mean?”

            “You know, a little odd, kind of cool, and a whole lot amusing.” Minwoo chuckled, running a hand along his shoulder. Taehyung tracked the movement curiously, wondering why it came off nervous to him. “Classic Taehyung, you know?”

            “I guess so.” He let himself laugh a little, but suddenly he felt weird about this whole situation. “I mostly just spent time outside, worked out, my friends and I went camping. Nothing really exciting. Low key.”

            “Yeah, I noticed. You’re practically buff now.” Minwoo gestured to Taehyung’s chest with a bright laugh, smile big. “What the hell happened to the skinny beanpole in high school?”

            “I guess I grew up?” He phrased it like a question, his laugh a bit falser and a lot more awkward now, eyes straying to his phone. Minwoo followed his gaze and seemed to make a decision, leaning over the table and offering Taehyung his phone nonchalantly.

            “We should hang out. Here, give me your number!”

            Taehyung stared at his outstretched hand for a long moment, mind officially blown. Minwoo saw his hesitation but persisted, though his cheeks were a little pinker. The blue haired boy cleared his throat, letting his feet fall to the ground from the tabletop so he could sit up straighter. “I’m sorry. You want to exchange numbers and hang out, be friends? Am I reading you right?”

            “Well. . .” He was pinker still. “Not exactly?”

            “Then what?” Taehyung was genuinely curious at this point, his eyebrows furrowed in confusion as he glanced over the other boy’s body language. “Get some people together, or party or something?”

            “I was, uh, thinking we could get dinner.”

            “Dinner?”

            “Dinner.”

            “Like, with a group of people?”

            “More like. . . just the two of us.”

            It clicked then, and Taehyung heard his own gasp of shock come out embarrassingly loud and dramatic as he choked on it, coughing exuberantly. Minwoo’s face was beet red as the blue haired boy hacked up a lung, hitting his fist against his chest to clear his throat and make it easier to breathe again, immediately brushing under watering eyes threatening to screw up his contacts. “What? The two of us, dinner? Like a date? Are you asking me out on a date?”

            “Yes?” Minwoo sounded both hesitant and mortified, though the taller boy could hear the hope in it. His eyes couldn’t possibly get any wider, his jaw still hanging open, sure to catch flies any minute now. Minwoo rubbed his neck self-consciously, glancing away for a moment before steeling himself as he met Taehyung’s gaze. “Is it that crazy?”

            “You hate me!”

            “I don’t hate you!”

            “Minwoo, you’ve literally been the bane of my existence since we were kids. You did everything you could to get under my skin whenever possible. Remember that? Remember high school? And every year before that? And now you’re asking me out on a date?” Taehyung knew he was being too loud, but his shock was so great that he couldn’t bring himself to care.

            “I was a dick, I know!” Minwoo groaned as his face fell in his hands. “I just didn’t know how to deal with liking you.”

            “Wait, is this a confession?”

            “What?”

            “Are you confessing to me? Holy shit, this has never happened to me before!” Taehyung quickly straightened his bangs out, adjusting his shirt before sitting up straight, eyes attentive on the embarrassed boy as he clasped his hands together on the table in front of him. “Okay, I’m ready. Proceed.”

            “Wait, what?” Minwoo stared incredulously at him as Taehyung gestured for him to continue, face solemn as he waited. “Are you serious right now?”

            “Deadly.”

            Minwoo huffed out an annoyed breath before shaking his head. “Fine. I like you. I’ve liked you since we were kids and I was too immature to deal with it properly. I’m sorry for being such an ass to you before, I’d really like the chance to take you out to dinner and have you get to know the real me. I’d like to spend time with you.”

            “Wow.”

            “Yeah. So, what do you say?” Minwoo asked, eyes bright and hopeful. “Will you go to dinner with me?”

            “Oh. Oh, no. Sorry. No way.” Minwoo’s face was the picture of shock as Taehyung replied bluntly with a smile. “While I appreciate the sentiment, no thanks. Not for me.”

            “Then. . . then what the hell did you ask me to confess for?!” Minwoo was angry now, the embarrassment coloring his cheeks and neck as the people around them began to whisper, the stockier boy jumping to his feet, his chair clattering to the floor behind him. “Why, if you were just going to say no, you asshole?!”

            “I’ve never had anyone confess to me, wow.” Taehyung shook his head wonderingly, sitting back in his chair and resting his elbows on the chair’s arms, his chin propped up on a fist as he flipped his phone in his other hand. “What an experience. Thanks for that!” His smile was bright and boxy, growing wider as Minwoo seemed to grow angrier.

            “What—how can you just—” Minwoo was shaking his head, his face almost purple with fury, Taehyung noted with interest. “You’re such an asshole! What the fuck is wrong with you?!”

            “That’s what a team of dedicated psychologists are still trying to figure out. Any day now, with luck.”

            “I should. . . I should fucking hit you!”

            “Just not in the face please, can’t risk the money maker.” Taehyung framed his face with his hands, widening his eyes cutely, laughing when the gesture only made the other boy nearly erupt with anger, steam nearly visible from his ears. “It’s my main selling point.”

            “Well, it sure as hell isn’t your personality! You’re nothing but a candy coated asshole!”

            “That’s pretty kinky, can you imagine? A much tastier snack.”

            “You’re such a dick, you seem so nice but you’re just. . . I just confessed I like you, and you can’t stop being a total prick for a second? Why in the hell—”

            “Is there a problem here?” The sugary sweet voice cut through the air like glass and Taehyung felt a tremor rock his body. Minwoo looked shocked and Taehyung just took a breath as a shadow fell over him, the feel of another person’s body heat warming his back. “Oh, Minwoo-ssi, what a surprise!”

            “Jimin?” Minwoo asked, surprised, his gaze darting down to Taehyung before he was looking back up. “What are you—”

            “I think the proper response to a rejected confession is to turn tail and run away, not harass the refuser.” Jimin sounded amused as he laughed, the sound reminding Taehyung of wind chimes, sparkling through the air like champagne and going straight to his head. “That’s low, even for you Minwoo-ssi.”

            “That’s. . . that’s none of your business! This is between Taehyung and I, two single guys just. . . talking. It doesn’t concern you, back off bitch!”

            Jimin tutted playfully, and Taehyung could almost hear his smile. “Doesn’t it though? Anything that concerns Taetae concerns me.” Taehyung nearly passed out when he felt small hands skim over his shoulders to wrap loosely around his neck from behind, one of the hands dipping teasingly within the open neck of the shirt, fingernails trailing lightly over bronzed skin. His breath caught at the drag of skin on skin, biting his lip as Jimin lowered himself to nuzzle affectionately against the side of Taehyung’s head, his nose brushing against the shell of the taller boy’s ear. His soft chuckle, this close, had Taehyung biting back a soft sound of surprise, the assault to his senses too overwhelming that he could feel his brain shutting down and attempting to reboot. “Isn’t that right Taehyung-ah?” He nearly purred, and the blue haired boy could feel Jimin’s lips brushing against his ear as they turned up in a smirk.

            Scratch that, total system failure. Meltdown imminent.

            Minwoo took in the display and paled, his shoulders scrunching up as his hands slid in his pockets, glaring daggers at the two boys. “Whatever, have fun with that asshole. You deserve each other.” With one last dirty look, he stomped off quickly. The moment he disappeared, Jimin slowly drew back, Taehyung’s eyes slamming shut as his hands slid slowly from his skin, his nerves on fire everywhere Jimin touched him. The blonde sank into the seat beside Taehyung, a nervous look on his face.

            “I’m sorry for interrupting. I was walking by on my way to the dance studio to warm up and I saw you before noticing Minwoo. He suddenly jumped up and started yelling, and he just looked like he was about to sock you in your pretty face! I couldn’t just stand there and let it happen, I hope you’re not angry that I intervened! I swear I’m not following you, this was a coincidence, I really meant what I said this morning. Promise.” Jimin finally finished his rushed speech, biting his lip and staring at Taehyung with big eyes. “Are you mad?”

            Taehyung was just looking at him in shock, brain short circuiting as he asked the only thing he could think of at the moment. “Pretty face?”

            Jimin was stunned for a moment, looking at him weirdly before bursting into silvery peals of laughter. His small frame shook, and his torso fell forward against the table at the force of his laughter; Taehyung didn’t even think, his body just reacted and his hand shot out to steady the blonde, an unconscious gesture he had internalized. Jimin’s laughter was like waves of light, containing the radiance of a rainbow and the refreshment of the first snow fall of winter; Taehyung was dizzy listening to it and he gripped the other boy’s arm tighter without meaning to, cutting the laughter off as Jimin looked at him in surprise. He quickly sat back, his hand leaving Jimin’s arm as if burned away, his face uncomfortably red as Jimin’s look of surprised changed into the sweetest smile. “The prettiest.” He replied softly.

            Oh fuck. Taehyung was so screwed.

            “I need to go, I’m gonna be late for practice. But think about this morning, okay?” Jimin stood, pausing and staring at Taehyung consideringly before pulling another purple sticky note from the confines of his bag and scribbling on it. “Here’s my number again, just in case you lost the first one.”

            “I didn’t lose—”

            Jimin ignored the protest, folding the sticky note up before leaning in and taking Taehyung’s large hand in his, tucking the note carefully under the thick band of the ring around his middle finger. Taehyung’s skin tingled as Jimin let him go after squeezing the hand gently, a sweet smile on his face as he stepped away. “There, now you have a backup, just in case. See you later. Think about it!” Jimin waved cheerfully as he hurried off, Taehyung’s eyes falling down to catch a glimpse of his ass as he disappeared into the crowd.

            So, SO screwed.

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

            The next few weeks were busy with school really kicking it into gear for his friends, and Taehyung found himself on campus more and more, using the art studios to work on projects and helping Jungkook study in the library. Since he wasn’t taking any traditional classes, he often found himself with his friends, watching them study for tests or reading through their textbooks with an outsiders interest; Namjoon was buried in philosophy texts for his masters, Hoseok toeing the line of manic and exhausted these days as he juggled his dance practical with dance theory along with being the TA for Jungkook’s hip hop class. Jungkook wasn’t fairing much better, his double major of dance and musical production taking up far more of his time then he had previously thought, leaving Taehyung to hang out with Yoongi or Seokjin if he wanted to be around people only moderately stressed out. Taehyung was bored, his part time job at the animal shelter and art classes only providing minimal entertainment, and he could only handle being around his friends in small doses with their current levels of stress induced mania. So, he was bored.

            A bored Taehyung was never a good thing.

            Being bored had always led to trouble for him in the past. When he was seven years old, he’d been bored one summer and convinced himself that the squirrel living in the tree next to his bedroom was pet material; that was how he broke his arm falling from the tree as he tried to climb it. In middle school, school became too monotonous and he tried to create his own language; it took until high school for people to stop calling him an alien and for the teasing to finally end. At one point he’d even tried the girls uniform in freshmen year, simply because the male uniform felt stifling after all those years; while it was true that skirts were far more comfortable then dress pants, shaving was a bitch. So, a bored Taehyung almost always spelled trouble for himself and those around him.

It’s how he found himself locked in this game for the past few weeks with Park Jimin.

            It started out innocently enough, the first two sticky notes given to Taehyung the day following Taehyung’s meltdown with the explicit advice to use the number on them after having time to think. The blue haired boy was still undecided that evening, so he’d tucked the notes unopened into his wallet where he resolved to leave them, thinking that’d be the end of it for a while. He felt a little guilty but figured Jimin would understand and back off, giving him time and space to think.

            Jimin, as it turns out, was still a little shit.

            Ever since then Jimin had been popping up randomly at the cafeteria, outside Taehyung’s classrooms, the coffee shop, even once in the art studio, always with a smile and another folded up purple note to give Taehyung. It wouldn’t be so bad if he simply handed the notes over and bid him good bye, but no. Park Jimin was a little shit, so he took these moments to make bold moves. He would slip the note in Taehyung’s shirt pockets if he was wearing a button up, making sure to brush his fingers lightly over his chest as he drew away. Once, Taehyung was wearing a pair of designer glasses and was mid bite into his burger when Jimin appeared out of thin air with a bright smile, tucking a folded note between the temples and his head before running a hand through Taehyung’s hair as he drew back and disappeared without a word. The most memorable one, though, was the time he was leaning his shoulder against the wall outside his classroom with a hand in his pocket, on the phone with his Grandma. His hip was jutting out as he leaned, and the feel of small fingers travelling over the skin just under the hem of his shirt nearly sent him into cardiac arrest. His head had whipped down, wide eyed to see a giggling Jimin standing there, looking cute in a soft pink short sleeved Henley and white beanie pulled over his blonde locks, a pair of glasses with thick black frames perched on his nose sending a wave of nostalgia through Taehyung. The blonde held up a purple note, slipping it into Taehyung’s back pocket with a sly wink and the blue haired boy made a soft sound in surprise when his ass was blatantly groped as Jimin walked off (Taehyung had stared in a daze for a few moments before realizing his Grandma was asking him if he was okay and he’d quickly apologized and made something up. It wasn’t his proudest moment).

            Taehyung had taken to varying his routes and timing on campus, taking circuitous paths and nearly being late a few times in an effort to side step Jimin’s advances. The blonde was smart though, Taehyung already knew this, and yet he was becoming more and more befuddled (and amused, if he was honest) by how quickly the smaller boy picked up on his newest paths. He’d managed to duck him for a day or two at most before Jimin was on to him, showing up when Taehyung had least expected it with a laugh and his phone number. The blue haired boy slipped each one into his wallet, carefully tucking them out of the way to keep them from falling out.

            He wasn’t sure why he didn’t just throw them out, clearly Jimin was more than willing to provide him with a replacement, but something in him just couldn’t stomach the idea of throwing any of them away even if he hadn’t opened a single one. He’d stood over a trashcan once, at Hoseok’s apartment for Saturday movie night, notes in hand and ready to be tossed for almost ten minutes before he’d given up and tucked them back into the safe confines of his wallet (the teasing and judgmental looks that night had been insufferable and he’d taken to keeping this game between him and Jimin to himself). Since the beginning of this game, Taehyung had seen more of Jimin in these few weeks then he’d ever expected to, and he was still in shock every time he gazed upon his face, in awe every time he heard his voice. He found himself enjoying the game, enjoying the brief moments and touches even as his head screamed one thing at him and his heart cried another. It was all a very confusing, jumbled mess.

He was a weak man.

            Taehyung was proud of himself though, other than varying his days, he’d stayed a passive player in this game, allowing Jimin to be the one and only aggressor. He hadn’t opened the notes or broken down and used the phone number, he rarely spoke during these incidents (not that Jimin really gave him a chance to, the boy was quick on his feet and Taehyung’s brain short circuited when he was anywhere in the vicinity), and he’d managed to keep a pretty blank face whenever the blonde was around. He was doing a great job, in his humble opinion, despite knowing his friends quietly disagreed and disapproved. He really couldn’t care less though, Taehyung was. . . happy.

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

            It was seven weeks and twenty six sticky notes into the semester when Taehyung stumbled upon Jimin instead of the other way around for the first time since the start of the year. He was walking down a flight of stairs, eyes locked (unwisely) on his phone screen as he tried to lead his clan to victory against another players clan when he heard the familiar sweet voice from around the bend. He froze, his first instinct to turn tail and run before Jimin noticed him or heard his footsteps; he was mid turn when he heard another voice along with a low chuckle.

            “You’re a great dancer, I saw you practicing through the windows.” The deep voice was slightly higher than Taehyung’s own, though lighter in pitch where his tended to get gravelly.

            “Thank you. I’ve worked hard on it.” Jimin’s voice was soft compared to the other guys, a bit timid and wavery as if unsure.

            “I can tell. You’ve got some moves blondie, I didn’t know men could be that flexible.” The guy flirted, his tone too smug for Taehyung’s liking. His brow furrowed as he turned to face the bottom of the stairs again, leaning against the railing and listening in. He felt annoyed suddenly, his previous good mood dissipating quickly.

            “Um.” Jimin murmured but didn’t continue, falling silent. Taehyung could hear him shifting his weight, the rustling of his clothes as he moved slightly echoing along the corridor.

            “So, what’s a pretty thing like you do for fun?” Taehyung’s eye twitched. The guy probably thought he sounded smooth when he actually sounded slimy, the croon in his voice irritating to listen to.

            “I-I, um. . .” Jimin managed to whisper, his voice slightly higher than normal and the blue haired boy’s eyes narrowed at the unease, something hot and prickly filling his stomach.

            The other guy laughed, and Taehyung heard another footfall, much heavier than Jimin’s light and graceful steps. “Aw, you’re shy? That’s cute. You’re cute.” Taehyung could hear light footsteps moving back quickly, and what sounded like a hand hitting the wall, a sharp inhale at the resounding thud. “What’s your name blondie?”

            “Stop. . .” Jimin finally managed to say, his wavery voice cold but overwhelmed, and before he knew it Taehyung was taking the stairs two at a time and reaching the landing, turning the corner to face the two boys, lip curling in disgust.

            Jimin was pressed up against the wall, nearly on his tip toes in his attempts to distance himself with his head tilted down and neck craned away from the boy in front of him. The boy attempting to manhandle him had a hand over his shoulder (a pathetic attempt at Kabedon, really. He looked stupid as hell in Taehyung’s opinion, not anywhere near the realm of cool or sexy) and was leaning in close to the blonde, despite Jimin’s body language screaming go away. The boy’s other hand looked as if it had just snagged one of Jimin’s smaller hands, clenching it even as Jimin was trying to tug it away frantically. An ugly feeling filled Taehyung’s chest at the sight of Jimin’s tiny hand locked within the bigger ape’s hand, his wrist delicate looking where it was trying to twist away.

            His jaw locked at the sight, Taehyung fighting the urge to start swinging just as Jimin’s big brown eyes opened and landed on him, desperation turning into shock. Squaring his shoulders just as the stranger looked up, Taehyung strode forward with his eyes locked on Jimin’s. “What’s going on here?”

            The stranger clearly didn’t hear the undercurrent of anger in Taehyung’s voice because he just laughed carelessly, smiling easily at the blue haired boy. “Nothing man, don’t worry about it. It’s all good here, just talking. Move along.”

            “Are you okay?” Taehyung ignored the overgrown slug, voice softer as Jimin seemed to deflate, eyes closing for a moment.

            “I already said—”

            Taehyung raised an eyebrow severely, his expression sharp and cutting. “I wasn’t asking you.” He looked back to where Jimin was slumped against the wall. “Is he bothering you Chim?” Jimin’s eyes shot open at the nickname, cheeks pinking as he seemed to plead with Taehyung for help, tugging with renewed vigor to get his hand out from the other boy’s grip.

            The stranger didn’t seem to notice the action, scowling in Taehyung’s direction. “Dude, seriously? Get out of here, you’re making this awkward.”

            “The only person making things awkward is you.” Taehyung stepped closer until he was towering over the other boy, lightly shoving him so he stumbled back a step and displaced his hand that’d been over Jimin’s shoulder. “Leave him alone. He’s just not that into you, sis.” Taehyung gave a sardonic grin as he slid in between Jimin and the stranger, his gaze moving down to the hand still clasped around Jimin’s with disdain. “Oh, and get your filthy hands off him before I forcibly remove them for you.”

            “What’s your problem bro?!” The stranger asked heatedly, eyes straying to Jimin even as his hand finally let Jimin’s go. The look was lewd and annoyed, and Taehyung had never wanted to stab someone’s eyes out before this exact moment; he barely noticed the small hands clutching at the small of his back, twisting in the material of his shirt. “He doesn’t need some hero, we’re just flirting. Calm the fuck down Clark Kent.”

            Taehyung’s lip curled up as he took another step forward, lifting a hand to snap near the stranger’s face and get his attention off Jimin, waiting until he was looking at him to smile, voice cold as he spoke. “Listen up and listen good, asshole. He’s not on the market, especially for a troglodyte like you, not as long as I’m around.” He aggressively shoved a finger to his chest, making the stranger stumbled back again. “Don’t think about him, don’t look at him, don’t ever fucking touching him again, do you get me, ‘bro’? I don’t ever want to see you anywhere near him ever again. If you turn around and walk away now, we won’t have a problem. But if you stay here, you’re going to see just what kind of a possessive asshole I can be. So, what’s it going to be?”

            The stranger looked between Taehyung and Jimin, eyes wide with shock and anger before he shook his head in irritation before stepping away. “That bitch isn’t worth it, even if his lips look made for blowjobs. It’s too bad, I bet he begs prettily.”

            Taehyung didn’t even register moving until he’d grabbed the guy’s shirt collar and shoved him against the wall behind him, his fist coming up and cracking across the guy’s face. The blood was rushing in his ears and his vision went red as he punched him again, cartilage giving under his knuckles as the guy howled with pain, the sound of Jimin gasping seeming far into the background. Arms around Taehyung’s waist yanking him backwards threw off his next hit, his knuckles barely grazing the guys jaw as he stumbled, small hands locked on his belt keeping him from lunging forward again. The guy had landed on his knees when Taehyung was pulled off of him, clutching his face before he was scrambling to his feet and sending the blue haired boy an incredulous glare as red poured between his fingers.

            “You’re fucking crazy! Fucking psychotic asshole!”

            Taehyung nearly growled as he struggled in Jimin’s arms, the two nearly toppling to the ground. “Don’t you ever speak about him like that again! I’ll fucking end you! Try me!” Taehyung nearly spit, his voice low and dangerous.

            “You’re insane!” The guy sent them another hateful look before taking off, disappearing down the hall and out of sight, much to Taehyung’s displeasure.

            His chest was rising and falling fast, his jaw clenched as he stared after him, mind a whirlwind of anger and tinging everything crimson still. The urge to give chase was stronger than he’d have thought, the intensity shocking even to him. He was a pacifist by nature, fuck, he cried when his dad hit a squirrel a month ago. Taehyung didn’t do violence (or, he didn’t do violence, his bleeding and aching knuckles begged a differ). The emotions swirled within him, feeling too big to contain. “Fuck!” He nearly shouted, running his intact hand through his hair raggedly, gripping the locks there tightly as he clenched his eyes shut. He took a slow breath and tried to calm himself, a distant part of his mind screaming for him to control himself.

            Soft hands were suddenly on him, the gentle pressure on his shoulders making him jump and he caught himself from striking out in shock as his eyes opened rapidly. Jimin was in front of him now, eyes wide and damp as his fingers trailed slowly up to run along his neck, skimming the skin there as he slowly cupped Taehyung’s jaw. Taehyung’s chest stuttered on his breath as Jimin’s thumbs eased along his cheekbones slowly, each motion seeming to slowly drain the overwhelming anger from his body. Jimin’s eyes were soft as he moved his hands up to card them through Taehyung’s hair, nails gently scratching at his scalp in the way that had always turned the blue haired boy to mush, his shoulders slumping at the feeling. He felt himself relaxing as the blonde’s small hands slid back down to cup his cheeks briefly before moving down the column of his throat to his chest. A long sigh left him as the blonde’s head tilted, eyes studying him intensely as he took the hand that’d punched the stranger between his two palms carefully.

            Jimin’s eyes finally moved to glance down at the hand, making a soft sound at the sight of the split knuckles, the skin mottled and swelling slowly under the fluorescent lights. Taehyung looked too, wincing lightly at the stinging sensation that he knew meant bruising, watching Jimin gently examine the hand for any broken bones. He seemed to dub it fine, finally tilting his head up to meet Taehyung’s gaze again, his eyes warm and filled with something Taehyung wasn’t sure he recognized. His eyes widened as Jimin lifted the hand up and pressed a gentle kiss to each inflamed knuckle, his lips soft and warm against Taehyung’s skin. The contact stung but Taehyung didn’t make a sound, didn’t dare to even breath as the back of his hand was kissed too then pressed to a soft cheek, Jimin’s small hands holding the larger hand there as he sighed and seemed to sway closer. Taehyung swallowed hard and his free hand seemed to move on its own, reaching up to brush soft blonde bangs out of Jimin’s eyes and sliding his fingertips along a sharp cheekbone, freezing in place when he’d realized when he’d done.

            “I’m sorry.” Taehyung finally said, unable to look away from Jimin’s gaze, the dark eyes seeming to hypnotize him and pin him in place. “I didn’t handle that very well, did I? I shouldn’t have. . . I was out of line. I was just. . . he made me so angry, saying those horrible things about you and touching you when you clearly didn’t want him to, I. . . lost control. I’m sorry.” He gulped as Jimin’s eyes went steely, glancing to look the way the stranger went as he tried to blank his face. “I’m not normally that person, I’ve never been in a fight. I don’t get angry like that, ever! But he was so far out of line, I couldn’t stand the thought of him with his filthy fucking hands all over you—” Taehyung was cut off with a surprised sound as Jimin released his hand and gripped his hips, Taehyung’s back hitting the wall as Jimin leaned into his space.

            The blonde looked furious; his grip tight as he got close enough that Taehyung’s eyes nearly crossed trying to keep him in sight. His voice was hard and low as he spoke. “Never apologize for protecting me.” Taehyung’s breath hitched as one arm wrapped around his waist, the other moving up to grasp his chin and make him look into Jimin’s burning gaze. “I don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t shown up, he was. . . handsy and it was scaring me, I felt like a trapped animal. I was legitimately terrified, pressed against that wall and unable to get him to let go of me. But then you were there, like some kind of white knight out of a fairytale, all tall and imposing and dangerously sexy.” Jimin laughed breathlessly, his chest pressing to Taehyung’s. “You defended my body when he was manhandling me, then defended my honor when he made those stupid comments. I’ve been nothing but terrible to you and you still swooped in and saved the day, just like you’ve always done. You’re my hero, Taetae.” He finished on a whisper, rising to his tip toes to place a soft kiss on Taehyung’s cheek.

            Taehyung’s heart skipped a beat, his eyes falling half closed as he breathed out a shaky sigh as Jimin pulled back a bit, the lingering imprint of his lips on Taehyung’s cheek making the world feel as if it was spinning. He knew his cheeks were pink as Jimin gazed at him, eyes roving along his face until the blue haired boy had the urge to cover himself, his tongue peeking out to run along his bottom lip nervously. Jimin tracked the movement, his eyes seeming to darken as he swayed forwards, the hand on Taehyung’s chin sliding back to the nape of his neck, tangling in the soft hair there unconsciously. “I’m. . . I’m not. . .” Taehyung tried to say, voice raspy and low as it trailed off, his hands coming up, but not to ward Jimin off like he thought. One landed on Jimin’s rib cage, grasping him tightly as the other landed on Jimin’s jaw softly. “Jiminie, I. . .”

            “Taehyung-ah.” Jimin whispered with a soft sigh before he was pulling Taehyung’s face down to his and pressing their lips together.

            The first kiss was soft and hesitant at first, before Jimin was tilting his head to slot their lips together more firmly and pulling Taehyung closer. It was sweet and warm, and his breath was shaky against Taehyung’s lips as he broke the kiss, eyes unsure as he made to move back. The blue haired boys mind was suddenly blank at the feel of him moving, and without thinking Taehyung was flipping them, the blonde pressed to the wall as their lips met again, Jimin gasping in shock as Taehyung’s arms wound tight around his waist, the angle canting his hips into the taller boy’s body. The blonde threw his arms around Taehyung’s neck as he kissed back enthusiastically, Taehyung’s breath hitching at the feel of a hot tongue pressing against the seam of his lips, letting him in with a groan. That second kiss was frantic and hot, tongues tangling together as Taehyung pressed closer and licked into Jimin’s mouth. He tasted sweet, a little like that peach tea Taehyung saw him with sometimes, the sensation heady and fogging his mind. Jimin made a soft sound as Taehyung nibbled on his lower lip, his hands sinking into Taehyung’s hair and pulling him closer, catching the other boy’s lips with his in another searing kiss as Taehyung’s hands ran up along his ribs before fitting into the dimples on Jimin’s lower back. Taehyung’s mind was silent as they kissed, losing track of time as the only thing he could focus on was Jimin’s lips pressed against his, the soft sounds he was making, and the feel of the smaller boy’s body pressed close against his.

            His cell phone ringing was like having an ice cold bucket of water dumped over his head, Taehyung jerking back in shock as he panted, eyes wide. Jimin’s face was red, eyes glazed over as he huffed for air too, lips kiss swollen and shiny with saliva (Taehyung’s saliva, the blue haired boy’s brain supplied unhelpfully). He quickly dug in his pocket, pulling the phone out and answering it even as he stayed locked with Jimin’s gaze. “Hello?” His voice was hoarse and he inwardly cursed, clearing his throat and swallowing hard as Jimin’s lips tilted up in a smile, a breathy giggle leaving him.

            “Hey, are you okay?” Jungkook’s familiar voice was worried through the phone speaker, his tone questioning and Taehyung cursed his own transparency.

            “I’m fine.”

            “You sound weird.”

            “You sound weird.”

            “Real mature, hyung.” He could hear Jungkook rolling his eyes.

            “What do you want brat?” He was proud of how steady his voice was, even as Jimin’s eyes were half mast, his fingers trailing lightly along the nape of his neck, sending sparks down his spine. He nearly groaned as the smaller boy bit his lower lip lightly, eyes trained on the sight.

            “Where are you? We’ve been waiting for like twenty minutes. Jin-hyung is about to flip.”

            “Fuck.” Taehyung hung his head for a moment before sighing. “I completely forgot. I’ll be there soon, okay? Tell hyung I’m sorry and I’m on my way to the parking lot right now.”

            “Hurry it up.”

            Jungkook ended the call without saying goodbye and Taehyung made a face. “Disrespectful brat, I’m his hyung, damn it!” He slid the phone back in his pocket and finally realized he was still holding the blonde close, Jimin pouting slightly as he looked up at him through long lashes. Reddening, Taehyung quickly released him, fighting the urge to kiss him again by stepping back a foot, rubbing the back of his neck nervously. “I’ve gotta go.”

            Jimin licked his lips as he straightened up, running a hand through his blonde locks and fuck, Taehyung wanted to kiss him again. “Okay.” He sounded breathless, his voice pitched higher than normal and he blushed, clearing his throat before repeating. “Okay.” Taehyung nodded dumbly, scratching his nose anxiously as he went to go, pausing as Jimin spoke again. “Wait!” He turned just in time for Jimin’s hands to cup his jaw and yank him down into a searing kiss, lips insistent as they moved against Taehyung’s, licking quickly into Taehyung’s mouth as if to imprint his taste there before he was breaking the kiss, pulling back with hooded eyes. Taehyung nearly stumbled when he was released, a purple sticky note pressed into his hand as Jimin stepped back. “Sorry, just in case you don’t ever. . . I just wanted one more.” He blushed prettily and Taehyung nearly swooned. “And I wanted to find you to give you that earlier anyways.”

            “Okay.” Taehyung whispered in response, clasping the note in his hand tightly. He made no move to leave and Jimin’s laugh was light and airy, his hand coming up to cover his mouth and his eyes turning into crescents at the force of his smile.

            “You should go.”

            “Okay.”

            “And don’t forget to ice that hand to help the swelling okay?”

            “Okay.” Taehyung was frozen.

            Jimin giggled again, leaning against the wall to stay upright. “Taehyung! You need to go!”

            “Okay.” The blue haired boy shook his head, lightly slapping his cheeks. “Right, right. Going. I’m going now.” His smile was embarrassed as he hurried off, the sound of Jimin’s laughter following him as he headed out the doors. He nearly sprinted to the parking lot, legs pumping fast as he weaved around people until he could see Seokjin’s car, Jungkook leaning against it and texting on his phone while the others stood around him in varying degrees of irritation. The blue haired boy skidded to a stop in front of them, Hoseok catching him to keep him from careening to the ground.

            “Taehyung! Be careful!” Hoseok scolded as the blue haired boy panted, his face concerned.

            “I’m here, I’m here! Sorry!” He managed to say, chest tight as he huffed for air. The others were giving him a funny look and he glanced around curiously before pouting as he tried to catch his breath. “Okay, so I’m out of shape. I’d like to see one of you old guys try sprinting halfway across campus and not get winded. Quit the staring.”

            “We’re not staring because of that.” Jungkook rolled his eyes before pinning him with a curious and amused look. “Hyung, have you looked in a mirror lately?”

            “What?” Taehyung asked, brow furrowing in confusion. “What do you mean?”

            “We’re staring because your hair is all over the place like someone’s been grabbing it.” Seokjin sounded entirely too amused, smirking at Taehyung from where he stood with an arm around Namjoon, eyebrow raised. “Plus, your lips are all swollen and red as if someone’s been biting them. So, the question is, who’ve you been making out with Taehyung-ah?”

            He felt his face heat up even as it went carefully blank, subconsciously twisting the ring on his middle finger. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

            “Mhmm. Sure.” Hoseok was grinning as him, gesturing to one of the car mirrors. “Take a look and try that again.” Taehyung made a face at him, but leaned in to look in a mirror obediently, face flushing a darker red. His faded blue hair was all over the place, tousled and tangled from where Jimin’s hands had mussed it, his lips looked as if he’d been kissed breathless. He ran his thumb over them and winced at their sensitivity as he stood up, turning back to his Hyungs and Jungkook with a bashful look on his face.

            “Okay. Point made.” He conceded with a laugh, waving a hand. “Don’t worry about it. Shouldn’t we be going? And where’s Yoongi-hyung?” He looked around dramatically, as if searching for the smaller boy.

            “It’s cute that you think that’s going to work.” Seokjin replied sweetly, crossing his arms. “You can’t distract us that easily. Who are you kissing these days? Spill the Tae.” The others groaned at the lame joke as Seokjin laughed his windshield wiper laugh, Namjoon rolling his eyes fondly as he slipped an arm around his waist.

            “No one.” Taehyung muttered, cheeks coloring as he rolled his eyes, trying to move around Jungkook who was standing in front of the car door. The brunet had a shit eating grin on his face and wouldn’t let the blue haired boy by, blocking his every attempt at reaching for the door. “Damn it Kook-ah, move!” Taehyung whined, bringing his hands up to playfully shove him, wincing and hissing in pain when Jungkook grabbed the hands to stop him. “Ouch, fuck!”

            “What the hell happened to your hand?” Jungkook asked alarmed, moving his hand to grasp Taehyung’s wrist instead of the swollen knuckles.

            “Nothing! Nothing happened!”

            “Taehyung-ah, look at your hand! It looks like you punched someone!” Namjoon looked shocked and worried, reaching out and taking the hand and gently pressing on different points of it to see if any bones were broken.

            “Okay, fine. You’re not wrong.”

            Namjoon’s hands froze, making Taehyung hiss in pain again. “What?”

            “I said you’re right.”

            Hoseok looked horrified. “You punched someone?”

            “Yeah. Twice.”

            “Twice?

            “Well, technically three times? I cuffed his jaw that last time. It would have been four times, but Jimin-ah stopped me and the guy ran away too fast for me to get out of his octopus arms in time to clock him again.”

            Seokjin looked as if he’d aged a year during Taehyung’s spiel, pinching the bridge of his nose tiredly. “There’s a lot to unpack there. Why are you punching people?”

            “’Jimin-ah’?” Jungkook mimicked with a hard frown, giving Taehyung a look. “Since when are you calling him that again?”

            “Why were you with Jimin? And why did he have to stop you from punching someone?” Hoseok asked, taking out his phone and texting someone (Yoongi, Taehyung guessed) before raising his eyebrows at Taehyung.

            “Was it Jimin you were kissing?” Namjoon interjected and everyone suddenly stood up straighter, as if the bespectacled boy had asked the most important question there.

            Taehyung blinked in surprise at the onslaught of questions before ripping his hand from Namjoon’s grasp and covering his ears. “Shut up, too many questions! What is this, the Spanish Inquisition?!”

            “You don’t even know what that is.” Jungkook replied immediately.

            “Yeah I do! It was in Spain in the early. . . there was an inquisition of. . . shut up Jungkook!” The brunet was cackling at Taehyung’s shout. “This feels like an over the top, nosy interview!”

            “Wrong. This is an over the top, nosy interrogation. Interview implies a choice you don’t have.” Seokjin grabbed him by his bicep and led him over to the passenger door, shoving him unceremoniously into the car. He whined about harsh treatment as Hoseok followed him in and shut the door, Jungkook moving around the car to block Taehyung in on his other side, with Seokjin and Namjoon sitting up front and turning to face him. Blocked in at all sides, Taehyung huffed and slumped in his seat as they all stared at him.

            “You know, this feels vaguely like kidnapping. Be careful, I might develop Stockholm syndrome and fall in love with one of you.”

            “Just talk.” Seokjin rolled his eyes.

            Taehyung sighed dramatically and gave in. “I was leaving the art building to come here and came across some asshole all over Jiminie—Jimin,” He corrected quickly at Jungkook’s hard look, cheeks pinking. “And Jimin was scared. This guy had him against the wall and wouldn’t get off him, he was gripping his tiny hand so tight it looked like he was going to break it! So, I stepped in and told him to kindly fuck off. We argued a bit and I may have threatened him bodily harm if he didn’t get his filthy hands off Jimin—”

            “Taehyung!” Namjoon cried, scandalized.

            “—Finally, it seemed like he was getting with the program, but he made these comments about Jimin and his looks, really nasty, sexual comments about him in bed, and I just. . . I popped off. I punched his face twice, I might have broken his nose, the cartilage made this really bad sound and just crumpled under my fist—Did you know it was that fragile?” Taehyung veered off for a moment, remembering the sound and feel. “It was like an accordion, the way it just folded and—”

            “Taehyung!” Hoseok nearly pleaded, looking pale at the thought.

            “—Well, Jimin grabbed me and stopped me from punching him, and the guy ran off! I was so mad, he deserved at least a few more hits.” Taehyung trailed off, shrugging lightly. The others just looked at him for a long few moments before Seokjin spoke up.

            “Did you put your weight behind it and make sure not to tuck your thumb?”

            “Yes, hyung.”

            “Good.” Seokjin seemed satisfied and a little proud, making the blue haired boy grin at him.

            “So?” Hoseok leaned in, his tone gossipy. “It was Jimin you were kissing?”

            Taehyung could feel his face heating as he looked away, pulling his wallet out and slipping the newest purple note within its confines for safe keeping before replying. “I apologized for overreacting and he was touching my hand, and he got mad. He told me not to apologize for protecting him. He said. . . he knew he’d been terrible to me in the past and he was overwhelmed that I’d still come to his rescue, that I was still his hero just like I’d always been.” Taehyung bit his lip, eyes closing as he remembered. “And then. . . he was kissing me. It was a quick kiss, and he pulled away like he was afraid he’d overstepped and. . . I kissed him. I have no idea how long we were kissing, only that it only stopped because Jungkookie called me.” He shrugged helplessly, sighing as he opened his eyes again. “It was unexpected but it just felt right. And. . . I forgot just how good it felt. I really missed it, missed him.”

            “Oh Tae.” Hoseok sounded moved and a little sad as he wrapped an arm around the younger boy’s shoulders. The blue haired boy sighed, eyes falling closed again.

            “I think I’m going to text him.”

            “Are you sure? He really hurt you. Are you prepared for something like that to happen again?” Seokjin’s questions were very straight forward and almost callous, but Taehyung knew it was only because he cared.

            “I think it’s worth the risk.”

            “I don’t think it’s a good idea.” Jungkook finally said, and Taehyung sat up to look at him with surprise. The brunet’s mouth was pressed into a tight line, his eyes closed off as he glared at the ground. “He just up and left us—you. He just left you, with no good bye or anything. What kind of person does that, hyung? And who’s to say he won’t do it again?”

            “Well. . . I can’t say that.” Taehyung shrugged slightly, studying the younger boy worriedly. “But I’ll never know if I don’t try.”

            “It’s a stupid idea.” Jungkook turned to look out the window, resting his chin on his hand. “Don’t come crying to me when he pulls another dick move and breaks your heart again. I’ll just say I told you so.” Taehyung frowned, shoving the brunet hard enough that his head slammed against the window, making the boy cry out in pain before turning to glare at him. “Ouch! What the fuck?”

            “Don’t be an ass, Jeon.”

            “I’m not being an ass, I’m being realistic! You’re just setting yourself up for failure and I’m not just gonna send you off with a smile to do it. You’d be an idiot to get back with him.”

            “You’re my friend, you’re supposed to support me! Even if you think what I’m doing is stupid!” Turning to the others, Taehyung frowned. “Do all of you feel like that?” The guilty looks he got in return were answer enough and he glared at them all. “Well, fuck you guys too! I can’t believe this!” He turned and shoved Jungkook again until the younger boy opened the door and got out to escape the assault. Taehyung quickly followed after him, turning to glare at his Hyungs (simultaneously snubbing Jungkook). “It’s my life, I’ll date or not date whoever I want. It’s my mistake to make!”

            “Taehyung—” Namjoon started to speak but Taehyung cut him off.

            “No! I’m really mad right now, and I need to walk away before I say something I’m going to regret. I’m passing on tonight, I’ll talk to you guys tomorrow.” Turning, he passed Jungkook and headed for the subway station, leaving his friends staring after him.

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

            He wasn’t surprised when there was a knock on his door an hour later, the door creaking open to reveal a hesitant Yoongi standing behind it. Taehyung was laying on his bed, his head dangling over the edge with his feet on the wall, frowning petulantly at the corkboard of pictures over his desk. His arms were crossed and his phone lay forgotten on his nightstand, his face red from the blood rushing to his skull. Yoongi stepped in and closed the door behind him, hands slipping into his hoodie pocket as he eyed the blue haired boy. Taehyung eyed him back for a long moment before looking away, his eyes going back to the pictures with a hard frown.

            “You know, that can’t be good for your brain.” Yoongi finally said. Taehyung just snorted. “It’s a really slow way to black out. I’d suggest running head first into a wall instead, quicker results.”

            “I’m not trying to pass out. I’m decompressing my spinal cord.” Taehyung replied haughtily, the tone ruined by the stuffy sound of his voice caused by the head rush. Yoongi raised an eyebrow but didn’t comment, moving across the room to climb up on the bed, sitting with his back against the wall by Taehyung’s feet. They stayed silent for a while, Yoongi waiting patiently as Taehyung fidgeted, growing antsier by the minute until he finally spoke up again. “Why are you here?”

            “Checking up on you.”

            “Why?”

            “Hobi told me about what happened today.”

            “Are you here to tell me I’m an idiot who makes bad life choices too?”

            “You are an idiot, in general. But no, I’m not here to tell you that.” Yoongi smiled slightly at the disgruntled look Taehyung shot him as he lifted his head briefly before letting it hang again.

            “Then what do you want?”

            “I wanted to see if you were okay. A lot happened and it must be hard to process.” Yoongi’s voice was gentle and Taehyung sighed softly, hand scrubbing tiredly at his face. “I also figured someone should check to see if you iced your hand.”

            “I did.”

            “Good. You hit him hard, I hope?”

            “Yes hyung.”

            “Good. I’m proud of you.”

            Taehyung sighed, finally sitting up and getting momentarily dizzy before shaking his head lightly as the blood drained from his brain back to his body. He shifted so he was leaning against the wall next to the older boy, facing forwards to stare at the door. “I don’t know what to do. I’m lost.”

            “Are you though?”

            “What’s that supposed to mean?”

            “Are you really lost, Taehyung-ah?” Yoongi was giving him a knowing look even as Taehyung pointedly avoided looking over at him. “I think you know what you want to do. And you should do it.”

            “Everyone thinks it’s stupid, that I’m stupid if I try things with him again. They think that I’m just opening myself up to be hurt, which I might be, I realize that! I’m not a total idiot. But. . . they just don’t get it, hyung.”

            “Fuck what everyone else thinks then.”

            Taehyung’s head whipped around in shock, eyes wide as he stared at Yoongi’s serious expression. “What?”

            “Chuck their opinions in the fuck it bucket and do it anyway. This is your life Tae, not theirs.” Yoongi shrugged, his fingers tapping out a rhythm on his thighs softly. “If you still care about him, despite everything that’s happened and all he’s put you through, then you should pursue it. If you don’t, you’ll just spend your whole life wondering ‘what if’.” He turned his head to meet Taehyung’s surprised gaze with a warm smile. “I know I would have if I never made up with Hobi, and that would have been the biggest mistake of my life. You deserve to be happy, and maybe he’s it. You’ll never know if you’re too scared to move forward with it and try.”

            “You don’t think I’d be an idiot to start something with him? I don’t even know if he. . . what if he’s over that part of us? I mean, is it a coincidence that he disappeared right when I went to tell him I loved him?” Taehyung ran a hand through his hair, ruffling the locks tiredly. “And I know that I found out everything the day before, about his past and why he is—was mute. But I keep coming back to him cutting my confession off.”

            “Have you ever considered he didn’t know what you were about to say?”

            “It seems highly unlikely. I think it’s more like he knew, but he didn’t want me to embarrass myself by verbally putting it out there.”

            “Tae, I doubt that. You didn’t see the way he looked at you when you weren’t looking. And we used to spend a lot of time together, in the studio. He was always talking about you, even before you two became official. It was always ‘Taehyung this’ and ‘Taetae did that’, literally nonstop. He looked at you like you hung the moon and stars in his sky.” Yoongi laughed softly, nudging Taehyung. “He really cared for you. I’m not going to say for sure it was love so don’t quote me on it, but from my point of view, his world revolved around you.”

            Taehyung’s cheeks were red as he blew out an embarrassed sigh. “Hyung, that’s too much.”

            “Just the truth.”

            “Fucking sap.”

            “Respect your elders, brat.” Yoongi snarked back, but then his tone settled to something sweeter and softer. “If you really care about Jimin, you should reach out to him if that’s what you want. Don’t let him slip away again, stand your ground. And if it doesn’t work out, so be it. At least you tried.”

            “But I’m scared. What if he doesn’t want me back?”

            “But what if he does?” Yoongi countered, smiling softly as he took Taehyung’s hand in a loose hold, squeezing it comfortingly. “Don’t be a baby. Have the courage to go after what you want. Channel past Taehyung.”

            “He was a lot more ballsy, wasn’t he?”

            “Well, he didn’t have as much at stake, and he hadn’t been hurt before. New Taehyung is ballsy too, he just uses his head a bit too much.”

            “Never thought I’d see the day I was accused of overthinking.” Taehyung said with awe, making Yoongi laugh. “Is this real life?”

            “Taehyung-ah. Remember we all love you.” Yoongi said after their laughter had abated, his voice quiet. “The others just want to see you happy too, and they hate not being able to protect you. We’re a family, and we know how bad you hurt last time.”

            “I know.” Taehyung sighed softly. “And I know that they were hurt too when Jimin left.”

            “It’s true. We all lost a friend that day too. Our favorite dongsaeng.” He sighed sadly, a smile twitching on his lips.

            Taehyung slapped at him as the older boy laughed, huffing indignantly. “I still resent that! I was here first, damn it!” Yoongi fended off his slaps, nearly shoving him off the edge of the bed, the blue haired boy giving a cry of alarm before grabbing Yoongi to keep himself upright.

            Yoongi shrugged out of his arms, leaning over and grabbing Taehyung’s cell phone and holding it out to the younger boy with an eyebrow raised, expression faux bored. “You’re an idiot. So, what are you going to do about it?” Taehyung stared at it for a long moment before slowly taking it, pulling his wallet out.

            “I’m gonna do what I do best. Wing it.”

            Yoongi’s smile was bright at the answer, the older boy watching with rapt attention as Taehyung pulled the little purple notes out from the wallet’s confines, watching them cascade onto the comforter with wide eyes. “Jesus, that’s a lot! And they all have his number? Points for persistence.”

            “I assume so, I never actually opened any of them.” Taehyung watched with wide eyes as Yoongi plucked a note from the covers and started opening it, squeaking in protest. “Hey!”

            “Oh, calm down, you baby. You really think I’m just gonna sit here and watch you stare at them for an hour? I’m curious.”

            “You’re the worst hyung I have.”

            “Thank you.” Yoongi finally unfolded the sticky note, taking care to keep it from ripping. Taehyung watched with bated breath as he scanned the contents, watching as the older boy’s expression went wide with shock. “Holy shit.”

            “What? What?!” Taehyung scrambled to take the note, heart racing suddenly as he fumbled with it for a moment before he could read it, ignoring Yoongi immediately reaching for another note to open.

            Sometimes, when I see you just walking down the hall, I can barely breath because of how beautiful you are. It’s unreal, YOU’RE unreal. -JM

            Taehyung’s eyes were wide as he stared at the scrawled words, a number following the initials almost as an afterthought. He looked up, meeting Yoongi’s surprised gaze and seeing the pile of notes the older boy was opening, scrambling to pick them up and read them one by one.

            I can’t eat or smell strawberries without thinking about you, I had to swear off the whole fruit. -JM

            Your voice is so much deeper now, which shouldn’t be possible. Just hearing it makes my heart want to give out, I become a puddle. What are you doing to me? -JM

            I watched the sunset last night and it made me think of you. Colorful, vibrant, and warm. All words I would associate with you, Taehyung-ah. -JM

            Your cologne was different today, it suits you. Sometimes I have to hold my breath around you, you always smell so good and it makes me dizzy. -JM

            I can’t help but stare at your lips sometimes. It makes me think of that night at Seokjin-hyung’s, when I kissed you for the first time. I still remember the way you tasted, the way you felt against me. I miss that. -JM

            I miss you so much Taetae, how could I not? -JM

            The notes went on and on, Yoongi quietly opening them before handing them over, eyes averted as Taehyung made his way through all twenty seven notes. Every single one of            them (except the first, that only contained his phone number) had comments about Taehyung; observations Jimin had made, memories from their senior year of high school, intimate thoughts the blonde had never shared with Taehyung. The blue haired boy scanned the notes, drinking the words in like a dehydrated man in a desert finding an oasis, his fingers shaking as he read them again and again. His heart had surpassed racing and was beating slow and steady, a dull thump that seemed to echo through his core. He didn’t realize he was crying until Yoongi was putting an arm around his waist and pulling him close, resting Taehyung’s head on his shoulder and gently running a hand over his hair.

            It was a few minutes before Taehyung could get himself back under control, wiping his eyes as he straightened up with a soft laugh. Yoongi eyed his curiously, his arm still resting comfortingly on the younger boy’s back. “That was a lot, huh?” Yoongi’s voice was quiet and soothing.

            “How stupidly romantic is that? Writing me little love notes like that, it almost makes me mad. What an asshole.” Taehyung’s voice was shaky and wet sounding, his laugh croaky. “Where does he get off, pulling this shit?”

            “Taehyung-ah—”

            “As if he needed the extra help making me fall in love with him. Idiot. Can’t he see that I’m already so deep in love that I’m drowning in it? What a fucking dick.” Taehyung wiped the tears that were streaming down his cheeks with a hiccupped sob. “I fucking hate him.”

            I love him so much it hurts to breath.

            Yoongi smiled softly, pulling Taehyung in to give him a hard hug before he was standing, careful not to trample any of the notes. Taehyung sniffled as his eyes fell on the purple stickies again, eyes picking out phrases and words as they skimmed the notes, not even glancing up as Yoongi made his way over to the door. “Good luck Tae.” Yoongi disappeared out the door just as Taehyung lifted his phone and programed the number into his contacts. He typed for a few moments, staring at the screen for what felt like a lifetime before finally hitting send.

Kim Taehyung

[hey. it’s taehyung.]

            He took a deep breath and locked the phone screen, tossing the phone onto his pillow before slowly gathering the notes with careful hands. The empty jewelry box he had from the last time he’d bought a bracelet made for a perfect safekeeping box, the purple notes carefully contained inside where they would be safe. He’d just placed it in his nightstand drawer when his phone buzzed twice in a row. He nearly fell on the bed in his haste to pick it up, shaking fingers sliding across the display to open the text thread as he held his breath.

Park Jimin

[Oh my god, Taehyung, hi!]

[What a surprise, I wasn’t expecting to hear from you!]

            He took a deep breath, closing his eyes for a moment before responding back, trying not to think too hard about what he was saying.

Kim Taehyung

[I wasn’t expecting it either tbh]

Park Jimin

[Well, I’m glad you reached out.]

[Wow, I can’t believe this. Sorry, this is just so surreal. I thought for sure you’d never actually text me. I’ve never been happier to be wrong.]

            Taehyung felt his cheeks flush and he had to set the phone down for a moment and cover his face. His skin was hot to the touch and he inwardly cursed Jimin for knowing just what to say to make him flustered at the drop of a hat. It wasn’t fair, how quickly he was reduced to mush. His phone vibrating again had him sitting up and lifting his phone quickly, eyes hungry for more words.

Park Jimin

[Sorry, was that weird?]

Kim Taehyung

[no, no. you’re fine]

[if it makes you feel better, I was almost positive I wouldn’t text you either]

Park Jimin

[Strangely enough, it doesn’t make me feel better haha.]

[Thank you, by the way. For earlier today.]

Kim Taehyung

[you already said thank you, no big deal. seriously]

Park Jimin

[It’s a big deal to me.]

[That guy was freaking me out. I’m really glad you were there. How’s your hand?]

Kim Taehyung

[sore, swollen and bruised a bit. ice helps]

[who knew it hurt to punch someone just as much as it hurts to be punched? That seems like pretty necessary information to have]

Park Jimin

[Are you saying you’ve been punched before?]

[Never mind, don’t answer that. That’s not surprising lol]

Kim Taehyung

[yah! watch yourself Park! I don’t have to take this abuse from someone half my size]

[tiny]

Park Jimin

[It’s not my fault you’re a giant! Not so much of a string bean anymore though, like when we met.]

[You’ve grown up.]

Kim Taehyung

[I would say the same about you but…..]

Park Jimin

[Two short jokes in a row, how refreshing. XP]

Kim Taehyung

[what can I say, I have to stick to my brand]

Park Jimin

[I miss you.]

            The sudden serious text had Taehyung’s heart beating faster, his face heating up as he nearly tossed his phone across the room in his shock. The device landed near the edge of his mattress and he had to lunge at it to catch it before it hit the ground and broke. Taehyung fell against the wall and covered his face with his hands, inwardly screaming at himself to get it together. This was Jimin. Just Jimin.

            (There was no just about him, he realized. Jimin was his ex-boyfriend, ex-best friend, and potential love of his life, among so many other things that the blue haired boy didn’t have a hope of quantifying.)

            When he finally lifted his phone again it’d been a good ten minutes of him having left Jimin on read, and if he still knew Jimin like he thought he did, the blonde was panicking. Unlocking his phone to a slew of messages, he felt both guilty and fond.

Park Jimin

[Oh god, that was weird, wasn’t it? It just kind of came out. I’m so sorry!!!]

[Shit, are you still there Taehyung? Did I scare you off already?]

[I swear I’m not trying to be a total desperate loser (though I know my hypothesis isn’t exactly supported considering I’ve been giving you my number a stupid amount of times the last few weeks)]

[In my head it was a lot smoother than it looks now. I’m a loser. I’m glad you threw them all out.]

[Taehyung. . .?]

Kim Taehyung

[sorry, I’m back. Eomma needed help with something. you didn’t scare me off]

            Taehyung knew lying was bad, but he couldn’t pass up on the chance to tease the older boy. He could already imagine the look of horror on his face when he realized what he’d just spammed Taehyung with. He wasn’t disappointed when the blonde replied not too much later.

Park Jimin

[Oh.]

[Wow.]

[Is there a way to delete yourself? Asking for a friend.]

            He laughed outright, throwing his head back against the wall at the force of his mirth, screenshotting that part of the conversation before replying.

Kim Taehyung

[nah, don’t think so lol rip your friend ;)]

[and btw…. I didn’t throw the notes away actually. in fact, I just read them all]

            Taehyung bit his lip as he texted back, nervously tugging on the loose string of his hoodie sleeve. It was a good five minutes before Jimin replied.

Park Jimin

[All of them?]

Kim Taehyung

[all twenty seven, yeah]

Park Jimin

[. . . I’m really embarrassed but I don’t want to leave you on read.]

[What. . . what do you think? Of the notes, I mean.]

Kim Taehyung

[they. . . they’re really nice]

[I liked them]

[and. . . I miss you too]

            The air escaped his lungs at his confession, Taehyung an interesting combination of mortified and confident that had him wanting to both defenestrate himself and do a jig. It was a very confusing mix and he resolved to lay there and do nothing, just stare at the ceiling in embarrassment. His phone chimed and he nearly dropped it on his face in his haste to open the thread.

Park Jimin

[Oh wow. Um, okay. That’s good. That’s really, really good.]

[Jesus, I haven’t been this nervous in so long.]

Kim Taehyung

[me either]

Park Jimin

[Though. . . I might have been close to this nervous earlier today too.]

[Can I admit something that might come across weird? You don’t even have to reply or say anything to it, I promise.]

Kim Taehyung

[you can tell me anything Jimin]

Park Jimin

[Fuck, okay.]

[I really missed your lips. Like, honest to god, I forgot how good a kisser you are. Kissing you today was that kind of really good unexpected that you never want to end, I could literally kiss you for hours if you’d let me. And your tongue is just. . . god, Taehyung-ah.]

            At the rate Jimin was going, Taehyung was going to be six feet under by the end of this conversation, his heart legitimately cannot take it. Taehyung was stressed.

Park Jimin

[Okay. I’m done being an idiot. Sorry if that was weird.]

Kim Taehyung

[no, it’s. . . it’s okay. um, me too]

Park Jimin

[You too. . .?]

Kim Taehyung

[I missed it too. . . your lips, kissing you, I mean]

Park Jimin

[Oh.]

[OH.]

[We. . . have a lot to talk about, huh?]

Kim Taehyung

[yeah. . . I think we do.]

Park Jimin

[Do you want to talk. . .?]

Kim Taehyung

[I think I owe it to us both to hear you out]

[but I want the whole story]

Park Jimin

[And I owe you that.]

[How do you want to do this? What would make you feel more comfortable?]

Kim Taehyung

[I’d like to talk in person]

Park Jimin

[When and where?]

Kim Taehyung

[the park, now?]

Park Jimin

[I’m on my way.]

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

            Jimin was already sitting on the swings when Taehyung finally made it to the park, his fingers tangled in the chain links as he swayed back and forth slowly, shoulders slumped and eyes on the ground as his feet drug through the small rocks. Taehyung paused, shutting his truck door quietly and just observed him for a moment, watched how the cool breeze blew his blonde bangs back, how his glasses reflected the glare from the streetlights, the way his small hands looked curled against cold metal. There was something about this whole scenario, as he slowly made his way over to where the other boy swung, that made Taehyung feel as if things were coming full circle finally. He felt as if he was at the end of some tiring loop that led him back to where things began, their old high school in view just around the corner tinging the night with nostalgia, more recent memories of the park making goosebumps break out across his skin. There was something within Taehyung that knew tonight was either the start or the end of whatever was going on between him and Jimin, he just wasn’t sure which way the scales would tilt yet. It was the promise of long awaited answers that kept his feet moving through the playground pebbles towards the blonde boy, Jimin looking up in alert at the sound.

            “Hey.” Taehyung called, his voice carrying even with how low it was. Jimin’s answering smile was timid but bright; he slid off the swing as Taehyung drew closer, patting off his jeans as if to remove playground dust.

            “Hi.” Jimin replied as Taehyung stopped in front of him, head tilting to make eye contact. Taehyung’s hands were in his jeans pockets to keep himself from fiddling nervously with his clothes, and he was suddenly thankful for that because he had the overwhelming urge to hug the blonde close. Jimin shifted on his feet, running a hand through his hair as he glanced around nervously. “Want to. . . go sit over there?” He gestured to the picnic tables not far from the swing set and Taehyung nodded silently, following after the smaller boy.

            Jimin swung his feet over the seat and sat down, his hands clasping nervously on the picnic tabletop, eyes on Taehyung as the blue haired boy hesitated. After a moment of deliberation, Taehyung ended up on the same side as Jimin, though he sat on the tabletop with his feet on the seat, elbows on his knees and chin in hand as he gazed calmly down at the blonde. This position let them eye each other, let them share the same intimate space without touching. Jimin seemed to swallow hard as he looked away, eyes on his hands as he bit his lip. “So.” Taehyung finally spoke after a few moments of silence. “Here we are.”

            “Here we are.” Jimin echoed softly, his voice catching on a sigh as he carded his fingers through his hair again, the silken strands glistening in the dull lighting.

            “Talk to me.” Taehyung’s voice was calm and soft, gently probing and the tone made Jimin finally glance up at him. “It’s just me, Jimin-ah.”

            “That’s why I’m so nervous.” Jimin’s laugh was hollow and shaky, and Taehyung couldn’t help but reach out and offer him his free hand. Jimin eyed it warily and Taehyung just smiled.

            “I’m nervous too. Just take a deep breath and start from the beginning.” Jimin finally took his hand, his smaller one easily engulfed by Taehyung’s larger palm, the younger boy gently stroking the back of his hand with a thumb. Jimin seemed to draw strength from this and he took a deep breath, eyes never leaving Taehyung’s.

            “How much do you remember Jihyunie telling you? About my past?”

            “Every word.”

            Jimin seemed a bit relieved to not have to start at the very beginning, smiling faintly. “Then you know what kind of a shit show my life was in Busan. People found out I was gay and gave me hell for it.”

            “Jihyun said some guy outed you. He had no right to do that to you, I’m sorry Jimin-ah.” Taehyung interjected quietly, the words he’d been dying to say for almost a year now finally breaking free. Jimin squeezed his hand tightly before nodding.

            “Thank you. The frustrating thing was he came on to me, not the other way around; before that I had no clue he was bi-curious, or that anyone else in our school was having the same sexuality crisis I had already worked through. And we ended up going on a couple dates too, before everything went downhill.”

            “So, what happened? Why did he become such an asshole?”

            Jimin’s lips quirked up at his words, laughing softly before sobering. “I’m not entirely sure. The day before the rumors spread, he kissed me for the first time. It was a quick peck, nothing to write home about, and I think it was more about him then it was about us. I always got the sense that he was trying to figure things out, like he wasn’t sure if he liked guys or not. But I was young and foolish, and when a boy finally showed interest in me, I disregarded all the warning signs. I was so excited.”

            “I think everything would have been fine if not for his friends catching us in the act. They snapped a blurry photo and confronted us. The photo was terrible, the lighting making it hard to see who the picture was of, but you could clearly identify me. He got scared and jumped up, yelling about how I had kissed him, that he’d told me not to, but I basically attacked him anyways. His friends were too ready to believe him over me, and I was too stunned to do or say anything. The next day, the rumors started and the photo was leaked. I became a pariah, some dirty, disgusting thing people wanted nothing to do with.”

            “It was hard, moving through school for the following weeks. People either called me names or ignored me, and there were a couple of times. . . well, punches hurt, but not as much as hatred does. I ended up skipping most of my club activities before finally quitting them, dropping out as student body president, and just trying to keep to myself. I figured the rumors would abate as time passed and things would get better if I was just patient. But that never happened, it just seemed to grow steadily worse.”

            “All of my friends, including Daeun, abandoned me, and I couldn’t find it in my heart to resent them for it because I understood; they didn’t want to get caught up in the hate I’d found myself in. It was self-preservation, and I got it even if it hurt. So, I was friendless. Then things started happening outside of school. I’d go into a restaurant and get skipped over, no one serving me until I left. Bookstores, gas stations, and grocery stores stopped helping me, and the only places I could buy things from were places with self-checkout stations because no one would even look at me. Everywhere I went I was either snubbed or glared at. I started to internalize that hate, finding parts about myself that I couldn’t stand. I felt fat and ugly, felt like my body was yet another reason for people to tease and bully me. So, I stopped eating, and it was easy because I didn’t even have the will to eat or sleep anymore. I was so tired.”

            Jimin sighed softly, eyes faraway as he thought of the past, Taehyung watching him with sad eyes, his lip trembling as he tried to steady his breathing. “Jihyun told you about the Showcase, right? I was so excited to perform, and on my birthday too. But. . . that didn’t happen. And after that night. . . something in me just gave up, gave in to all the hate. What was the point? This was my life now. I literally couldn’t go anywhere or do anything outside of school to make my school life bearable, there was no relief anywhere. Not even at home, where I was fighting with my parents literally all the time, to the point I’d leave home for days just to get away from them. Do you know how cold the beaches and parks are in Busan at night? Too cold to sleep. And I shut down. I stopped doing everything that made me feel alive and just existed in this blank, neutral state. I didn’t care for anything, certainly not myself. Time passed and it only got worse, it was like I was drowning in it. I was dying, slowly.”

            The blonde focused on Taehyung suddenly, a small smile slipping onto his face. “But then I met you and I could breathe again. I was sinking deep, deep down and then you were there pulling me back to the surface, resuscitating me and bringing me back to life. The move, the new school, the counselling, none of it would have helped if I hadn’t met you.”

            “Jimin. . .” Taehyung breathed softly, eyes shutting. “I didn’t. . .”

            “Taehyung, it was meeting you that saved me. I was so cold and standoffish, but you welcomed me with open arms and melted the black ice around my heart. Seeing you, out and proud, did something to me. You didn’t hide anything about yourself, and everyone liked and accepted you anyways; it was baffling to me, that Seoul was so much different than Busan, the way you could be yourself unapologetically. It was like a brand new world.”

            “And then there was just you. You did everything in your power to make me comfortable even though I was a loser who wouldn’t speak. And you never questioned it! You gave me your number for comfort when I was scared, invited me to go places, took an interest in my life! You introduced me to your friends, who later became my friends too, who loved me for me. And you were always so warm and affectionate, you made me so comfortable. I found myself craving your smile, your laugh, your touch, until all I could think about was you. I could have sworn it was a dream, that night at Seokjin’s, but the next day you were looking at me just like normal, but it was more intense, like you were finally letting it all show instead of keeping what you were feeling hidden. And it was so overwhelmingly good, I was on cloud nine. Getting to call you my boyfriend, the kisses and hand holding, the way you’d wrap me up in your arms and declare you’d never let me go, the way you seemed to desire both my body and my soul. . . it made me the happiest I’ve ever been in my whole life. You made me so, so happy, Taehyung-ah. Being yours, having you be mine, was everything to me.” Jimin’s eyes were glassy as he finally looked away from the blue haired boy, using his free hand to gently brush under his eyes and wipe away the dampness.

            Taehyung was feeling overcome with emotion, a storm raging inside him as he fought the desire to both hug Jimin tight and scream out his frustrations, his chest was moving rapidly and he finally opened his eyes, chest too tight and skin crawling as he gazed down at the blonde. It was a few moments before he could finally speak, the words coming out through gritted teeth. “Why then? Why did you leave after that night?” Jimin’s gaze shot up at the wounded sound in Taehyung’s voice, eyes wide. “I just got out of the hospital and gave you the stupid CD, and I asked if I’d see you at school the next day. . . You just kissed me and left, and that was it! You were gone! I went to your house the next day after school, I was scared and worried and I hoped I was wrong, but there was no one there! I had a panic attack, wondering what was wrong, what had happened, why I wasn’t good enough for you to stay and talk to me. What was wrong with me that you couldn’t just stay and let me lo—let me care about you!” Taehyung nearly cursed at the near slip, tearing his gaze away from Jimin’s as the tears started to fall. “I didn’t even know that was our last kiss, I barely remember it because of the drugs I was on. How fucked up is that? For all I knew, you were never coming back, and I could barely remember the last time we kissed, how it felt! You were like a ghost and sometimes, in my darkest moments, I wondered if I had just dreamed you up to cope with the fact that I was unlovable. That’s how I felt when you left without a word Jimin; empty, unworthy, and alone.”

            There was silence following his intense monologue, Taehyung’s breath coming out in shaky pants as he tried to catch his breath. Jimin’s shoulders trembled as tears flowed down his face, his grip on Taehyung’s hand ironclad as if he was afraid the younger boy would pull away. But Taehyung was too tired for that, too tired of the mystery that had been hanging over his head like a sword waiting to fall at any given moment. He was tired of being out of the loop, in the darkness without a trace of light. He needed to understand, even if by the end of this they went their separate ways. Taehyung needed all his puzzle pieces back so he could finally start putting himself back together again.

            “Please. . . just tell me why. Why did you leave, where did you go? Why did you run away from me when all I wanted was to support you?” His voice was soft and broken as he leaned forward with his free hand to wipe the tears off Jimin’s face with gentle fingers. Big brown eyes filled with regret matched the heartache in his own, the blonde crumbling before him as he finally spoke through his tears.

            “Seeing Daeun that night, after all that time. . . it just shook the foundation I’d been building myself in Seoul. Suddenly, all I could think of was Busan and the people I’d left behind, the realization that any of them could come here at any time and ruin my fragile sense of peace was alarming. I was spooked, I couldn’t see the Hyungs, or Jungkookie, or you, all I could see were those Busan hallways and all I could hear were the boos from that stage. The progress I’d made was gone in a blink of an eye, and I fled. And you followed you, you absolutely wonderful fool! You nearly scrambled your brains trying to keep me from running off, you literally injured yourself for me. But I still felt safe, I still had my walls because no one who mattered knew about Busan. It was still my very distant secret.”

            “But then I walked into that hospital room and Jihyun had told you everything. My secret was out, and I was scared, because now the person who mattered most knew everything about my horrible past. You knew everything, and I didn’t even get the chance to tell you it myself. Jihyun did what he thought was best, because you deserved to know, but I was too scared to let you that far in. I didn’t want you to see the ugliness of my past.”

            “But you were so accepting, you cried for me. You held me until I couldn’t cry anymore and fell asleep in your arms. The next morning you were so sweet and tender, you didn’t push me or even talk about the night before. You just wanted to make sure I was okay. And when I met you at your house, you had a gift for me. A gift for me, after everything that had just happened. You were in bed with a banged up cranium and you weren’t even thinking about yourself! It was almost infuriating how selfless you are.”

            “And that’s when I realized it. I wasn’t good enough for you.”

            Taehyung made an ugly noise in the back of his throat, opening his mouth to speak but Jimin just covered his mouth, tears falling steadily as he shook his head. “No, listen. You were the sun Taehyung, so warm and radiant. Everybody was drawn to your light because you were so heartbreakingly good. There’s not a mean, spiteful bone in your body. You were always helping others, making jokes, caring for the people around you without hesitation. And I was sitting there, as you smiled that beautiful smile at me, holding the CD containing the song you said was mine and it was so crystal clear to me. You needed someone who was whole, who could actually hold a damn conversation with you, and someone who could be open and honest about everything. And that wasn’t me, I didn’t know if it would ever be me because everything about me was broken.”

            “I was scared. . . because you already got hurt once for me. What if more people from my past showed up? What if someone was crazy enough to get violent and tried to hurt you? I couldn’t let that happen; I couldn’t be selfish enough to keep you next to me at the cost of yourself. You meant more to me then I meant to myself, and I wanted to protect you at all costs. So, I left that day and packed my bags. My family and I got into a screaming match for the first time since leaving Busan and I told them that they had a choice. Leave with me or leave me alone and consider me dead to them. My Abeoji cried and Eomeoni shouted, Jihyun was just silent in the living room with his face in his hands. Finally, they agreed, and we left that night. The staff cleaned up the house and boarded it up, and Abeoji put the house on the market to try and sell it a while after we left. Eomeoni picked a place in Incheon that suited her taste and we transferred there, Jihyun went to a local school and I resumed homeschooling. The only thing I said to Jihyun for six months was to never contact you again.”

            “I blocked your number, the guys numbers, I switched my social media and got a new phone number. I went out of my way to leave everything behind and start over again, but it was incredibly superficial. I thought about you all the time, I felt like I was dying. But surely, it was all worth it because you’d be safe and happy. You’d forget the mute boy from Busan and move on, find a great guy and marry him, have tons of kids and spend holidays at your grandparent’s strawberry farm. You’d be happy, and it was worth being miserable. But there was a part of me. . . that wanted so bad for you to come looking for me, which is so stupid because how were you supposed to find me? I made it impossible, I covered all my bases. But that part of me. . . it wanted to become someone who could be good enough for you.”

            “I started going out more, forcing myself out in public. I got back into counselling and took it seriously this time, because I wanted to get better. I wanted to stop being so emotionally inept that I couldn’t keep a meaningful relationship in my life, I wanted to become. . . me again. I wanted to be Park Jimin, and I wanted to be proud of that fact. The near year I was gone was one of the hardest in my life, but I was on medication at one point for anxiety, and it got me through the worst of it. I was able to get off the meds and started talking again, slowly but surely. I threw myself into dance and started singing again, and my motivation was you Taehyung-ah. I wanted to make you proud, even if you’d forgotten me.”

            “I worked hard to get my grades back up and graduate on time. I thought if I could do that and get into Seoul University then I could try and find you again, beg on my hands and knees for you to take me back. Or at least be my friend. But as university got closer and I was accepted, I started to have doubts. What if you had moved on so completely that you couldn’t stand to see my face? What if you were in a relationship already and me showing up ruined your happiness? And there was still the possibility you could be hurt from someone in my past. . . and the closer school got to starting the closer I got to convincing myself to forget the whole thing. I was sure you were better off without me.”

            “So, I went to school with no preconceived notions of how the year would go. I harbored a secret hope of seeing you on the streets or maybe meeting one of the Hyungs or Kookie on campus, somehow forcing my way back into the mix. I expected nothing. But then suddenly there was a tap on my shoulder as I was calling a ride and a deep, deep voice that sent shivers down my spine. Taehyung, seeing you there was the most shocking moment of my life. You were tan and blue haired, so incredibly beautiful I forgot how to breath, how to think, how to talk. I was elated and shocked and scared, wondering if you’d recognize me. And for a moment I hoped you wouldn’t, so that smile wouldn’t dim or turn to disgust. But to my shock. . . you kept smiling even as Jungkook glared at me. You were kind and sweet, just like always and then you were gone. And I couldn’t. . . just let you disappear like that! So, I gave chase and found you crying and puking and. . . I’d never felt as bad as I did in that moment. I realized with startling clarity that I had hurt you worse than anyone in my past could have.”

            “I shouldn’t have touched you then, and I shouldn’t have tricked you into meeting me that night. But I was so. . . so incredibly hung up on having you there in front of me. You were real, not just a picture on a cell phone or a memory in my past. You were real and solid, and looking like an angel sent from the gates of heaven. I. . . I kept wanting to touch you, to make sure you were real. And when you yelled at me, I deserved it. I deserved all of it. If you hate me, it’s okay because I’m a terrible person for what I did to you. I saw the way your face just. . . shattered and realized that I had broken things between us for good because I was a stupid, cowardly boy who was too afraid of his past to embrace his future. You were everything to me, and I wanted that again. But despite everything I did to make myself whole, to put my pieces back together, I’m not even close to being good enough for you. I’m not sure anyone is, because you’re better than us all, Taehyung-ah. You are so purely good. And I am so incredibly sorry that I hurt you like I did. I would take it all back if it could save you the pain and hurt, I would go through Busan again and again if it meant erasing what I did. Nothing I say or do can ever make it up to you, I know that. But I’m still so, so sorry.”

            Jimin was sobbing in earnest at this point, his body bowed towards the tabletop with his arms wrapped tight around his middle as if to hold himself together. Taehyung stared wide eyed at the blonde, mind spinning with all the information he just absorbed, a tear slipping out every now and again. The park was silent except for Jimin’s soft sobs, the older boy rocking slightly in his grief, curled as tight as possible, his hands white knuckled against his ribcage. Taehyung’s heart thudded painfully at the sight, his throat burning with tears as he watched the display, the utter agony apparent in Jimin.

            But was it enough? Jimin’s story rang with truth, and Taehyung appreciated having all the details now, but what should he do with the knowledge? His heart screamed for him to forget the past, to move past it, but his head was wary. Jimin. . . he left him once, would he leave him again? How much could he trust the blonde in front of him? He wanted the person he trusted with his heart to be worthy of it this time, and he was afraid Jimin wouldn’t be there to catch him when he fell. He couldn’t take another betrayal, because that’s what it had been. Taehyung was so happy to hear that Jimin had found the help he needed, but he was bitter because. . . he wanted to be there for him. He wanted to hold Jimin’s hand through counselling and through trying to become whole again, he wanted to be his rock when things were rough. But Jimin hadn’t trusted him. Could they build something off that lack of trust? Was love enough? Taehyung took a deep breath and let his eyes fall closed. His head made the perfect argument, had made the most sense out of anything and everything he had heard that night.

            But Taehyung never did make a habit of listening to his head.

            The blue haired boy pushed himself off the tabletop, hopping down to land on the ground; Jimin flinched at the sound and his shoulders shook harder as he gasped out a harsher sob, trying to curl into himself more. He was whispering wet apologies under his breath, soft pleas for Taehyung to not go and the blue haired boy chuckled fondly at the smaller boy. He straddled the seat beside Jimin, his arms coming up and around Jimin’s shoulders and waist to pull the smaller boy tight against his chest.

            Jimin’s sound of surprise was soft and choked as his cheek hit Taehyung’s shoulder, the blue haired boy’s chin hooking over his head to press his cheek against Jimin’s soft hair. He flailed for a moment before his hands found purchase on one of Taehyung’s thighs, gripping tightly as his breath caught. Taehyung wrapped him tighter in his arms, breathing in deeply and filling his lungs with the citrusy smell of Jimin’s cologne. The blonde seemed stunned, not moving even as Taehyung pressed a kiss to the top of his head and scooted closer.

            “For such a smart guy, you sure are an idiot Jiminie.” Taehyung said softly, running a hand soothingly along Jimin’s rib cage, his other hand gently holding Jimin’s head to his shoulder. “You ran away to fix yourself; I get it. And I’m so proud of all the progress you’ve made. But damn it Jimin, we could have done that together! We could have worked through it all together, fuck all that came after. You didn’t have to go through it alone. I would have been there for you, I wanted to be there for you. That year was the hardest of my life, I was so sure that I’d made the wrong move, that I’d fucked something up and sent you sprinting in the other direction. And most of all I missed you so damn much. When you left, you didn’t just leave me as my boyfriend. You were my best friend too, hell, the guys swore we were soulmates.”

            “’Were’?” Jimin’s voice was shaky and Taehyung could feel his face crumpling against his shoulder again. “I’m so sorry Taetae, I fucked it all up. . . I don’t deserve you—”

            “Well, that’s not really your decision to make, is it?” Taehyung interrupted, taking Jimin’s shoulders in his hands and pushing his back so he could look him in the eyes, expression serious. “You don’t get to decide that for me, that’s my decision. And yeah, you really did fuck it up Jimin-ah. We spent almost a year apart, both of us hurting and being miserable and for what? Nothing we couldn’t accomplish together. Your mental health is important to me, but mine is too, and I can’t handle a repeat of all the bullshit.”

            “What are you saying?” Jimin’s tears had finally slowed, his eyes puffy and cheeks flushed, tear tracks prevalent along his skin.

            “I’m saying thank you. For being honest with me and telling me everything. It was a long time coming and. . . I understand why you did what you did, even if it was seriously the most screwed up thing anyone has ever done to me.” Jimin winced at Taehyung’s brutal honesty, turning his head to look away. Taehyung caught his chin and turned his face to face him again, waiting until their eyes met to continue. “I forgive you Jiminie.”

            Jimin’s voice was soft and breathy as he asked, “You do?”

            “I do.” Taehyung took a deep breath before continuing. “But I don’t trust you right now. You hurt me really bad, and it’s going to take a long time for me to move past that, even though I do forgive you.”

            Jimin’s eyes were sad as he nodded as best he could with Taehyung gripping his chin, sighing. “I know that, and I’m ready to spend all my time proving to you that you can trust me again. I know it might take a long time, but I want to try to show you if you’ll allow me that.”

            Taehyung’s smile was small but bright and he could see the blonde wilt slightly at the sight. “I would really like that. I miss my best friend.”

            “I miss you too, Tae.” Jimin was smiling back now, though it was dimmer than normal even if he looked happier. “I know right now might not be the right time to ask this, but I just need to know. . . is there a chance? For us, one day?” He bit his lip, eyes closing as his cheeks colored with embarrassment. “I know that might not be a fair question, I’m asking a lot but—”

            Taehyung leaned in without hesitation and pressed his lips to Jimin’s softly, both hands coming up to cup the smaller boy’s jaw tenderly as their lips moved carefully in sync. The kiss was sweet and chaste, Taehyung drawing back after a few moments to smile at the blushing blonde. He waited until Jimin’s breathing evened and his eyes opened slowly before he replied. “Yeah. Yeah, there’s a hell of a chance for us Jiminie. But. . . maybe we should try being friends first again for a while and see where it goes. I’m asking you to be patient with me. . . but—”

            “You’re worth it. I’ll wait forever if I have to Taehyungie.” Jimin interrupted breathlessly, his smile effervescent as that champagned colored laugh left his plush lips. “Just make the first move when—if you’re ready.” He corrected himself, a small hand coming up to cover his face shyly and Taehyung just laughed, resting their forehead’s together with a warm smile.

            “I’ll let you know when I’m ready, Chim. You can count on that.”

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

            Taehyung was only able to keep his and Jimin’s friendship a secret from the rest of the guys for a week before he got too impatient to bring the group back together. They were sitting around Namjoon and Seokjin’s dining room table eating when Taehyung suddenly stood, his chopsticks laying forgotten on his plate as his hands smacked down on the table top with a loud thud. Hoseok jumped, shrieking as he fell into Yoongi’s side, Jungkook startling lightly and giving the older boy a look. Taehyung gave a dramatic sigh, running his hand through his freshly dyed silvery lavender hair. “Okay. Confession time.”

            “Tae, we already know about the packing peanuts incident.” Namjoon sighed, adjusting his glasses. Taehyung gave the older boy a doubletake before turning to glare at Jungkook.

            “Damn it Kookie, is nothing sacred?” The brunet was snickering, and Taehyung just shook his head. “But no, that’s not the confession I was talking about!”

            “You already told us about the time you—” Seokjin started and Taehyung immediately interrupted him by whining.

            “It’s none of my past shenanigans, damn it! Everyone shut it and listen to me!” Taehyung surveyed the table with a pout to make sure everyone was quiet and paying attention before continuing. “I’m on speaking terms with Jimin-ah again. We hashed everything out a week ago and decided to try being friends again.” With a satisfied smile despite the others stupefied looks, Taehyung sat and picked up his chopsticks again, resuming eating with gusto. There was a long moment of silence before all hell broke loose.

            “What?!” Jungkook shouted, standing up out of his seat rapidly, ignoring Yoongi’s look. Hoseok had gasped, his hand over his mouth as he tugged repeatedly on Yoongi’s jacket sleeve in surprise.

            “A week ago? And you’re just now telling us?” Seokjin sounded offended, his brow furrowed as Namjoon just let out a soft, “Wow”.

            “Nice.” Yoongi finally said after the various noises died down, giving Taehyung an unperturbed thumbs up as he shoveled rice into his mouth; Hoseok gave his boyfriend a surprised look before turning to Taehyung.

            “What happened, Taehyung-ah?” He asked curiously, eyes wide.

            “Well, the day we kissed I opened the little notes he’d been giving me—”

            “Sickeningly sweet, all twenty seven of them.” Yoongi interjected, rolling his eyes. “I almost developed diabetes reading them.”

            “You saw them? I want to see them! Why did he get to see them?” Seokjin whined suddenly, looking at Taehyung with an envious and put out expression. Taehyung opened his mouth to respond but Yoongi beat him to the punch.

            “Because you’re a gossip, Jin-hyung.” Yoongi replied with a teasing grin, laughing when the older boy threw a napkin at him.

            “Jesus, this is like herding cats.” Taehyung rubbed his temples dramatically, before he banged on the table to recapture everyone’s attention again. “Anyways! I read the notes and all of them had. . . stuff on them, that’s too embarrassingly sweet to repeat to you uncivilized beasts, and I sent him a text. We chatted a bit before agreeing to meet to talk things out once and for all.”

            “How do you feel about the talk?” Namjoon’s tone was soft and concerned. Taehyung smiled warmly at him.

            “I feel good about it. It answered a lot of my questions not only about his past but why he disappeared. It was a hard talk, but necessary for us to move forward.”

            “Can we. . .” Hoseok started to ask before cutting himself off, biting his lip anxiously. Taehyung understood what he wanted to ask though and nodded.

            “I already talked to Jimin-ah and he’s okay with me sharing the whole story with you guys. He wants you all to know.”

            “Yeah? Then why isn’t he here to tell us himself?” Jungkook finally spoke up again, his tone dark and mean as he glared at the lavender haired boy. Taehyung gave him a look back before replying.

            “It was my idea actually; I figured some of you would be too hostile to listen to a word he says. He agreed to let me tell his story, so shut up and listen you brat!” With another pointed look at Jungkook, Taehyung began the story. It took a long time for Taehyung to tell it, and he had to stop a few times to gather himself as he delved into Jimin’s past. He pitied the others as they went through the crazy array of emotions without much time to process it, at least he’d had almost a year to absorb it; Hoseok and Namjoon teared up near the beginning, Yoongi going blank halfway through, and Seokjin not bothering to hide how aghast and infuriated he was by the whole story. Jungkook was strangely quiet, his eyes focused on the tabletop, but he seemed to be listening so Taehyung was thankful for that at least. When Taehyung had finally finished filling them all in, they sat there in deafening silence, his friends looking as if they’d aged years since the conversation began.

            Yoongi was the first one to speak, his voice rough and scratchy. “It’s incredible, the amount of hatred this world has for people who dare to be different, who dare to be their own person.”

            “I can’t even process. . . he went through so much. He had no one.” Hoseok’s words were a whimper before he was turning to cry quietly into Yoongi’s shoulder, the dark haired boy wrapping an arm around him tight and soothingly stroking his hair.

            Seokjin was pacing beside the table, ignoring Namjoon’s outstretched hand. “What a bunch of. . . Joon. Scratch Busan beach off our list of honeymoon places! I’m never stepping foot in that fucking backwards town again!” The older boy whipped around to face Taehyung suddenly, pointing aggressively. “What’s that kid’s name? He fucked with the wrong family, I’m going to make him wish he was never born.”

            “Here, here.” Yoongi muttered darkly, brow furrowed.

            “Jimin-ah never said.” Taehyung rested his chin on his hand with a soft sigh. “Trust me, I’d love to find that punk ass too. But he wouldn’t tell me his name, something about finally leaving the past in the past where it belongs. I don’t know, I started zoning out when he got all Zen on me.” Hoseok, who’d recovered enough that he was no longer crying, waggled his eyebrows playfully at Taehyung, making the lavender haired boy groan. “Not like that, you perverts. We’re just friends.”

            “It’s hard to believe you two could be anything starting with ‘just’.” Yoongi mumbled, almost to himself.

            “Well, it’s true. I understand why he did what he did, I truly get it and empathize with him. But. . . I don’t trust him, not right now. Maybe not for a long time. So, we decided it’d be better to just be friends.” The looks that comment got were disillusioned and doubtful, making the lavender haired boy pout. “Guys, stop! It’s true. And I’m perfectly capable of just being friends with Jiminie.” He was met with immediate dismissals, making him throw his hands up in annoyance. “I am! We were just friends in the beginning anyways.”

            “That’s hardly proof. You wanted to bone him since day one.” Yoongi immediately replied, smirking. “You were whipped since the beginning.”

            “True.” Hoseok agreed, laughing when Taehyung shot him a dirty look.

            “Kook? You okay?” Namjoon was leaning around Seokjin to give the silent brunet a concerned look. Jungkook was still frozen, his eyes vacant even as the others joked around. “Jungkook-ah?”

            “Hey Kookie, you in there?” Taehyung reached out and gently set a hand on the brunet’s shoulder, startling when the younger boy jumped to his feet in response. Jungkook hurried around the table and headed into the living room, disappearing around the corner. They could hear the sound of the balcony door sliding open and slamming shut, leaving silence behind him. The older boys exchanged looks and Taehyung stood, tossing his napkin on his plate. “I got this one.”

            Jungkook was leaning on the railing, his face hidden behind his hands when Taehyung found him, shoulders scrunched together and tight. The wind was cooling off as it got later in the year, the nights steadily growing chillier and longer; Taehyung shivered lightly as he joined Jungkook at the railing, wishing he had thought to grab his jacket before following the younger boy out. Jungkook made no sound as Taehyung stood there, the only noise around them coming from the streets below as cars raced by and pedestrians hurried home after work. Taehyung hummed lightly before leaning closer, nudging Jungkook with his shoulder. “What’s up?” Jungkook didn’t respond and slid farther away from Taehyung, angling his face and hands away from him. The lavender haired boy pouted and scooted closer again, nudging him once more, voice singsong. “Kookie!” Jungkook slid away and Taehyung moved closer, the game continuing until Jungkook was trapped against the wall, Taehyung leaning impossibly closer with a grin. “Stop ignoring me, I’m needy!”

            “Stop Taehyung, seriously! Fuck!” Jungkook finally snapped, uncovering his face and shoving Taehyung away from him. The lavender haired boy had been anticipating the shove and stood steady, not moving too much even with Jungkook’s strength. “You’re so annoying!”

            “I know, it’s a gift.” He joked playfully before sobering. “Kook-ah, talk to me. What’s going on in that thick skull?”

            “Nothing! Leave me alone.” Jungkook returned to the railing, his lips set in a firm line and his eyes hard. Despite the show, Taehyung could see the dampness in his eyes and the way his lip trembled, his fingers shaking where they were clamped around the railing.

            “It’s okay, Jungkook. I promise.”

            The brunet turned to glare at him, gaze hateful even as his jaw worked. “What are you even talking about?”

            “He’s not upset with you, you know. He understands why you’re upset.”

            “Shut up Tae, you’re not a mind reader. You have no idea what’s going on in my head!”  

            Taehyung hummed thoughtfully, eyes going up to the sky, focusing on the fluffy white clouds in a slowly darkening canvas as he rested his chin in his hands. “It’s perfectly normal to be angry and hurt. He didn’t expect you to welcome him with open arms, you know.”

            “Stop it! Fucking stop!”

            “You probably don’t even have to apologize; I know he misses your friendship. He really cares for you, like a little brother. I bet if you just—” Hands grabbing the collar of his t-shirt were pulling him around and tugging him towards Jungkook, the boy’s face lit up with anger as he shook the lavender haired boy aggressively.

            “Shut up! Butt the hell out Tae, I’m serious! Don’t say another—”

            “Jimin-ah loves you Kookie, he wants you back. He misses you. And he’s not angry with you, I promise.” Taehyung’s voice was soft and sincere; the brunet just stared at him for a long moment before his face was crumpling and the older boy sighed softly, pulling Jungkook into a hard hug.

            “He’s not mad?”

            “Never.”

            “Promise?”

            “I promise.”

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

Park Jimin

[Hope you’re having fun at movie night! ^.^]

[Did you end up telling them about us being friends again? And. . . about me?]

Kim Taehyung

[yeah I did, what apartment number was yours again?]

Park Jimin

[Why??]

Kim Taehyung

[excuse you, I’ll be asking the questions here]

[answer the question Jiminie!!]

Park Jimin

[Unit 6, why?]

[Taehyung?]

[I’m scared.]

Kim Taehyung

[ah, THAT’S where I fucked up, apartment 9 is pissed]

[open up in t-minus ten seconds]

            Taehyung had a bright, boxy grin on his face as Jimin threw the door open to his apartment, eyes wide with shock as Taehyung and Namjoon tossed glittery confetti in the air with a cheer, Hoseok and Seokjin blowing on noise makers as Yoongi and Jungkook pulled party poppers. The noise was loud as confetti drifted all over the place and blanketed the entryway, Taehyung throwing his arms up in the air as the six boys shouted out, “Surprise!” with glee. Jimin’s hands came up to cover his mouth and partially hide his eyes, staring at them as he turned pink.

            Only Taehyung could make out the blonde’s soft, “Oh my god.”

            “Here’s your welcome back party! Can we come in so apartment nine doesn’t come after us with a broom?” Taehyung was grinning even as he glanced warily back the way they’d come. “He didn’t appreciate the confetti.” The blonde was stunned into silence and he nodded stepping back to allow them in, Taehyung moving in for a hug with a grin. “Surprised?”

            Before Jimin could respond or Taehyung could wrap him up in an embrace, Seokjin was pushing through, nearly shoving Taehyung over the back of Jimin’s couch in his haste to get between them and pull the younger boy into a hard hug. “Jimin-ah, my child, you’ve returned!” He released the flustered blonde with a big smile, throwing an arm around Jimin’s shoulders and leading him farther into his own apartment like a host as they all shuffled in, the eldest boy ignoring the look Taehyung was giving him as he straightened up off the couch with a pout. “Jimin-ah, Jimin-ah, why didn’t the melons get married?”

            Jimin looked shocked and a little bemused as he seemed to reply on instinct, though it was almost too soft to hear. “I don’t know, why?”

            “Because they cantaloupe!” Seokjin’s laugh was squeaky, his face scrunched up in glee as everyone groaned at the lame joke. Jimin just stared at him for a long moment, eyes wide open before they were shutting at the force of his smile, his laughter like wind chimes as he fell into the older boy’s side.

            Seokjin looked incredibly smug and satisfied as his laughter died off and he shook Jimin by his shoulders. “Jimin-ah, what do you call an illegally parked frog?” He didn’t even wait for Jimin to reply before he answered himself excitedly. “Toad!” Jimin’s knees buckled as he laughed, the older boy holding him up as he laughed his windshield wiper laugh.

            “Jesus Christ, those are terrible, Jin-hyung.” Yoongi sighed as he moved forward to tug Jimin out from under Seokjin’s arm.

            “I have a lot of time to make for, he missed a ton of my best material. Jimin-ah, listen to this—”

            “Please, Jin, I’m begging.” Namjoon whined, slumping against his fiancé’s back, arms around Seokjin’s waist. The older boy huffed before pinning Jimin with a stare.

            “Later.”

            Jimin’s answering smile was shy but happy, disappearing from view when Yoongi pulled him into a hug. “Hi Jimin-ah.” Yoongi said softly, holding the blonde for a moment longer before he was pulling back with a warm smile. “Good to have you back.” Jimin opened his mouth to reply just as Hoseok came flying out of nowhere behind him, his legs hooking around Jimin’s waist and his arms around the blonde’s neck. Jimin teetered dangerously, Yoongi steadying him as Hoseok nuzzled his neck with a happy sound.

            “Hi Jimin! I’m so sorry for how I acted when we saw each other at the coffee shop! Can you forgive me?” When the blonde nodded, Hoseok crowed with delight and pressed a kiss to his cheek before his mouth took off at a sprint. “Never leave us again! I missed you, dance isn’t nearly as fun without you! You’ll come back right? Because we need a third person to fill a spot for the show we’ll be having in November, and if you’re going to take the spot, we’ll need to teach you the—”

            “Hobi, let him breathe.” Yoongi laughed, slowly detaching Hoseok from Jimin, limb from limb until Hoseok was slumped in his arms pouting, pressing a quick kiss to the apple of his cheek. Jimin’s eyes were wide as he stared at them, turning to grin at Taehyung as he motioned to the couple.

            “Hi Jimin-ah.” Namjoon let his fiancé go, moving to give the blonde a shy hug, cheeks pink. “I’m. . . sorry too.” He rubbed the back of his neck and Jimin just laughed and shook his head, reaching over to squeeze the bespectacled boy’s left hand. The bite of metal got the blonde’s attention and he lifted the hand with wide eyes, grinning up at Namjoon before beaming at Seokjin.

            Seokjin laughed, holding up his left hand a wiggling his fingers so the light danced off the diamond on his ring finger. “He liked it, so he put a ring on it.” He said with a wink, Namjoon groaning and covering his face, though he couldn’t hide his pleased smile.

            “Hyung.” Jungkook’s voice was soft and timid, the younger boy flushing in embarrassment when Taehyung and the five other boys immediately twisted to face him, eyebrows raised. “Jimin-hyung.” He clarified, shoving his hands in the pockets of his jeans, his baggy white t-shirt making him look smaller than he was where he stood nervously stooped. “I. . . I’m sorry. I, um. . . I feel really bad that I. . . I’m just so. . .” Jungkook’s wavering voice was cut off when Jimin moved in front of him, the younger boy seeming to clam up and hold his breath. The blonde eyed him for a long moment before giving him a warm smile and throwing his arms around Jungkook’s neck, squeezing him hard. Jungkook was stunned for a moment before he hugged him back, ducking his head to press it against Jimin’s shoulder and hide his damp eyes.

            “Aww.” Taehyung cooed as he walked over, throwing his arms around Jungkook and Jimin, an arm around Jungkook’s neck and the other snaked around the blonde’s waist. “Group hug!” Yoongi whined as Hoseok pulled him forward, though he threw himself into the hug just as exuberantly as his boyfriend, Namjoon and Seokjin joining the fold immediately. There was a lot of laughter and swaying, Jungkook whining, Yoongi cursing, Jimin’s wind chime giggle, and Taehyung’s low cry of delight. The lavender haired boy was happy, in this moment, as he was trapped in a hug surrounded by his best friends in the whole world. It was a long time coming, but he felt as if things were finally right again. It was another long few moments before they were finally separating, bright smiles filling the room with light and cheeks pink with delight. Taehyung caught Jimin’s eye and winked playfully, the blonde covering his face with both hands, but not before the younger boy saw the sparkle of happy tears in his eyes.

            “Okay Jimin-ah, lay it on us.” Seokjin finally declared once the room had quieted down marginally (things would never be silent with this group, Taehyung was happy to realize). At the blonde’s confused look, Seokjin just grinned. “Talk to us! Some of us haven’t been graced with your voice, which is both tragic and unfair. Speech!”

            “Speech!” Jungkook echoed excitedly, eyes sparkling with mirth. Jimin stared at all of them for a long moment before he was smiling his crescent moon smile, a champagne colored laugh bubbling up from the depths of his soul.

            “I missed you guys, so much.” Seokjin, Jungkook, and Hoseok let out a cry of delight as the blonde finally spoke, Yoongi’s eyes widening with joy as he smiled. Jimin wiped at his eyes quickly as he continued. “I’m sorry, about everything. I was so scared to end up alone and friendless, but I almost did that to myself. I swear to you all I’ll never do anything like that ever again. I’m here to stay, as long as you’ll have me.” His warm brown eyes met Taehyung’s as he finished his declaration, and the lavender haired boy felt himself warm, a happy, gooey feeling filling his stomach.

            He could almost believe it. Time, he told himself as he smiled back at the blonde.

            “We missed you too.” Namjoon offered, resting a hand on Jimin’s shoulder and squeezing it before his fiancé leaned on him hard, nearly toppling him to the ground. “Jin!”

            “I’m starved. Let’s order food. What does everyone want?”

            “Meat!” Jungkook crowed, bouncing around excitedly, joined by a giggling Hoseok.

            “I second meat, if the Hyungs are buying!” Taehyung called cheekily, not hearing the response as Jimin sidled up to him with a smile. Taehyung couldn’t help but notice how cute he looked, in his black drawstring joggers and white tank top covering in an abstract graphic design. His arms were on display and Taehyung couldn’t help but appreciate the very apparent corded muscles and flawless skin, the way the tank top was just a hair short of being long enough, the smooth skin below his belly button on display when the hem raised as he ran a hand through blonde locks with a shy smile. He had a hard time tearing his eyes away from that strip of skin, Jimin’s eyes dancing with amusement and he couldn’t help but give a not so apologetic boxy smile. “Hi.”

            “So, you made Mr. Lee in apartment nine mad huh?”

            “He’s not a fan of glitter. Or confetti. Or noise makers. Or six random boys screaming at him; fun too, probably.”

            Jimin’s laugh made Taehyung grin. “How did you mess my apartment number up?”

            “To be fair, you only told me once!”

            “Three times, Tae.”

            “Well, I’m dyslexic.”

            “I told you to your face, not through text!” Jimin was laughing in earnest now, and Taehyung felt warm as he held him up by his elbows. “You’re a mess, Kim Taehyung.”

            “Yeah, but you like me anyway.” Taehyung immediately flushed, looking away. “Whoops, my bad. Friends.”

            Jimin’s eyes were shining and his lips twitched with amusement as he nodded. “Friends.” Taehyung went to release him and Jimin was suddenly winding his arms around Taehyung’s neck, making the lavender haired boy freeze in surprise. Soft lips brushed his ear as Jimin said softly to him, “I never got my hug, Seokjin-hyung interrupted it, remember?”

            Taehyung considered this for a moment before he smiled and wrapped his arms around Jimin’s slender waist and hugged him tight before replying. “True. And friends hug.”

            “They do.” Jimin’s voice was filled with amusement and suppressed laughter as he hugged Taehyung tighter, his body fitting against Taehyung’s like a missing puzzle piece. The younger boy sighed and pulled him in closer, Jimin’s shirt riding up enough that the soft skin of Jimin’s back was warm under Taehyung’s arms, his thumbs skimming across the exposed flesh lightly and making Jimin shiver in his embrace. Taehyung knew the hug had moved far past friendly at that point and a part of him was screaming for him to pull away, but the larger part that felt more like his heart then his head practically purred at the contact. Jimin’s citrusy scent was mixed with the smell of his laundry detergent and the minty smell of his shampoo, making his head spin. “By the way, I love the new color.” Jimin said softly in his ear, his hand coming up to thread through the strands at the back of Taehyung’s head and the younger boy had to suppress a groan at how good that felt.

            “Looking reeeeal friendly over there, Hyungs.” Jungkook’s voice called and shattered the moment, Jimin drawing back quickly with a blush and taking a quick step away. Taehyung could feel the warmth of his cheeks as he was pinned with amused looks that reeked of ‘I told you so’ and he pouted faintly at the others, watching as Jimin scampered away to show Yoongi to the kitchen.

            “Drinks?” He called, a little breathless as he disappeared. The others called replies quickly, Seokjin stepping outside to order the food, and Taehyung just flopped out on Jimin’s couch and covered his face. The couch depressed beside him and Hoseok’s voice was a tad bit smug as he spoke.

            “So, ‘just friends’, huh?”

            Taehyung groaned. “This is going to be harder than I thought.”

            Jimin took that moment to pop his head out around the doorway with a sweet smile. “Taetae, do you want a coke?” Taehyung nodded, smiling weakly as the blonde disappeared back into the kitchen, his tinkling laugh carrying over Yoongi’s guffaw.

            “A LOT harder than I thought.”

            Hoseok just laughed at him.

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

            They fell into a steady rhythm over the next few weeks; Jimin started joining them for Saturday movie nights again despite his reservations, Taehyung not allowing his shyness to get the best of him. He was happy to have their group of seven whole again, to have Jimin’s friendship back, and it was almost as if no time at all had passed. Pretty soon, it was rare to find Taehyung without the short blonde boy at his side, the two nearly connected at the hip with how often they were together. Taehyung was happy though, when Jimin was around he felt as if he was whole, like a piece of him that had been missing was sliding back into place. He missed the blonde when he couldn’t make it to game nights or dinners, and he found himself lurking around the dance studio more often to watch Hoseok, Jungkook, and Jimin practice for the show in November. Jimin would join him in the art studio as he painted or follow him around the botanical gardens as he snapped photos, their conversation light and easy.

            Though Taehyung was beginning to realize just how hard it was to remain platonic with the other boy when it was so easy to slip. They’d be walking and he’d reach over to take the other’s hand before remembering himself, always flushing and hurrying faster towards their destination, Jimin having to jog to keep up. When they hung out at Jimin’s apartment, watching movies or playing video games, Taehyung made sure to keep a careful amount of space between them after they fell asleep once and he woke up with their arms around each other and legs intertwined. He had to physically work to keep their hugs short and to the point, to keep his eyes from following the blonde as he’d flit from place to place, to actually pay attention when he spoke instead of staring at him dumbly in a lovesick haze. It was all very stressful, and Jimin’s amusement at his pain wasn’t helping.

            Jimin’s birthday came quickly and the group of boys were not letting him hide away this year. Hoseok, Namjoon, and Seokjin were taking care of the food and party plans for the evening, Seokjin baking a cake that morning with delight while Taehyung, Yoongi, and Jungkook stormed his apartment and let themselves in (Yoongi had a particular set of skills that were both admirable and terrifying; it was a good reminder to Taehyung to watch his mouth and stay on his good side). They found Jimin still in bed, awake but sulking, and Taehyung and Jungkook wasted no time before they were jumping on the bed. Jimin shrieked in surprise, the jumping jostling him as the three boys sang happy birthday (the younger boys filled with excitement, Yoongi almost resigned), struggling to sit up.

            “What are you guys doing here? How did you get in?!” Jimin finally managed to say, his voice muffled as Taehyung fell heavily on top of him, wrapping his long limbs around the smaller boy. Taehyung laughed as Jimin struggled to get away, biting his shoulder playfully.

            “Happy birthday Jiminie! Time to get up, today’s your day and we’re celebrating!” He responded, Jungkook whooping it up in the background. Yoongi had laid down on the bed looking drowsy and Taehyung’s mind was divided between cheering and wondering if they fucked up by letting Yoongi be horizontal. “What do you want to do today?”

            “What if I want to stay in bed?” Jimin questioned, pouting lightly even as his eyes glittered playfully; Taehyung grinned down at him, his fingers lightly tickling the older boy’s sides. “We could stay here all day, Tae. Just imagine it.” He coaxed, and Taehyung felt the older boy stretch slowly beneath him, smirking up at him. Taehyung bit his lip at the innuendo, cheeks pinking lightly even as Jimin giggled.

            “Nope, sorry. Not gonna happen, old man.” Jungkook cried out in disgust, grabbing the lavender haired boy by his ankles and yanking him down towards the end of the bed (he miscalculated that move a bit, in Taehyung’s opinion, as the yank dragged him halfway down Jimin’s body, his face ending up right over the birthday boy’s crotch. Jimin had turned beet red and Taehyung fell off the bed in his haste to move away, the other two boys in the room cackling with laughter). Jungkook was grinning as Jimin sat up with his face in his hands, ears red, and Taehyung quickly got up off the floor, brushing his ass off and resolutely ignoring the look Yoongi was shooting him.

            “Anyways. Birthday. We’re gonna have fun.” Taehyung froze at his word choice, rushing to continue. “Fun as in a good time, like, outside of this room. Not in your room, but with the guys? Platonically, all seven of us. Not in bed. And—”

            “Dear god, please shut up. I did not need that mental image.” Yoongi groaned as he stood up, rubbing his face with his hands as Jungkook howled with laughter. “Jimin-ah, get dressed. We’ll be waiting outside, yeah?” Yoongi hauled the youngest boy out of the room, shooting Taehyung one more amused smirk before leaving the two alone. Taehyung felt hot all over with embarrassment, side eyeing Jimin as the blonde finally looked up and blew out a hard sigh, cheeks red as he ran a hand through his hair. His knees were bent under the blankets and he wrapped his arms around them before glancing up at Taehyung.

            “Surprised?” Taehyung asked finally, his boxy smile back as he shed the embarrassment like a second skin, sitting on the edge of Jimin’s bed near the boy’s feet. Jimin looked sleepy still, eyes puffy and hair an endearing mess, and he had to fight not to pull the older boy into his arms.

            “Always. Never a dull moment with this crowd.” Jimin joked, his voice still slightly raspy as he covered his mouth on a yawn. “I wasn’t expecting all this.”

            “You haven’t seen anything yet.” Taehyung teased playfully, laughing when Jimin groaned and let his forehead hit his knees. Reaching a hand out slowly, Taehyung gently brushed blonde strands off Jimin’s forehead with a fond smile, the older boy leaning into the touch as he lifted his head to meet the lavender haired boy’s gaze. “Happy birthday, Jiminie.” Taehyung’s voice was lower than normal, soft and silky; Jimin seemed to shudder lightly, biting his lip.

            “Thanks, Taetae.” Jimin’s eyes fell closed as Taehyung’s hand drifted down to brush along his cheekbone and along his jaw, slowly and carefully.

            “You should get ready, you’ve got people and presents waiting on you.” Taehyung smiled at the older boy, though it fell quickly at the look in Jimin’s eyes as they opened, dark and endless.

            “Presents, huh? Did you get me something?”

            “I did.” Taehyung confirmed, swallowing hard as Jimin shifted closer.

            “I don’t want a gift from you Tae.” Jimin’s voice had dropped half an octave, his tone hushed as his eyes searched Taehyung’s face. “I don’t want anything from you that costs money.”

            Taehyung’s eyes were half lidded now as he leaned in a bit closer, watching the way Jimin’s body seemed to sway on instinct into Taehyung’s space. “What do you want then?”

            “You.” Jimin’s smile was quick and fleeting. “But I’d settle for a birthday kiss.”

            Taehyung hummed softly. “Skinship is a platonic thing. And we are friends.” The argument was paper thin, but neither of them commented on it.

            “That’s true.” Jimin agreed, a laugh curling his lips up at the corners, his eyes sparkling as Taehyung shifted closer.

            “It makes perfect sense.” Taehyung said distractedly as he reached out to cup Jimin’s face carefully in his big hands, licking his lips just as his eyes moved from Jimin’s to his lips. They looked so plush and pink, and there was a hunger boiling in the pit of his stomach that had him finally leaning in to brush their lips together gently. The contact sent sparks running along his spine and his breath caught as he pressed their mouths together more firmly, tilting his head to adjust the angle. Jimin made a soft sound and his hands came up to tangle in the front of Taehyung’s shirt, pulling him closer as he kissed the lavender haired boy back. Taehyung’s mind was spinning at the feel of Jimin’s lips against his, the soft give of their fullness had his tongue swiping out along that bottom lip on instinct, eliciting another soft, sigh-like sound from the blonde.

            Taehyung broke the kiss then, chest rising and falling rapidly as Jimin’s eyes slid open slowly, his expression dazed and wanting as Taehyung bit his lip. “Taehyungie.” The blonde breathed out in that sweet honied voice, his tone desperate, and the younger boy couldn’t help but dive back in. They were kissing again, Jimin’s tongue licking into his mouth as Taehyung’s hands tangled in the older boy’s hair, pulling him closer as they kissed roughly. Jimin’s hands were locked on his biceps as if to keep him from running away but running was the furthest thing from Taehyung’s mind as their lips caught again and again, his body hot and his mind foggy. He wasn’t sure when it happened, but his back was against the soft mattress, Jimin hovering over him, his arms bracketed on either side of Taehyung’s head as he kissed him deeply, Taehyung’s legs spread to allow the blonde between them.

            Jimin was holding his body carefully over Taehyung’s, nothing but their lips touching, and Taehyung nearly groaned in frustration. His hands came up to skim along Jimin’s sides, sinking under his t-shirt to brush across warm skin, making their way to his strong back and pulling him down. The motion startled Jimin, but he went willingly, pressing his body down against Taehyung’s and the younger boy did groan before yanking Jimin into another hard kiss. Jimin’s tongue was working magic in his mouth, his teeth nipping deliciously at Taehyung’s lips, and the lavender haired boy was drunk on the feeling. Jimin’s body was hard and strong, all muscle, and it felt so good pressed up against Taehyung, he couldn’t resist bringing a leg up and over Jimin’s hip. The older boy immediately grabbed onto his thigh with a strong hand, making a soft sound in the back of his throat as he rolled his hips down, Taehyung’s moan breaking the kiss as his head craned back at the sudden pleasure. Jimin’s lips immediately moved to his jaw, kissing and sucking down to his neck where the blonde bit him in the way he seemed to remember Taehyung liking, the lavender haired boy gasping out as his hands flew up to latch onto Jimin’s hair and tug, the blonde’s lips leaving his skin on a startled breathy moan. “Fuck, Jimin-ah, I—”

            “You better be clothed because we’re coming in!” Jungkook was hollering through the door suddenly, and Taehyung barely had time to blink before the door was flung open. Yoongi and Jungkook stood in the doorway, looking unamused and judgmental as Jimin froze above him, eyes wide; Taehyung tilted his head farther back so he could look at the other two boys upside down. “You call this getting dressed? What the hell guys!”

            “There’s a perfectly good explanation, actually.” Taehyung immediately defended with a pout, Jimin still frozen over him. Taehyung had the presence of mind to let Jimin’s hair go, his hand coming to rest on the blonde’s shoulder.

            Yoongi raised an eyebrow and leaned against the doorframe with crossed arms. “And that is. . .?” Taehyung pretended to be deaf for a moment before glancing up at the red and silent boy above him.

            “So much for ‘just friends’, I knew that would never last.” Jungkook snickered, gesturing to them.

            “Hey! We are just friends!” Taehyung retorted, sticking his tongue out at Jungkook.

            “Oh yeah? Then what’s this?”

            “A. . . birthday kiss?” Taehyung wilted under their unamused gazes.

            “A birthday kiss, huh?” Yoongi looked as if he couldn’t decide between fleeing the room and teasing them mercilessly. So, he defaulted. “Looks more like birthday sex to me. You look two seconds away from mounting him.”

            “Oh my god, leave me alone! Let me live my life!” Taehyung cried out, snagging a pillow and throwing it at Yoongi, missing him by a foot. Jimin seemed to come back to life then, scrambling off Taehyung and fleeing to the bathroom, the door shutting behind him. “Aw, see what you did? Now you scared him off.” Taehyung rolled off the bed, nearly stumbling in his haste to knock on the bathroom door (he did his best to both hide and ignore the existence of his half hard cock). “Jimin-ah, don’t be embarrassed! Come out!”

            “I’m taking a quick shower and getting dressed, I’ll be out in a few minutes.” Jimin replied, his voice hushed and mortified as the sound of the shower turning on drowned any other noises out. Taehyung pouted at the closed door before turning and shuffling after his friends, throwing himself dejectedly out on the couch. Jungkook sat beside him, a grin on his face as he went to speak; Taehyung immediately lifted a finger and glared at him.

            “Not a damn word.”

            When Jimin came out, freshly showered and dressed, his hair perfect and face made up, he was only slightly pink still. Jungkook ribbed him good naturedly as they towed him out of the apartment, Taehyung whining as they piled in Yoongi’s car and set off.

            The rest of the day was a blast, and Taehyung’s heart beat faster every time he locked gazes with the blonde. Jimin seemed overjoyed at the attention, constantly laughing and covering his face as he was given hugs and presents, face burning every time they sung a ridiculous off key version of the birthday song in public. Laser tag was fun, Jimin was surprisingly good at it and ended up creaming them all with the most angelic smile that fooled none of them after the first five minutes (though Jungkook’s face had been priceless when he realized he’d been outplayed. It took a lot of convincing on Taehyung’s part to get him to let it go). The rest of Jimin’s birthday was interspersed with shopping, a fancy lunch, and the day ended with dinner and the cake at Seokjin and Namjoon’s. By the end of the night as they sat around watching one of his favorite movies, Jimin looked almost overwhelmed, his face constantly fluctuating between a bright smile and watery disbelief as he gazed around at them. Taehyung’s heart lurched in his chest and he felt a rush of fondness so strong he wanted to cry, and he nudged the blonde, offering him his hand.

            Jimin took it without a second thought, his smile turning shy as Taehyung interlaced their fingers and whispered, “Happy birthday Chim.”

            As far as Jimin’s birthdays went, second time was the charm.

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

            It was two weeks later that Taehyung overheard Jimin being asked out.

            He was sitting on the floor outside the dance studio door, a book in hand as he waited for Jimin’s class to end so they could go get dinner at the new burger joint that had opened recently. He’d been humming along to the song in his earbuds under his breath when people started filing out (they were all so used to his loitering by now that they didn’t spare him a glance, stepping easily over his sprawled legs). He’d just paused his music, not having taken the headphones out when he heard it.

            “Great class today Jimin-ssi, you pick up things so quick! Hoseok-hyung was right about you, we’re lucky to have you.” The voice was unfamiliar but pleasant, if a little nervous sounding. Taehyung felt pride at the compliments Jimin was receiving, a smile on his face.

            “Thanks, I appreciate it. You did well, too.” Jimin sounded pleased and surprised, and Taehyung was happy he was getting along with his classmates. It meant the world to him that Jimin was making bounds socially, even if the progress had been slow; Jimin deserved the world, and Taehyung wanted to make sure it was available to him.

            “Thank you.” The boy paused for a moment before continuing in a rush. “Look, I was wondering if you wanted to go out sometime. Nothing fancy, just a dinner or a movie.” Taehyung’s face was stunned and he held his breath, hands tightening around his book as he waited for Jimin’s response.

            “Oh.” Jimin sounded shocked and Taehyung could hear him shifting restlessly. “Like, as friends or. . .?”

            “No, like on a date. With me.” The boy sounded shy and a tad bit embarrassed, and Taehyung could feel his heart racing. “I really like you Jimin-ssi. You’re so talented and kind, I want to spend time with you, get to know you outside the studio.”

            “That’s. . . really nice of you, Jaebum-ssi.” Jimin finally responded and Taehyung’s eyes closed, his stomach churning as his heart ached. He felt cold, a dull panging in his chest, the tightness in his lungs making it hard to breathe. He almost stood up and walked away, but Jimin’s next words pinned him in place. “But I’m sorry, I can’t.”

            “Can I ask why?” Jaebum sounded crestfallen and sad, but Taehyung was too busy waiting for Jimin’s explanation to care about the boy’s emotional state.

            “I. . . have a boyfriend. I really care for him and I don’t see that changing any time soon, if ever.” Jimin laughed softly to himself before continuing kindly. “I really appreciate the offer, you seem sweet. But I’m sorry, my heart is no longer mine to give.” Taehyung’s heart lurched and nearly stopped at the confession, eyes wide as he stared at the wall across from him, his book forgotten in his lap. He was trembling, he realized distantly.

            “I understand.” Jaebum was silent for a minute before he asked, “It’s him isn’t it? The tall guy with the bright hair who always walks you out? He’s your guy?”

            “Yeah, he’s my guy.” Jimin’s voice was warm and fond, his light giggle coupled with his statement making Taehyung nearly swoon. His cheeks were pink and there was a slippery feeling in his chest that made him want to melt onto the floor in a puddle, butterflies set free in his stomach. The lightness that seemed to alleviate all tension in his body was rejuvenating, and he could feel the steady warmth pulling at the corners of his lips, tipping them up into a pleased smile.

            “I should have figured, you two light up around each other. I had hoped you were just friends but. . . I guess I was wrong.”

            “There’s nothing ‘just friends’ about Taehyungie and I.” Jimin agreed with a soft laugh before he sobered. “I hope we can still be friends; I would hate for this to make things weird during practice.”

            “Of course. I can handle rejection.” Jaebum laughed and it sounded as if he was lifting a bag and heading towards the door. “I hope he makes you happy Jimin-ssi, I really do.”

            “He makes me the happiest.” Jimin replied calmly as if it was the easiest answer in the world to give, as if the words themselves weighed as light as a feather and didn’t have the power to bring Taehyung to his knees.

            “Good. Have a nice night.”

            “You too, Jaebum-ssi.” Realizing he wasn’t meant to hear that conversation, Taehyung quickly lifted his book and opened it to a random page to pretend to read, bobbing his head in time as if his music was still playing. The boy he assumed to be Jaebum came out of the classroom, looking a little sad but okay; Taehyung had looked up casually when his shadow passed over him, blinking as if surprised. Jaebum noticed him and smiled slightly, waving as he headed out of the studio doors, Taehyung barely managing to wave back before Jimin was appearing in the doorway.

            His skin was flushed pink from the exertion of his class, his skin lit up as if he had an inner glow, his white tank top soaked through with perspiration, and his sweatpants the rattiest pair he owned. His hair was damp against his forehead, his roots were starting to show badly, the darkness creeping in almost an inch thick now with no signs of stopping. He seemed exhausted, his face worn, and his shoulders were drooping despite his satisfied smile, the classes of the day clearly having taken all their toll. Too many late nights with not enough sleep had painted dark circles under his eyes and the skin of his left cheek was breaking out, his lips chapped from dehydration. Despite all that, Jimin was smiling brightly at him, giddy to see him and it loosened something in his chest he didn’t realize had been locked up tight.

            He looked like hell, but to Taehyung he had never looked more beautiful.

            “Hi Tae, I didn’t know you were here!” Jimin greeted him, and if Taehyung hadn’t heard the earlier conversation, he wouldn’t have detected the nervous tone in the older boy’s voice. Jimin adjusted his bag on his shoulder, running a hand through his sweaty locks and grimacing. “I thought we were meeting up in an hour, I still need to shower.”

            “Oh, we are. I just wanted to see you and I wasn’t doing anything, so I thought I’d see if you wanted a ride? I don’t mind waiting for you to shower, I’ve got a book.” Taehyung lifted the book in his hands as he stood, brushing off his butt. Jimin looked surprised then pleased.

            “Are you sure?”

            “Yeah. I’m cheaper than an Uber.” He winked playfully and Jimin just rolled his eyes, leading the way out of the building with Taehyung trailing after him like a puppy.

            “Tell that to my wallet after all-you-can-eat crab.”

            “Hey, you were warned. I’m basically a garbage disposal disguised as a human being.”

            “These are facts.” Jimin laughed when Taehyung shoved him, dodging his outstretched arms and booking it towards the parking lot; Taehyung gave chase, grinning at the high pitched giggles that floated back to him as they ran towards his truck. Jimin reached it first, grabbing onto the handle of the passenger door and tugging, dismayed to find it locked still. He whipped around right as Taehyung was reaching him, his breathless giggles coming out harder as he held up his hands to ward the lavender haired boy off. “Base, base! This is base, I already beat you!” When Taehyung stalked towards him threateningly, a twinkle in his eyes, Jimin changed tactics. “I’m sweaty and gross, you don’t wanna touch me! Taehyung!” He squealed out the name as the younger boy reached him and scooped him up, tickling his sides relentless until Jimin was gasping for air, his face bright red, and Taehyung had to support all his weight to keep him upright.

            “What did you learn?” Taehyung asked sweetly, chuckling under his breath when Jimin tried to glare up at him despite his laughter, slightly distracted by the proximity of their faces.

            “That you’re an asshole.” Jimin replied petulantly, pouting and sticking his tongue out, wiggling out of Taehyung’s arms with a huff. Taehyung gave him a thumbs up with a grin.

            “Now you’re getting it!” Taehyung chuckled and unlocked the trucks doors, climbing into the driver’s seat and waiting for Jimin to settle in and buckle up before heading to his apartment. They bickered playfully back and forth the entire ride, alternating between ribbing each other and singing along to the radio, Jimin laughing until tears were streaming down his face as the younger boy pretended to be an opera singer. Taehyung’s face hurt from smiling so hard, and he was sure Jimin felt the same.

            Reaching the apartment, Taehyung headed towards the fridge, helping himself to a coke as Jimin disappeared into the bathroom connected to his room, Taehyung flopping out on the couch just as the shower started up. He sighed softly and stretched out against the soft pillows, book in hand as the sound of Jimin’s silky sweet singing drifted from behind the closed door. After a while his eyes fell closed at the soft sound, head falling back against the cushions and book forgotten in his lap as he felt truly content for the first time in forever. He had the best friends a guy could ask for, an awesome family that loved him, and the most special boy who already thought of them as a couple, who was simply waiting for Taehyung to make the first move. It had been a very long time since he was this happy, this in love with life itself. Taehyung wanted for nothing.

            Or did he?

            The soft strains of ‘Winter Bear’ echoed through the room as Jimin sang the song from so long ago, eons ago when they were both younger and more naïve, when they didn’t know that to fall together, they had to fall apart first. So much had happened and so much had changed; Taehyung was different now then he had been when they met, but Jimin was too. Different didn’t have to mean bad. Taehyung sat up as he listened to Jimin sing, thoughts swirling rapidly through his mind. He had been hurt, that much was true. He’d felt anger and sadness, disappointment and despair. He’d shut down and blown up, he’d screamed and cried. His heart, and his trust, had been broken. But at what point was he simply being a hypocrite? When he was doing the same thing he’d accused Jimin of doing: letting the pains of his past stop him from embracing his future?

            Why was he stopping himself from embracing Jimin?

            Taehyung knew it then.

            He was the one in the way of his own happiness this time.

            Taehyung stood quickly, just as the shower turned off, heart racing as he stared at the closed door. He could hear Jimin moving around his room, could hear the humming emanating from inside and he had two options. He could stay where he was and wait for Jimin to come out, they would go to dinner and hang out while he ignored the revelation in favor of playing it safe. Or, he could embrace himself, embrace Jimin, and take a risk. He wasn’t even aware he was moving until he reached the door, stopping for only a second with his hand on the doorknob, taking a deep breath before raising his head and doing what he did best.

            Winging it.

            Taehyung opened the door, letting it slam against the wall as he stalked towards the shocked blonde; Jimin was standing wrapped in a low hanging towel, his damp chest glistening in the overhead light as he rested a hand over his heart in surprise, his breath coming out in a sharp gasp. Taehyung stopped three feet away from him, eyeing the blonde with serious eyes as the blonde chuckled nervously, glancing around him as if the room held the answers he was looking for. His hand came up to card through wet hair and Taehyung followed the movement, gaze predatory.

            “Holy shit Taehyung, you scared me! Jesus, are you okay? Is something wrong?” Jimin finally spoke, eyes blown wide. Taehyung just shook his head and stepped closer, Jimin taking a half step back on instinct. “Tae?” Taehyung just huffed out an exasperated sigh, saying the thing he never thought he’d say to Jimin.

            “Shut up, Jiminie.”

            With that, Taehyung took the final steps into the blonde’s space and grasped him by his cheeks, yanking him in and placing a hard, passionate kiss on his lips. Jimin stumbled forward with a gasp of shock, hands landing on Taehyung’s hips as the lavender locked boy took his gasp as an invitation, licking into his mouth and tangling their tongues together. Jimin’s groan was soft and high as he got with the program quickly, his arms wrapping around Taehyung and yanking him in closer until their chests were pressed together, his hands running up Taehyung’s broad back making the younger boy sigh. Jimin’s lips felt like soft pillows against his and Taehyung couldn’t resist biting the bottom one and tugging on it, sucking lightly on it before releasing it with a wet pop; Jimin made a soft sound before Taehyung kissed him again, their tongues hot and slick against each other before the taller boy got impatient, breaking the kiss to run his lips along Jimin’s jaw, his hands finding purchase in Jimin’s wet hair.

            He tightened his hold on the hair and craned Jimin’s head back, licking a stripe through the beads of water dampening the column of his throat and gently blowing on it before sucking a purple mark under his Adam’s apple. Jimin’s gasp was punctuated by his hands pressing harder against Taehyung’s back before they were moving, sliding under his shirt to touch naked skin, rucking the material up around Taehyung’s ribs as small hands reached his nipples. He gasped at the contact before nipping Jimin’s ear lobe, sucking it into his mouth before whispering, “I want you.”

            Jimin bit his lip, his cheeks flushed as his eyes fluttered open to gaze half lidded into Taehyung’s smoldering eyes. There was a smile dancing on those plush lips, one corner hiking up wryly as he responded softly, “Then take me.”

            Taehyung made a soft sound, releasing the blonde only for a second to tear his own shirt off before Jimin was on him, attaching his mouth to Taehyung’s neck, his lips leaving a trail of wet bruises before he was kissing Taehyung again, hands fumbling clumsily on the button of his jeans. Taehyung’s thumbs were sliding along the ridiculous v-line Jimin had, fingers teasingly running through the blonde’s happy trail as their lips caught together in a delicious slide. Jimin only struggled for a moment before he succeeded, the button popping out and he made quick work of the zipper, shoving Taehyung’s jeans down. The younger boy quickly helped him, stumbling into Jimin as he stepped hurriedly out of them and kicked them off, his hands returning to Jimin’s hair as Jimin’s mouth slide down to suck on a nipple and his hand cupped Taehyung through his boxers.

            Jimin’s hand rubbed teasingly along the length of Taehyung’s cock as he tongued at the nipple in his mouth until it pebbled, his mouth moving to lave attention to the other nipple, biting down on the sensitive bud; Taehyung gasped softly, yanking on Jimin’s hair in a way that had the blonde moaning, his eyelashes fluttering. “Fuck, Jimin-ah.” Taehyung breathed. “Fuck!” They were kissing then, hot and desperate as Taehyung fumbled with the knot in Jimin’s towel, ridding him of the material and tossing it to the side unceremoniously, Jimin pressing up against him, naked and exposed. His body was immaculate, all faded tan and slender lines, body corded with muscle and skin flawless. The younger boy nearly salivated at all the available skin, his hands running down Jimin’s chest as he kissed and sucked along Jimin’s collarbone. The blonde held to him tight, his chest heaving as Taehyung ran his fingers lightly over his cock, Jimin’s hips stuttering in surprise at the contact, moaning lightly as Taehyung took him firmly in hand. He pumped him slowly, savoring the soft sounds Jimin made as his forehead came to rest against Taehyung’s shoulder, precum beading at the head and he ran his fingers through it, spreading it along the length to help ease the strokes. Jimin’s knees buckled as he trembled and Taehyung couldn’t help but lick his lips in anticipation, the beautiful blonde already rosy and debauched.

            Heat pooled in Taehyung’s stomach as he dropped to his knees, gripping the backs of Jimin’s thighs in strong hands as he ran his nose tip teasingly along the blonde’s hip, mouthing at his happy trail as his tongue traced a line straight down. Jimin’s breath hitched, his hand burying in lavender locks as Taehyung licked tentatively at the head, tonguing at the slit before engulfing the head in wet heat. Jimin’s cock was hot and heavy on his tongue and he relished the slide as he bobbed his head slowly, his precum salty on Taehyung’s tongue. He was out of practice but his enthusiasm made up for it, closing his eyes as he sucked, tongue wrapping around Jimin’s cock like it was a lollipop. The blonde was moaning in earnest, his knees shaking as Taehyung pulled back, stroking him firmly as his lips traveled to leave dark marks along his hips and thighs, his free hand moving to his own crotch, palming his hard on to relieve some tension. Jimin was panting and gasping as Taehyung returned to his reddened erection and swallowed around him again, pressing the flat of his tongue to the sensitive vein underneath and sliding down as far as he could go, ignoring his gag reflex as Jimin thrust lightly into his throat. It was only moments later that Jimin was yanking on his hair and pulling him off with a long moan.

            “Stop, stop, I’m gonna cum.” He breathed as Taehyung rose to his feet again, the smirk on his face disappearing as Jimin threw himself at him. The lavender haired boy stumbled backwards, toppling onto the bed with Jimin on top of him, their lips locked in a searing kiss as Jimin straddled him, grinding against Taehyung’s clothed erection. Taehyung’s head hit the mattress as he moaned softly, Jimin’s lips brushing against his cheekbone before running down his jawline, teeth nipping and lips damp against Taehyung’s skin. His back bowed when Jimin’s small hand wrapped around his cock beneath his boxers and stroked firmly, the cool metal of his rings a startling contrast to his shower warmed fingers, liquid heat moving through his body as Jimin ground down on his thigh.

            “Jimin-ah, please!” Taehyung gasped as Jimin bit down on his neck teasingly, his fingers moving featherlight over his cock. It wasn’t enough, none of this was enough, and Taehyung was so hard it was unbearable. He brought his leg up and hooked it around Jimin’s waist, pulling the other boy close enough that he could grind their erections together, his breath coming out in shaky pants. “Please!” Jimin’s lips felt so good against his skin as his hands ran up his chest before moving to hook into Taehyung’s boxers as if to pull them down.

            “What do you want babe?” Jimin’s normally high voice was pitched lower, sultry, and it made goosebumps break out across Taehyung’s skin. He squirmed, attempting to lift his hips so Jimin would remove his boxers, but the blonde held his hips to the bed, his mouth still against his neck. “Tell me what you want, Taehyung-ah.”

            His face was crimson as he replied, pulling Jimin’s lips up to his so they brushed lightly as he spoke. “I want you to fuck me, Jiminie. I want you deep inside me, making me forget my own name as you make me cry with how good it feels.” Jimin just groaned in response and pressed a hot kiss to Taehyung’s lips before moving off him to remove the last garment between them. Taehyung whined at the loss of contact despite the necessity, pulling himself into the middle of the bed as Jimin fumbled around in his nightstand drawer, pulling out a condom and a small bottle of lube before tossing them on the bed and scrambling towards Taehyung. He was over him in an instant, their lips locked together as he settled between Taehyung’s thighs and ground down on him, both of them hissing at the heated contact, Taehyung’s hands burying in Jimin’s hair again. “Please Jimin-ah.” He whined softly against his mouth, Jimin’s tongue licking into his mouth before kissing him deeply. His body was hot and trembling, his core feeling like molten lava and if Jimin didn’t do something now he swore he’d burn to ash right then and there.

            “Patience Taetae, good things come to those who wait.” Jimin replied, his tone amused as he sat back a bit to reach the lube, popping the cap open. A sweet scent filled the air between them, and Taehyung grinned at the semi-embarrassed look on the blonde’s face.

            “Strawberries?”

            “Shut up.” Jimin flushed pink as he kissed him roughly, lightly smacking Taehyung’s hip as he pulled back, his pupils dilated as he gazed down at the younger boy. “Get on your hands and knees for me.” Taehyung whimpered softly at the order, a thrill running down his spine as he quickly complied, his cheek hitting the pillow as he slumped down with his ass in the air, shivering lightly at the exposure. Jimin was behind him then, his hands gliding along Taehyung’s back and hips, sliding along his thighs to widen his stance then to wrap a hand around his cock and give it a firm pump, once, twice, before disappearing even as the lavender haired boy whined in protest.

            It wasn’t much longer before Jimin’s thumb was lightly pressing on his entrance, his fingers coated in warm lube and Taehyung bit his lip on a whimper, thankful for Jimin’s consideration. The light drag sent sparks along his spine, his cock throbbing as he shivered; Jimin teased him, circling his hole and gently rubbing it without breaching it, Taehyung moaning involuntarily at the feeling. “Shit, you’re sensitive here?” Jimin’s voice was breathless and unbelievably turned on, his lips pressing kisses along Taehyung’s spine as he teased him. “You like that Taetae? Hmm?

            “Yes!” Taehyung gasped as Jimin added more pressure, pushing his hips back in search of more. “God, yes, please Jiminie, don’t tease!” Jimin’s laugh was low and seductive and Taehyung’s eyes squeezed closed on a moan as Jimin finally pushed past his entrance, twisting his thumb and making him see stars.

            “Mmm, because you asked so nicely.” Jimin teased, removing his thumb and pushing in a longer digit. Taehyung bit his lip at the slight burn, relishing the feeling as Jimin pumped his finger in and out slowly. It wasn’t long before Taehyung was pushing back against the digit, begging for another shamelessly and Jimin gave him what he asked for, his two fingers scissoring deep inside Taehyung. The lavender haired boy groaned at the feeling, gasping as Jimin stroked along his prostate and made his hips stutter in response. It was then that he seemed to almost leave his body for a while, pleasure coursing rapidly through him and fogging his mind, the sensations both overwhelming and not enough. Jimin sucked marks along his skin and pumping his fingers in and out rapidly, adding a third when he felt Taehyung could take it. His thighs trembled and he could barely hold himself up, breathing shallowly at the feel of Jimin fucking him with his fingers, the air ringing with his moans and Jimin’s soft encouragements.

           “Jimin-ah. . .” The name was a long drawn out moan as Taehyung pushed back against his fingers, his breath catching in his throat. “Please, please, please, I need more.” His words were slurred, nearly a sob as the older boy removed his fingers in response. Taehyung went to roll onto his back but Jimin’s firm grip on his hips stopped him. “Jiminie, I need—” The words were cut off by a choked moan as a hot tongue lapped at his hole, sinking teasingly inside his entrance before the tip circled the rim. Jimin’s breath was hot against his sensitive skin as he ran the flat of his tongue across it before fucking into him, the slide wet and hot. Taehyung practically keened in response, his fingers scrabbling in the sheets to grip onto something, his hips rolling back against Jimin’s mouth, the blonde sucking lewdly and sending white hot pleasure straight to his cock, Taehyung was almost sobbing, the feelings too intense as Jimin’s hands wrapped around him and stroked him, torn between bucking into the warm hand or pushing back against the questing tongue. Jimin kept him there, reducing him to a puddle for several long minutes, alternating between sucking on his rim and thrusting his tongue deep inside, lapping teasingly at his entrance. Taehyung was close, he could feel the telltale tingles in his stomach and the way his cock throbbed in Jimin’s hand, and he gasped as he tried to warn the blonde. “Jimin, Chim, stop! Stop, m’gonna cum, please!”

            Jimin’s mouth withdrew with a wet pop, his hand leaving Taehyung’s cock in favor of snagging a condom. Taehyung crumpled onto his side, gasping for air as he watched Jimin tear the condom open with his teeth and roll it on. Jimin’s smile was bright as he pushed Taehyung’s onto his back and moved between his thighs, leaning in to kiss him long and languidly. Taehyung’s eyes slid closed as he kissed back, tasting strawberries as their tongues met in Jimin’s mouth. Taehyung lifted his legs as Jimin lubed himself up, wrapping them around Jimin’s waist and shivering at the cool press of a head at his entrance. Jimin paused then, eyes heavy lidded and cheeks flushed as he met Taehyung’s gaze. “Okay?”

            Taehyung nodded fervently. “Okay.” Jimin flashed him a smile before he slowly entered him. Taehyung’s eyes slammed shut as his mouth dropped open at the stretch, the slight burn back but delicious and he couldn’t help the guttural moan that came from deep within him. Jimin was biting his lip as he moved slowly, though Taehyung could see the strain of holding back in the way his biceps trembled and his hands shook as he took Taehyung’s face in hand and pulled him into a hard kiss as he bottomed out. His face was blissed out, his halfway dry hair all over the place as Taehyung gripped it again, panting into Jimin’s mouth as he adjusted to the blonde’s girth; the blonde murmured praises, pressing gentle kisses all over Taehyung’s face as he waited patiently.

            When Taehyung nodded and rolled his hips, Jimin moaned softly, shifting his hips in shallow, gentle thrusts to give Taehyung time to adjust to the stretch. The lavender haired boy gasped at the feeling and met his thrusts with rolls of his hips, but he could only handle that for a few moments before he was biting along Jimin’s neck warningly, lapping at the marks as he tugged blonde hair. “Jiminie, ah, fuck me like you mean it!” He growled into his ear, voice breathless and pleading; Jimin huffed in response but gave him when he wanted anyway, pulling out to the tip before snapping his hips back in hard, Taehyung’s moan startled at the onslaught of pleasure. He picked up the pace and soon he was pounding into Taehyung, his hands so tight on his hips that Taehyung was sure there would be bruises and he relished the fact.

            Taehyung’s eyes were shut and the room was a symphony of their moans, the sound like the most beautiful music to Taehyung’s ears. He felt so full, Jimin’s cock hard and hot inside him and the slide incredible; his body was wracked with pleasure and trembling as his reddened cock wept against his stomach, smearing precum against his skin. His hands dragged along Jimin’s back, nails digging into soft skin but the blonde didn’t seem to care, snapping his hips harder into Taehyung as he leant down for a sloppy kiss. Taehyung kissed back as best he could, his hand finding his cock and stroking twice before Jimin was smacking it away in favor of wrapping his own fingers around the younger boy. The combined pleasure of Jimin inside of him and the thumb rubbing along the head of his erection had him nearly in tears, clinging to the older boy as he moaned so loud, he knew he’d be hoarse later. The sounds seemed to spur Jimin on, and he pulled back enough to lift Taehyung’s legs up and over his shoulders despite the lack of movement making Taehyung whine, slender ankles behind his head as he picked up the pace again. The new position had Taehyung wailing as the angle made Jimin hit his prostate at every stroke, nearly bent in half as Jimin pounded into him, sweat from exertion dampening their hair and skin.

            Taehyung felt it then, the sudden rush and he opened his mouth, tears running down his face as he moaned. “I’m gonna—M’close, Jimin-ah—”

            Jimin pressed a hot kiss to the inside of Taehyung’s thigh, his hand finding Taehyung’s cock and tugging on it again, thumbing the slit as he groaned lowly. “Me too, Taetae, ah, me too.” Taehyung gripped the sheets with one hand, his other tangling with Jimin’s free hand as Jimin pushed their clasped hands to the pillow above Taehyung’s head and leaned in for a sloppy kiss, more tongue and teeth but perfect, and something in Taehyung’s gut snapped free and he was coming, a loud and drawn out version of Jimin’s name leaving his lips as his back bowed off the bed, thick white spurts of cum coating his belly and Jimin’s abs. Jimin thrust into him harder, frantically chasing his release as Taehyung came down from his high, whimpering at the overstimulation but loving every minute of it. When he reached the edge and flung himself over, Taehyung’s hands cupped his face and he gazed at him in adoration, Jimin’s face lighting up and his jaw dropping at the force of his orgasm. The sounds he made were high and beautiful and Taehyung’s throat felt tight with emotion.

            Their breathing was loud in the quiet room as Jimin carefully pulled out, letting Taehyung’s sore legs drop to the bed on either side of him as he removed the condom and tied it off, tossing it towards the small trashcan. Taehyung threw an arm across his eyes as he tried to steady his breathing, feeling the bed depress as Jimin left it, his footsteps heading towards the bathroom. He didn’t move as he heard water run for a moment before Jimin was entering the room again. The warm, wet feel of a wash cloth wiping along his chest and stomach made him sigh softly, melting into the sheets as Jimin took care of him, cleaning him up with a gentle hand. His heart felt too full, overflowing with emotions, and he was glad for the moment of silence to calm himself down, his erratic pulse singing in the quiet.

            “Tae?” Jimin’s voice was soft and Taehyung slowly moved his arm, gazing up at the blonde sliding into the bed beside him. His face was flushed and his hair was all over the place, his skin peppered with red and purples marks littered all over his body; he looked thoroughly fucked out and Taehyung knew he was no better. He made a soft noise in response to his name, opening his arms and beckoning the blonde in. Jimin didn’t hesitate, his smile sleepy but sated as he curled up against Taehyung, giggling as the lavender haired boy wrapped his arms around him tight and threw a leg over Jimin’s thighs, snuggling close and enjoying the feel of their naked, overheated skin pressed intimately together. The room was warm and almost stuffy, filled with the smell of sex and strawberries.

            Jimin shuffled so he could remove an arm from Taehyung’s octopus limbs, bringing his hand up to cup his jaw, his thumb running tenderly across Taehyung’s cheekbone. The younger boy tilted his head down with a smile, arching his neck and Jimin grinned, leaning in to give him the kiss he was asking for. They kissed for a long time, the soft catch of lips the only sound in the room; Taehyung eventually rolled Jimin onto his back, hovering over him with a leg between his thighs to deepen the kisses, Jimin’s arms languidly thrown around his neck and holding him close, fingers running through his hair lightly. It was bliss and Taehyung’s heart felt so, so full.

            “You’re so beautiful Jiminie.” He whispered softly against the blonde’s plush, pink lips. He felt his smile before he saw it, Jimin’s soft giggle filling the space between them before he kissed him again, their tongues tangling lazily. Jimin drew back, turning his head so Taehyung could pepper kisses along his neck.

            “You are too Taehyung-ah, so damn stunning.” Jimin’s breath hitched as Taehyung sucked a mark at the sensitive spot just below his ear, squirming slightly against the taller boy. “I can’t believe that happened.” His laugh was breathless as Taehyung nipped playfully at his earlobe. “You just came in here and threw yourself at me! Like some kind of bad romcom!”

            “Oh shut up, you loved it.” Taehyung kissed him again, sucking on his lower lip before pulling back with a bright, boxy grin. “Don’t even try to deny it.”

            Jimin looked dazed and pink as he gazed up at Taehyung. “I wouldn’t dream of it.” Taehyung laughed softly and rolled onto his back, pulling Jimin with him and on top of him. He put a hand behind his head as his other hand stroked a gentle line up and down Jimin’s spine, feeling the smaller boy melt against him with a happy sigh. Jimin folded his arms under his head, resting his chin on them so he could keep Taehyung’s gaze. For the first time since Taehyung entered the room, he looked a little nervous, a bit withdrawn and Taehyung frowned.

            “What’s wrong Chim?”

            Jimin bit his lip and glanced away. “What. . . what was this? A one time thing? Stress relief? A. . . booty call?” His voice was small and insecure, and Taehyung’s heart lurched. His hand stilled on Jimin’s spine, pressing down on his lower back comfortingly.

            “What? No! No, of course not, Jimin-ah.” He quickly denied, shaking his head lightly, waiting for Jimin to meet his gaze before continuing. “This was me deciding to stop being stupid.” Jimin’s lips quirked up and Taehyung stuck his tongue out at him. “Well, as much as possible for me. Anyways, I’m tired of standing in the way of my own happiness. How can I be upset with you for doing in the past what I’m doing now?” He shrugged lightly. “I’m being a hypocrite.”

            Jimin looked confused, his brow furrowed, and Taehyung had the urge to kiss the frown away; so that’s what he did, leaning up and kissing him softly for a few moments before falling back against the pillows and letting his hand resume it’s stroking along Jimin’s spine. “What do you mean?” The blonde asked softly, resting his chin on his arms again. Taehyung hummed softly.

            “I want nothing more than to call you mine, for us to be together, but I wasn’t letting myself have that happiness because of our past. It’s stupid.” Jimin’s gasp was soft but Taehyung pressed on. “I’d forgiven you weeks ago, and while trust doesn’t happen overnight, it’s been slowly building. Why can’t we be together as we learn to trust each other? Isn’t that what a relationship is?” He asked rhetorically, smiling at the shocked blonde. “I want you. All of you; mind, body, soul, heart. I want you Park Jimin. Do you still want me?”

            “I never stopped.” Jimin’s reply was soft and wavering, his eyes suspiciously damp as Taehyung grinned at him.

            “Be my boyfriend then, exclusively mine. I don’t want to spend another day without you.”

            “Yes. Yes Tae, I want that too.” Jimin was nodding, moving up so his arms fell on either side of Taehyung’s head as he leaned in and kissed him, slow and soft, full of meaning and heart. Taehyung’s eyes slid close as his arms moved to wrap around Jimin’s waist and hold him close. His soul felt light and butterflies fluttered in his stomach, his heart racing with exhilaration and adoration as Jimin’s lips moved against his in a sensual dance. The kiss wasn’t a long one, both of them smiling too brightly to keep it up but Taehyung wasn’t worried about it.

            There was all the time in the world for more kisses.

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

            “Tae, what are you doing? Come back and kiss me!” Jimin’s tone was whiny and petulant as he pouted, his arms up and lips pursed even as Taehyung just laughed and continued to sort through the crap in his closet. Jimin made a soft sound of annoyance at being ignored by his boyfriend before his arms dropped and he flopped back on the bed. Taehyung glanced back at him, grinning at the sight of Jimin pouting and spread out on his bed like a sexy starfish, glaring adorably up at the ceiling. Six months into their relationship and he was still head over heels for that silly boy.

            “Calm down, I’ll be right there.” He promised, tone teasing as he searched the back of his closet. He really ought to clean it out like his Eomma was always nagging him to do, the shelves stacked with all kinds of shit he wasn’t aware he owned, the racks filled to bursting with his wardrobe. He shoved his shoes to the side, ignoring the way they piled up on each other and ran a hand through his naturally dark hair.

            “What are you even looking for?”

            “It’s a secret.” He could practically feel Jimin’s frown trained on his back as he sat up and Taehyung had to swallow a laugh.

            “Mean.”

            “I know.” There was a flash of white behind his ties and headbands and Taehyung let out a soft cry of victory. “Ah ha! There it is! Jimin-ah, close your eyes.”        

            “Why?” Jimin’s voice was suspicious and Taehyung snickered.

            “Just do it.”

            “I feel like this is the moment where you try to kill me and hide the body.” Jimin muttered, but a quick glance told Taehyung he’d obeyed anyways. He carefully lifted the object and carried it out of the closet, stopping in front of the bed with it in hand.

            He was nervous suddenly, though his gut was telling him this was right. His hands trembled lightly around the gift and his palms felt sweaty. He bit his lip as he gazed at his boyfriend’s face unviewed, eyes tracing the small nose and sharp cheekbones, the plush lips and perfect eyebrows, his freshly dyed pink hair sweeping along his forehead. He was beautiful, ethereal even, and for a moment Taehyung was choked up, so thankful to call this wonderful boy his. Jimin shifted then, eyelashes fluttering like he wanted to open his eyes but kept them closed anyways, clearly impatient and Taehyung bit back a soft laugh (or tears, he wasn’t sure at this point).

            “Taetae, you okay?” Jimin’s voice was still just as sweet, Taehyung’s favorite sound in the entire world. “Can I open my eyes yet?”

            “No, keep them closed. Please.” Taehyung took a deep, shaky breath before speaking again. “Jimin, do you remember that art class I had in high school? The only class we didn’t have together?”

            “Of course. It wasn’t that long ago, Taehyung-ah.” Jimin teased, though he seemed concerned, his brow furrowing. “Why?”

            “Do you remember that stupid project I was always complaining about? The teacher wanted us to pick an emotion and paint it, but it had to be abstract. The point was to hide it and let the viewer try and pick it out. I hated that project, we had weeks to work on it but I didn’t start until after you started school. I was lost for a long time; I was certain I would end up turning in a blank canvas because I had no idea what emotion I wanted to portray. But after meeting you. . . it became clear.”

            Taehyung took a deep breath and carefully walked to the end of his bed, setting the covered canvas on the waiting easel, removing the drop cloth and letting it fall to the floor; he took a moment to study the painting and a rush of calm swept over him, a smile tilting his lips. He would forever be grateful to Kibum for digging it out of the trash and keeping it safe for him. Shaking himself, he returned to Jimin’s side, gently taking his hands and tugging him off the bed, leading him to the easel. Jimin kept his eyes shut, squeezing Taehyung’s hands before the dark haired boy released him, moving behind him to place his hands on his shoulders. “Open your eyes Jiminie, tell me what you see.”

            Jimin’s eyes opened and Taehyung heard his breath catch in his throat. His hands came up to cover his mouth as his gaze examined the painting. The colors, though faded slightly with time, were still bright, a swirl of blue, red and purple interspersed with white. Jimin took a step closer, one of his hands coming out to trace the air above the painting, his finger following the line of a small nose down to full lips, passing over cheeks and eyes before falling back to his side. Even he could see himself in the image, the abstractions and colors doing nothing to take away from the face he saw every day in the mirror. Taehyung smiled faintly as Jimin finally tore his glistening eyes from the canvas to gaze up at him, his hand moving to cover Taehyung’s hand on his shoulder. “Tae, this is. . . it’s me.”

            “Yeah, it is.”

            “But you said you had to paint an emotion. . .” His voice trailed off as his eyes widened and he turned his head to look at the canvas again. “Kim Taehyung, are you being serious here?” His voice was thick suddenly and Taehyung couldn’t help but laugh softly, moving closer and winding his arms around Jimin’s waist from behind, his heart beating steady and calm in his chest as he placed a tender kiss against Jimin’s neck.

            “I’ve never been more serious in my life, Chim.”

            “This was so long ago.” Jimin’s voice was a whisper and Taehyung shrugged, resting his chin on the smaller boy’s shoulder.

            “It was, but that doesn’t matter if it’s still true.”

            “Tell me.” Jimin’s voice was insistent suddenly, sniffling as a hand gripped Taehyung’s arms and the other rubbed under his eyes. He turned in Taehyung’s arms, his arms going around Taehyung’s neck. His face was wet with tears and his cheeks were blush pink to match his hair, his full lips quivering as he gazed up at Taehyung, and god help him, Taehyung was so far gone on this boy. “Tell me, Tae.”

            Taehyung’s smile was warm and intimate, the words leaving his mouth like a sigh as he finally set them free from their cage, after all this time. “Park Jimin, I love you. I’m so in love with you. I’ve never stopped and I don’t think I ever will.”

            Jimin’s response was an enthusiastic kiss and tears, his hands sliding into Taehyung’s dark hair as he whispered, “I love you too, Taetae,” against his lips. Taehyung laughed against his mouth before lifting Jimin in his arms and carrying him towards the bed, heart elated as they whispered those words again and again beneath the covers.

            Jimin wasn’t just there to catch Taehyung when he fell, he was right beside him as they jumped together, fingers, and hearts, intertwined.

 

THE END

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

‘Maybe I made a mistake yesterday, but yesterday’s me is still me. I am who I am today, with all my faults. Tomorrow I might be a tiny bit wiser, and that’s me, too. These faults and mistakes are what I am, making up the brightest stars in the constellation of my life. I have come to love myself for who I was, who I am, and who I hope to become.

***

Find your name, find your voice by speaking yourself.’

-Kim Namjoon; UN speech September 2018

Chapter Text

            “Jiminie, are you ready baby?” Taehyung’s deep voice echoed through the apartment, and he could hear footsteps in the vicinity of their closet; the other boy didn’t respond, and Taehyung sighed in exasperation, checking his watch again. “Jimin-ah! We need to go!” There was a thump and a curse, making the younger boy stifle a chuckle. He sat on the couch, slipping his dress shoes on and checking to make sure they shone, before he glanced around the room for his keys.

            Their two bedroom apartment was eclectic and spacious, the walls a warm sunshine yellow and the furniture a mishmash of patterned fabrics and varying woods. It was a little crowded, the large sectional taking up more space in the living room then necessary, but the many nights curled up together on it made it all worth it; bookshelves lined the walls, a large patterned area rug bringing the room together. The many surfaces were littered with a multitude of seemingly random items; framed photos, dance trophies, trinkets they’d gathered over the course of their relationship. Taehyung couldn’t help but smile as his eyes fell on one framed photo in particular, a still of Jimin standing thigh deep in the ocean, his back to the camera with his arms spread, the sky dreary and cloudy. Taehyung could still feel the wind that whipped through photo Jimin’s white shirt, tearing viciously but doing nothing to diminish the smile on his face.

            The photo was from their trip to Busan, the summer after freshmen year of college; it had taken a lot of convincing, but Jimin managed to persuade Taehyung to take him there, and they had stayed in a small motel not far from the beach. Taehyung hadn’t been happy, his mouth twisted into a frown for most of the trip, but Jimin hadn’t stopped smiling. When he’d asked the smaller boy, Jimin had explained to him that it was closure, being able to confidently step foot in the town that had hurt him so badly, the closing of the chapter of that part of his life. Jimin felt as if he had never really left Busan, that there was always something tying him there, but now he felt free. The picture was of their final day in town. Jimin had taken him down to the beach, lamenting the weather for making it impossible to enjoy the ocean, only daring to go thigh high in the water. Taehyung had stayed dry on the sand, watching the love of his life with a smile on his face as he lifted his camera and captured the moment. He could still head Jimin’s laughter on the wind as he’d turned to face Taehyung with a bright smile.

            He was snapped out of his reverie by arms sliding around his waist, pulling him back against a strong chest as a ringed hand dangled his car keys out in front of him teasingly. “Looking for these?” The voice was warm and sweet, an edge of laughter to his words. Taehyung couldn’t help but grin as he reached for them, only to have the other boy pull them back out of reach, making the younger boy pout as he turned in Jimin’s arms to face the smaller boy.

            “Jimin-ah.” He whined the name, letting it out in a drawl that had the older boy grinning brightly, his cheeks pushing his eyes into thin crescents. Taehyung couldn’t help but swoop in and press a tender kiss to each cheek, his heart still racing in his chest after all this time. Dark hair, a natural ebony, was parted off Jimin’s forehead, his face carefully made up to match his charcoal grey suit. The material had a bit of a sparkle to it, his tie thin and black against the white of his dress shirt. Taehyung took a moment to fix his red pocket square before glancing up to meet Jimin’s smile with one of his own. “Gimme my keys, we’re going to be late.”

            “Give me a kiss first and we’ll see.” His tone was teasing and light, already leaning in to meet Taehyung as the boy gave an exasperated sigh before giving in. The kiss started out soft and sweet, Taehyung’s eyes sliding closed as Jimin’s plush lips moved gently against his. Small hands came up to cup his jaw and thread through the almost too long chocolate brown locks at the base of his head, the feel of nails scratching gently making him whine. Jimin took the whine as his cue to deepen the kiss, sliding his tongue against Taehyung’s and using his grip on the younger boy’s hair to tilt his head. Taehyung’s hands scrabbled for purchase, latching onto his lapels as he pulled the older boy closer, one hand coming up to cup the back of Jimin’s neck and hold him there, kissing back just as enthusiastically. He didn’t know what it was about this boy, something in him drove Taehyung wild, made him insatiable in his need for closeness.

            They kissed for a few long minutes, Taehyung only tearing himself away when Jimin’s wandering hands started going after the buttons on his dress shirt, laughing breathlessly. “No, no! Bad Jiminie, we’re late as it is!” The pout on the ebony haired boy’s face only made him laugh harder, pulling him in for one more heated kiss before gently pushing him back. “Tonight, I promise.” His attempt at a sultry wink elicited a light giggle from the older boy.

            “Fine. I suppose I can wait, though you make it hard when you have the gall to look like that.” Jimin gave him an obvious up and down, his lips curling up into a smirk as they met Taehyung’s gaze and noted his blushing face. “My baby looks fucking pretty.”

            Taehyung couldn’t help but preen under the praise, his hand sliding along the velvety material of his flower patterned red jacket, a black button down tucked into dress pants and fashionable white scarf making up his outfit. In his quest for something different, he was rocking a dark brunet perm, the strands in the back a little too long and his bangs falling in soft curls into his eyes; his Eomma said he was due for a haircut, but Jimin seemed to love the extra hair to grip on to at night. “You’re looking pretty damn hot yourself, Jiminie.” He tugged the other boy closer to him again, wrapping his arms around his tiny waist. “My beautiful angel turned devil.”

            “Only for you.” Jimin’s answering smile was soft as he went up on his tip toes to press a kiss to Taehyung’s cheek. “Ready to go? I already put the gifts in the car.”

            “I’m more than ready.” Taehyung pulled back, tangling their fingers together as he led the way towards the door. “Let’s get these fools married.”

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

            Taehyung watched with rapt interest as Seokjin tore things from the wardrobe in front of him and threw them over his shoulder, Jungkook standing ready and catching the items he threw before they could hit the ground. Yoongi was sprawled across a sofa, his jacket laying forgotten over the back of a chair and a glass of champagne in his hand as he watched the older male rapidly make a mess. “Um, hi?” He sounded perplexed as he let the door swing shut behind him with a soft click.

            “Taehyung, there you are!” Seokjin whipped around and headed straight for the younger boy, a strained and frantic look on his face. “Where have you been? You’re late!”

            “Sorry, Jiminie and I—” Taehyung began to apologize, but the older male cut him off.

            “Oh, right, I should have known you and your boy toy would be too busy necking to show up on time. I ask for one thing on today of all days, and everybody thinks they can just—”

            “Hyung, take a breath.” Yoongi called from the safety of the couch, rolling his eyes. “He’s here now, right? No sense stressing.”

            “Here, have a drink.” Jungkook quickly stepped forward to offer a champagne glass to the eldest boy (Taehyung noted it was filled straight to the top, no messing around). “Take the edge off, you’re a bit worked up—” He winced at his word choice just as Seokjin whirled around to face him, eyes accusing.

            “Worked up? You call this worked up?” He thrust a hand to his chest dramatically, his lip curling. “I’m absolutely fine! I would be even better if my groomsmen were where they’re supposed to be, when they’re supposed to be there!” He snatched the glass from Jungkook, downing the entire thing in one go before pushing it back into the younger boy’s hands and stomping off towards the bathroom, letting the door slam behind him with a flick of his robe.

            Taehyung just stared in bewilderment, turning to raise an eyebrow at the other two boys in the room. “What the fuck?” Yoongi just sighed and fell back against the pillows, Jungkook shrugging as he poured himself a glass of champagne and sipped it. “Did I miss something?”

            “Hyung is just being a little higher strung than normal.” Yoongi replied, wincing at Seokjin’s “I’m not high strung!” shriek through the door.

            “He’s been like this since he woke up.” Jungkook added, glancing towards the door nervously. “Nothing anyone says can calm him down. And frankly, I’m terrified to try again.” There was a loud thump against the door, signaling something being thrown, and they all jumped.

            “What did you guys do to him?” Taehyung wondered aloud, heading towards the bathroom door. He leaned his ear against the wood, knocking lightly as he ignored Yoongi and Jungkook’s squawks of protest. “Hyungie? It’s Taetae, can I come in?” He tried with his cutest voice.

            “No!”

            The resounding thump against the door had Taehyung jumping, cursing under his breath when his head hit the door. “Hyung!”

            “Leave me alone! Cancel the whole wedding! I can’t work like this!”

            The door was locked when he hesitantly tried the knob. “You don’t mean that, come on. Let me in, let’s talk about it.” Receiving no reply, Taehyung sighed, turning to the dark haired boy splayed out across the couch. Yoongi met his gaze questioningly at the brunet’s wave, his eyebrow raising when Taehyung pointed expectantly at the lock. Eyes widening in recognition, the older boy shook his head.

            Taehyung frowned and jerked his finger at the knob harder.

            Yoongi just shook his head again.

            The brunet growled softly in agitation, pulling his phone out of his pocket and typing out a quick text, sending it off with a smug smile. Yoongi gave him a suspicious look, pulling out his phone and swiping the text open.

Kim Taehyung

[Unlock the door or Hobi-hyung sees something you don’t want him to. four words for you: seventh grade Halloween kitty.]

            Yoongi’s head shot up, a scowl on his face. “You wouldn’t dare.” Taehyung simply raised an eyebrow, stifling his smile when the older boy forced himself to his feet with a dark look. He reached into his suit jacket as he made his way over, producing a small kit as he knelt beside Taehyung. “Brat.”

            “Love you too, hyung!” It only took a few seconds, Yoongi expertly working the delicate tools and unlocking the door with a practiced hand. Jungkook applauded as the brunet sprung up and threw the door open, revealing a broad back as he stepped into the bathroom. “Be right back!” He called to the other boys as he quickly shut and relocked the door behind him, leaving him alone with Seokjin.

            Seokjin was sitting at the sink, sunk down into the chic puff stool placed in front of the open countertop of the vanity with his face in his hands. His broad shoulders were tensed, his back bowed with his elbows on the counter; Taehyung took a hesitant step forwards just as the blonde man spoke. “Why does Yoongi have his lock picking kit with him? This is a wedding, not a heist.”

            “You know hyung, always prepared.” Taehyung replied offhandedly as he stood beside the older man, hoisting himself up to sit on the vanity. “What’s up?” He let his voice soften, worry coloring his words as the older boy laughed humorlessly.

            “Nothing. Nothing is up.” His hands scrubbed at his face before raking through his blonde hair, pushing it off his forehead. “This is a huge mistake.”

            Taehyung felt his heart drop into his stomach, eyes wide with shock. “What?”

            “I can’t do this. This is a mistake.” Seokjin was whispering now, his hands shaking lightly where they fell against the counter, his eyes staring sightlessly into the mirror. Taehyung was horrified to note the redness around his eyes, his cheeks wet in the bright vanity lights. “I can’t marry Joon.”

            “Hyung, what are you saying? Of course you can!”

            “No, you don’t get it Taehyung!” Seokjin stood then, pacing the room as he wrung his hands in front of him. “I don’t—I can’t—this isn’t right!” Taehyung stood too, holding his hands out in a calming gesture as he quickly replied, heart pounding in his chest.

            “Take a breath for a second, okay? You’re not thinking rationally—”

            Seokjin turned to him then, eyes welling with tears as he threw his hands up in the air. “I am! I’m finally thinking rationally after almost four years, and I can’t get married, not today and not to Namjoon!”

            Taehyung could hear frantic whispering from outside the bathroom and he hoped one of the other guys would send for help, the brunet was woefully unequipped for this. “But—but you love him! Hyung, you love Namjoon-hyung right?”

            Tears finally spilled over, Seokjin wiping at his face almost angrily. “Of course I do, how is that even a question?”

            “Then why? Why can’t you marry him?” Taehyung took a step forward, only stopping when the blonde threw up a hand to ward him off. “If you love him, what’s the issue? Are you just having a weird case of wedding jitters?” He could hear a door opening and more whispers in the background, a deeper voice joining the mix.

            Seokjin didn’t seem to notice, wilting back onto the stool and putting his face in his hands. “I can’t do this, I won’t do this! Tell everybody to go home, cancel the whole thing, please Taehyung.” He was rocking lightly, and the brunet’s heart panged as he quickly knelt beside the older boy, carefully placing his hands on his robed knees.

            “Hyung, please! You’re scaring me, what’s going on? Why are you saying these things?”

            “Because I don’t deserve him!” Seokjin’s hands fell from his face as he made a vague gesture, a self-deprecating smile on his face. “I don’t deserve Kim Namjoon.”

            “What are you—”

            “I’m selfish, Taehyung. And snobby. I’m sarcastic and cutting to a fault. I’m not patient with anyone, and I’m a bitch for no reason most of the time. I’m incredibly self-absorbed and don’t spare a thought for the people around me more often than not. I want what I want and damn all who get in my way.”

            Taehyung was shaking his head, blown away. “Hyung, that’s not—”

            “It is, Tae. Do you know how often I’ve been told I’m a terrible person? Just a pretty face hiding a rotten core? And I can’t disagree, really. Before I moved here and met you all, I was. . . a bad person Tae. I used others for my benefit. And I’ve tried to change, but a leopard can’t change its spots. I’m the same person I was, and I’ll always be this person even if I don’t want to be.” Seokjin let out a wet laugh. “But Joonie. . . Joon is so inherently good. He’s so intelligent and kind, empathetic and sweet. He goes out of his way to help others, to be the person others run to if they have a problem. He’s trustworthy, and goofy, and just. . . the best person I’ve had the fortune to meet. And I don’t deserve him.”

            “Hyung.” Taehyung whispered, voice breaking on the word. Seokjin just held up a hand, shaking his head.

            “I was deluding myself to think that this could work. I met Namjoon and fell so far in love that I lost clarity. I got him to move in with me, and I loved it. I love waking up to his beautiful smile, those dimples, his voice when he first wakes up before his coffee. . . I love that he’s the last thing I see every night when I close my eyes. I’m so privileged to have had the chance to hold and love him, and when he asked me to marry him I just. . . I couldn’t help myself. But I can’t do this to him.” The tears were steady now, even as Taehyung made hushing noises and wiped at his face. “I can’t go through with this, knowing I’m condemning Joon to a life with someone who isn’t half as good as him, who isn’t worthy of him. Namjoon deserves someone just as great as he is, and I’m never going to be that person Tae! So please, please just go out there and tell everyone to go home. And tell Joonie. . . tell him I love him and I’m sorry.” Seokjin’s voice broke on a sob as he covered his face again, shoulders shaking. Taehyung stood and wrapped his arms around the older man, pulling his head against his abdomen and gently stroking his hair.

            “Hyung, none of that is true! You’re a great person—”

            “Stop, Taehyung. Just stop. I’ve made up my mind.” Seokjin lightly pushed him away, reaching for a tissue. “Please just do what I said. It’s what I want.”

            “What about what I want?”

            The voice was soft and wounded, Seokjin’s eyes widening as his head snapped audibly  around to stare in shock at the closed door. “Joonie? What are you—”

            “How dare you, Jin.” Namjoon’s voice wavered slightly through the wood, a gentle thud of a fist against the door.

            “Joonie—”

            “How dare you think for even a moment that you aren’t good enough for me. How can you say those things? Not only about us, but about yourself? Can’t you see how absolutely wonderful you are?”

            Seokjin’s eyes were wide and teary as he stared at the door. “I—"

            “Who stayed up with me when I was studying for exams last semester and freaking out, despite having a photoshoot the next day just to lend me a hand and keep me from falling apart?”

            “Me, but—”

            “And who nursed me back to healthy when I had pneumonia last fall? Spoon feeding me, holding me when I felt I was choking on my own mucus, staying up all night to monitor my temperature?”

            “I did—”

            “And when the orphanage down the street needed volunteers to help with their nursery, who cancelled everything on their schedule to work for them for three weeks?”

            Seokjin looked frustrated and flustered as he nearly glared at the door. “Me, Joon. I don’t get—”

            “Kim Seokjin, you have the biggest heart of anyone I’ve ever met.” Namjoon’s tone was firm, though fondly amused. “You always know how to cheer me up and make me laugh even if I’m crying. You’re always there to listen to my problems and help me solve them if you can, and you’re always ready to help me at a drop of a hat. Babe, I don’t always feel like I’m worthy of you.”

            Seokjin gasped softly and Taehyung hid a small smile as the older man stood and a took a half step towards the closed door. “Joonie, no, what’s that supposed to mean? You couldn’t be more wrong love, I—”

            “You’re heartbreakingly beautiful Seokjin, mentally and physically. You’re so smart, quick with a witty comment and elaborate arguments. You’re quirky in a way that keeps me guessing, I never know what you’re going to do or say and it’s exhilarating. You’re such a flirt, you always know how to make me all red and flustered even after four years, and it shocks me every time because you’re flirting with me. I’m this big, awkward, clumsy oaf and somehow I’ve tricked you into loving me when you could have anybody else in this entire world at your beck and call.” Namjoon laughed lightly through the wood. “But you said yes to me! And I want to be your husband, Jinnie, because I love you more than anything and anyone in the world.” Seokjin was leaning against the door now, crying quietly as his arms clutched himself tight around his middle. “So please hyung, don’t say those horrible things about the man I love.”

            “I love you too, Joon. I want to be your husband so bad.” His voice was raspy with tears but calmer than it had been since the brunet walked in, and Taehyung felt his shoulders relax as he let out an inaudible sigh of relief.

            “Well, I guess I’ll see you at the alter then.”

            Seokjin laughed softly, wiping at his face. “Are you sure? I’m kind of a mess right now.”

            “You’re always a mess, Jinnie.” Namjoon teased, laughing as Seokjin made a soft sound of protest. “But I am too.”

            “So, you wanna be messy together, is what you’re saying?” The blonde was waggling his eyebrows, and Taehyung laughed at the sound of Jungkook gagging on the other side of the door. “Should I let you in?”

            “Seokjin.” Namjoon sounded flustered and Taehyung could picture the blush on his face, though he knew the other man had to be giving his big, dimpled smile despite his embarrassment. “I’m leaving now, I’ll see you soon okay?”

            “No kiss good bye?”

            “You know it’s bad luck to see the bride on his wedding day.” Namjoon’s teasing had Seokjin laughing hard, his wind shield wiper laugh that was so goofy sounding but made them all smile regardless. “I love you, Jinnie.”

            “I love you too, Namjoon. See you soon.” Seokjin replied softly, listening as Namjoon walked away and the sound of footsteps faded, the soft click of a door signaling his departure. The older man sighed and turned to face Taehyung, a somewhat sheepish look on his still damp face. “I’m sorry Tae.”

            “It’s okay, always knew you’d be something of a bridezilla.” Taehyung grinned at the look his response got, stepping forward with open arms. “Okay, bring it in hyung.” Seokjin rolled his eyes but smiled nonetheless, letting the brunet embrace him. There was the soft sound of jiggling at the door knob both boys turned just in time to see the door being pushed open. Yoongi was carefully closing his kit, tucking it into his suit jacket with a smirk as Jungkook walked in and threw himself into the hug.

            “Yoongi, you are a menace. I’ll be confiscating that later.” Seokjin pointed threateningly, but the dark haired boy only rolled his eyes. “And who called Namjoon when I was having my break down?”

            “Me, hyung.” Jungkook chirped unashamedly, squeezing the older boy until he made a weak sound of protest. “I knew nothing we’d say would help; you only ever listen to Namjoon-hyung!”

            “Brat.” Seokjin replied, smacking him on the back of the head, the youngest brunet yelped in pain then flushed pink when the blonde pressed a soft kiss to his forehead. “Thank you.”

            “Yoongi-hyung, get in here!” Taehyung called, waving the older boy over. There was a lot of shuffling and whining as the four boys hugged, Yoongi pretending he hated it and Taehyung clinging tight with laughter. Seokjin finally pushed them all off, dusting off his robe before turning to face the vanity; he took in his reflection, his flushed face and puffy eyes, leaning closer to the mirror in horror.

            “My god. My handsome face! I think this is the closest I’ve come to looking like. . . like—” He seemed to struggle with his words, and Taehyung immediately opened him mouth to disagree with whatever self-deprecating words would come out of his mouth, “—like one of you!” Taehyung’s mouth snapped shut as he rolled his eyes. “Is this what ugly feels like?”

            “Yes.” Jungkook sighed in exasperation, even as he hid a smile.

            “And it’s not a great look on you. Ten out of ten, would not recommend.” Taehyung added, dodging the smack aimed at the back of his head with a boxy grin.

            “You’re all terrible groomsmen and friends, and the moment this wedding is over I never want to hear from a single one of you again. This friendship is cancelled.” Seokjin huffed as he flounced down onto the stool with a pout. The other boys just laughed.

            “We love you too, hyung.” Yoongi replied dryly. “Now, let’s get this over with before you have another epic meltdown.”

            “Terrible groomsmen.”

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

            If you asked Taehyung later, he definitely didn’t cry.

            There was something so surreal about watching two of his very best friends say their vows and finally tie the knot. Namjoon held index cards in shaking hands, voice wobbly with nerves and emotion as he spoke about their bond and how Seokjin was everything to him. He glanced up periodically, face flushed as the older man eyed him lovingly despite him being a stuttering mess. Seokjin didn’t need cards, he held Namjoon’s hands in his as he stared into his eyes earnestly, swearing to love the other man eternally, to cherish every moment together. He promised to never go to bed angry, to always communicate, and to make sure that Namjoon knew he was loved. The bespectacled man was crying by the end of his speech, and Seokjin’s chin wobbled even with the giant smile that never left his face.

            Taehyung glanced across the wedding party to find Jimin smiling brightly at him, his hands clasped in front of him with his ringed fingers interlaced. The brunet felt a rush of affection at the wetness in the other’s eyes, sending him a boxy smile as a warmth filled his chest. He looked so good, elegant in his grey suit sandwiched between Hoseok and Namjoon’s brother, and there was a corner of Taehyung’s mind that realized that Namjoon and Seokjin could be them one day, surrounded by friends and family, vowing to be together until the end of their days. For a moment, he could picture them holding hands and facing each other on a white sandy beach, a flower stuck behind Jimin’s ear and Taehyung’s bare toes wiggling in warm sand as the water lapped at their ankles. He could hear their friends and families cheering as he pulled Jimin in and kissed him, their smiles so wide that the kiss was more teeth than anything, but it was perfect regardless. He imagined carrying Jimin through the door of a hotel suite, rose petals all over and a bottle of champagne on ice waiting for them, his cheeks warming at the thought of the lights going out and fingers interlaced, the words ‘husband’ on their lips.

            Jimin quirked his eyebrow questioningly at the sudden flush on Taehyung’s face, but the brunet just bit his lip and smiled, shaking his head lightly to dispel the thoughts for now, before facing the priest again. It was only moments later that the two older men were sliding rings onto each other’s fingers and meeting for a long, lingering kiss as the priest pronounced them married. There were cheers all around them, the room blurring as Taehyung teared up even as he smiled brightly, hands clapping as the two had their moment in the spotlight. He was cheering for Namjoon and Seokjin, but the only thing he could see was a wide, crescent moon smile across from him.

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

            “I don’t think I’ll ever eat again.” Taehyung groaned lowly as he leaned back in his chair, throwing an arm around Jimin’s shoulders as his other hand came to rub his stomach with a wince. The ebony haired boy just laughed at him, his hand falling to rest on Taehyung’s thigh, thumb stroking absentmindedly (and distractingly) over the muscle there. The brunet’s lips quirked up as the characters for ‘I love you’ traced near his knee. He returned the sentiment with a kiss to Jimin’s temple and a soft whisper.

            “No one told you to eat three portions of everything.” Yoongi pointed out, completely unnecessarily in Taehyung’s opinion. “And who needs two pieces of cake?”

            “It only counts as two bites since I could fit a whole piece in my mouth.” The brunet countered, his grin bright and boxy at the look of thinly veiled disgust on Yoongi’s face.

            “That’s the dumbest argument I’ve ever heard.”

            Taehyung raised an eyebrow. “Really? Out of all the dumb things I’ve done and rationalized, that’s the dumbest one you’ve heard?”

            The dark haired boy paused to consider, a grudgingly amused smile pulling at his lips when he finally shrugged. “Okay, point taken. I’ve heard dumber.”

            “That’s for sure. You should have heard the argument he gave when I found out about Yeontan.” Jimin agreed, giggling as Taehyung shot him a betrayed look. “He actually stole him from the pet store.”

            “I rescued him Jiminie, we’ve went over this a hundred and five times!”

            “That’s not how the police saw it.”

            Taehyung sniffed in disdain, turning up his nose. “Well, they never claimed to be open minded, and I found them quite rude. But the food wasn’t too bad in lock up, though the mattress could have used replacing.” Taehyung winced as he remembered the strain on his back.

            Jimin was shaking his head even as he laughed. “My boyfriend, the convict.”

            “So much had changed by the time I got out.” The brunet sighed softly, his hand coming to cover his heart dramatically. “The acclimation was the hardest part about returning to civilian life.”

            Jungkook paused where he was snacking on another piece of cake, giving Taehyung a droll look. “You were there for five hours.”

            “A lifetime, really.”

            Yoongi’s eyes narrowed and he opened his mouth to respond when he was interrupted by Hoseok sliding into the seat next to him, the red head pressing a kiss to the apple of his cheek with a smile. The dark haired boy couldn’t help but smile back, his cheeks pinking as his eyes softened, taking the refilled glass of whiskey Hoseok handed him. “I’m back! What are we talking about?”

            “Taehyung’s arrest record.” Namjoon was smiling where he sat beside Jimin, his hand intertwined with Seokjin’s, the blonde’s head on his shoulder as he sipped his champagne. “And whether two slices of cake counts as two bites.”

            Hoseok glanced to Taehyung with a grin. “For Tae? Definitely does.”

            The brunet stood, high fiving the red head before finding his seat again, looking awfully smug. “And this is why you’re my favorite hyung.” There were protests around the table, even as the red head laughed joyfully.

            “You’re so sweet! And you’ll always be right under Jimin-ah.” The table roared with laughter as Taehyung stared at the other boy in shock, pouting even as Jimin’s hand came up to card through his wild curls.

            Taehyung turned to his lover, his pout deepening. “Jiminie, Hobi-hyung is being mean to me! And everyone is picking on me. Why did we even bother coming?” The ebony haired boy laughed, leaning in to press a quick kiss to pouting lips.

            “Because we love them.”

            The brunet just huffed in reply, even as he could feel a smile pulling at his lips. The table was quiet for a few minutes and Taehyung took the chance to glance around the banquet hall and reflect on the evening. The reception was in the Kim family restaurant, a fine dining establishment that Seokjin’s parents had opened years ago when he was just a kid. The tables were round and covered in white table cloths, beautiful centerpieces made from candles, fairy lights, and flowers taking up the middle of the tables. Dinner had been superb, roasted meats and perfectly cooked side dishes; it was an open bar, and everyone had heavily indulged. Even Taehyung, who never had more than a drink, was feeling a little tipsy, his stomach warm from the alcohol he’d ingested. There was a flush on Hoseok and Jimin’s faces, a redness that spoke of drink and dancing, a silly, lovesick smile on Seokjin’s lips that hadn’t faded all night.

            Taehyung stifled a yawn, noting that a lot of the guests had left already, the only full table left being the one he and his friends were sitting at. He scooted a bit closer to Jimin, smiling when the older boy leaned on his shoulder, his silky ebony locks tickling Taehyung’s neck. “The wedding was beautiful.”

            “It was, wasn’t it?” Seokjin mused as he finally lifted his head, taking a sip from his champagne flute. His eyes were twinkling and bright, his gaze finding Namjoon’s. “It was a perfect day.”

            “And you were worried.” Namjoon mused, grinning when his husband smacked his chest playfully. He sobered as he turned to the group, his smile softening. “Thank you all for being here, for standing up there with us. Today wouldn’t have been the same without all of you.”

            “We’re happy to have been a part of your big day.” Yoongi replied, his tone warm. Hoseok nodded from beside him, sending the couple a bright smile.

            Jungkook, who had been mostly silent all night, spoke up then. He looked anxious, his fingers twiddling together on the table in front of him, his empty plate pushed to the side. “I know I don’t usually talk much about my feelings, or tell you guys how much I care, but. . . I love you guys. A lot. I’m happy to have you all in my life, and I consider us family. You guys are like the brothers I never asked for, but always wanted.” His smile was shy as they cooed at him, his hands coming up to cover his ears as his shoulder scrunched.

            “Aw, Kookie!” Taehyung blew him a kiss, making the brunet turn redder. “How sweet, you’re so adorable!”

            “Shut up, hyung.” He muttered. Seokjin had leaned over, pulling the younger boy into a tight side hug, Hoseok standing up to affectionately ruffle his hair.

            “What’s all the mush for?” Yoongi complained, sinking down in his seat as if annoyed. None of them were fooled, his smile too fond and happy to be exasperated. “You got something to say, kid?”

            “I, um, I have something to tell you guys, yeah.” Jungkook answered carefully, running a  hand through his hair. He took a few moments before continuing “So, a few months ago I sent in an audition tape to an entertainment company, BigHit. Well, three weeks ago I got called back for an in-person audition and. . . they signed me.” His smile was bright even as he covered his ears in embarrassment again, the rest of the group cheering excitedly.

            “Kook-ah, this is huge!” Hoseok cried enthusiastically, standing up to pull the younger boy into a proper hug, only relinquishing him when Yoongi moved in for his own tight hug. “All those years of pestering you to join our dance classes really paid off, huh?”

            “I’m so proud of you.” Seokjin was smiling wide, lifting his glass in a toast. “Our little Kookie’s going to be an idol!” There were glasses clinking around the table in cheers, everyone drinking deeply. Taehyung and Jimin stood in sync, moving to hug Jungkook tight and sandwich him between them as the ebony haired boy giggled. The younger boy was bright red from the attention, but clearly pleased, his bunny smile in full force.

            “I can’t believe this; how did I not know you even auditioned?” Taehyung pulled back, keeping his hands on Jungkook’s shoulders and shaking him lightly. Jimin was still practically plastered to the taller boys back, clinging to him with his arms around his waist.

            Jungkook seemed shy, his cheeks aflame as he patted Jimin’s hands over his belly button. “I didn’t tell anyone, not even my parents. I didn’t want to have to deal with everyone’s pity it they didn’t accept me, it also made it seem. . . less real if you guys didn’t know. I wasn’t thinking about it all the time. If I had told you, the anxiety would have been real and present for months.”

            “We understand.” Namjoon brushed Jimin and Taehyung off the brunet, gently pushing them back towards their seats so he could get his own hug finally. “We’re so damn proud of you, Kook. How do you feel?”

            Jungkook was grinning. “I’m so excited. I leave in a month to head to boot camp, but they’re thinking I could debut within the year. It feels unreal. I never dreamed they would actually sign me.”

            “But you’re so talented! We’ve been telling you that for years, they would have been crazy not to sign you.” Taehyung argued, tone earnest and loving. He couldn’t help the indignation that welled up at the thought of anyone discounting their Jungkook’s talents. “You can sing like a Disney prince, dance extremely well, and you’re hot! I mean, damn. What a package.”

            “Stop it, hyung!” Jungkook whined, covering his ears again as he sank into his seat amidst the laughter. “You’re so embarrassing.”

            “Our little Jungkookie is all grown up.” Seokjin lamented, resting his chin on his fist with a sad sounding sigh. “I can’t believe it. We’ll be able to point to him on billboards and TV screens one day and say, ‘I knew that brat before he was famous!’.”

            “Maybe he can finally treat us to a meal for once, after he gets rich and famous.” Yoongi added playfully, the other boys nodding in agreement even as Jungkook whined. Namjoon was asking questions about his contract and the brunet was doing his best to answer them, Jimin listening intently to the conversation. Taehyung couldn’t help but laugh when Seokjin ribbed him teasingly, the youngest boy of the group taking it good naturedly as he spoke about the experience with BigHit thus far.

            Jungkook was one of the most talented people Taehyung knew, he couldn’t lie. He was nearly as good a dancer as Hoseok and Jimin (not that he would ever admit that out loud to either boys unless he was ready to leave this mortal plane) with only half the training. Taehyung knew if Jungkook put his mind to something, he could do it, and do it well. Jungkook’s voice was always in high demand for Yoongi and Namjoon’s projects, more so then his own voice, his tenor clear and resonating. And then there was the fact that Jungkook had grown from an awkwardly cute toddler to a drop dead gorgeous adult man with the sex appeal of a god (Taehyung always found it funny that Jungkook was so attractive yet so repulsed by sex and relationships. He figured it was the gods way of evening the score for the rest of them). He was so incredibly proud of his friend, and he couldn’t help but get a little choked up. Taehyung swallowed hard around the lump in his throat, his smile shaky and his eyes burning wetly.

            “You okay, babe?” Jimin’s honied voice was right at his ear, his breath curling hotly around the sensitive skin of his lobe. Taehyung shivered lightly, nodding as his tongue came out to swipe along his bottom lip.

            “Yeah. Just a little emotional today.” His reply was just as soft, his big hand taking Jimin’s and pulling the smaller boy up and across his lap. Jimin went willingly, his arm slinging around Taehyung’s neck, while the brunet’s arms wrapped around his slim waist. The ebony haired boy dropped a kiss against dark brunet curls.

            “That’s fair. A lot has happened.”

            “Why do you two look so suspicious?” Seokjin’s voice broke through the conversation Namjoon and Jungkook had been having. Taehyung jumped guiltily, glancing to the older blonde only to realize Seokjin had his eyes trained on Yoongi and Hoseok, not him and Jimin. A quick look had him understanding.

            Hoseok was biting his lip, fingers drumming anxiously on the table as he shared a look with his boyfriend. Yoongi’s face was impassive as he leaned back into his seat, clearly having been whispering with the red head before they got caught in the act. There was silence for a moment before Hoseok spoke up. “We. . . have news to share too. We weren’t planning on saying anything for a few more weeks, but things were finalized unexpectedly today.”

            “What? What’s happening?” Taehyung’s grip on Jimin’s waist got tighter as he shifted to lean forwards a bit, Jimin’s small hand running through the hair at the nape of his neck soothingly.

            Hoseok and Yoongi shared another look, Hoseok’s encouraging, and the shorter boy took a deep breath before turning back to the group. “I got hired on as a music producer with a new company. They found the stuff Genius Lab produced up to their standards and they hired me on to work with their acts.” Yoongi tried to play it off nonchalantly, but he couldn’t hide the self-satisfied, pleased twitch of his lips. The announcement got another round of hugs and loud cheers, Jungkook whooping excitedly as Seokjin hugged the dark haired boy hard enough to have him wheezing. It took a while for them to settle back down, another round of champagne bottles retrieved and opened, Taehyung’s chest warm with happiness. Once it was finally quiet enough to be heard, Yoongi spoke up again, his eyes and expression more withdrawn and serious. “There’s something else though.”

            Namjoon had been the quietest, and Taehyung could see a certain sadness in his eyes. “Yoongi-hyung, what company?”

            Yoongi met his gaze, his lips tilting up in a small smile. “Capitol Records in Los Angeles, California.” There were soft gasps, Jimin covering his mouth in surprise. “I’ll. . . I leave in less than three months. They’re helping with moving expenses and giving me time to find a place to stay in the United States before my official start date.”

            Hoseok was smiling a shaky smile now, his hand coming out to intertwine tightly with Yoongi’s. “We leave in less than three months. I’m going with him.” His eyes were filled with tears as he glanced around at their friends. “We wanted to wait until it was all official to tell you guys, we didn’t mean to keep it from you. We just didn’t want to worry you if it fell through or hyung decided not to take the job. But it’s too good an opportunity for him to pass up. And I can’t stay here without him; where he goes, I go.” Hoseok swallowed hard. “Please don’t be angry with us.”

            When no one spoke, Yoongi’s gaze moved to the table top, a hand running through his hair. “I’m sorry. For this, and for springing it on you today of all days, I—"

            “Never apologize for chasing your dreams, hyung.” Namjoon was standing now, his hands placed firmly on the tabletop and his face serious. “And definitely don’t apologize for telling us today. Today is a day for celebrations, and I couldn’t be more thrilled for you both. I think this is a great opportunity and I would have had to personally kick your ass if you turned it down because you felt bad for leaving us all here.” His smile was big and dimpled.

            “More like had Jungkook kick his ass, let’s be honest husband.” Seokjin grinned up at the bespectacled man, his tone teasing. “My beanpole couldn’t hurt a fly.”

            “And it’s not like we’ll never see you again. This will be a great excuse to travel and see America! You can show us around, take us to all the sights.” Taehyung spoke up, his tone strained but happy. Jimin was nodding, his fingers running through Taehyung’s curls.

            “And there’s always holidays. We can take turns flying out and meeting up. Plus, we have video chat, social media, phone calls. . . things might be a bit different but we’ll always be close, so it won’t matter.” Jimin added with a bright smile, even as a tear rolled down his cheek. “I’ll miss my dance partner though, so Taehyungie will have to step up until our visits.” The brunet laughed at that, pressing a kiss to Jimin’s collarbone.

            “You have to keep a lookout for my debut. And maybe we’ll have a chance to work together, Yoongi-hyung! You can produce a song for me!” Jungkook’s eyes were sparkly with excitement, nudging the older boy with glee. “We can be each other’s in for projects and parties!”

            Hoseok and Yoongi both looked overwhelmed, Hoseok crying openly and Jimin left Taehyung’s lap to wrap him in a tight hug. “I love you guys, so much. And I’ll miss you more than you know.” Hoseok managed to hiccup out, Jimin wiping under his eyes with a smile.

            “We love you too. And it’s not forever, we’ll make it work. I’m so happy for you guys!” His voice was soft and sweet as he took Yoongi’s hand, the older boy stubbornly refusing to look up from the table. “Hyung—”

            “Don’t say anything else, otherwise I’m going to cry and my macho man image will be ruined.” Yoongi’s voice was gruff and weak, and Taehyung couldn’t help but laugh as he stood and wrapped his arms around the older boy’s neck from behind.

            “Don’t worry, your image was ruined a long time ago, lil’ meow meow.” He cooed, nuzzling the older boy’s ear despite his weak protests. Yoongi’s shoulders were shaking lightly, his body trembling in Taehyung’s embrace and he only squeezed harder, heart full to bursting.

            “I’d like to propose a toast.” Namjoon announced, once everyone was sitting down again, tears no longer flowing and breathing calm. He was standing again, his glass lifted in the air. “This year has brought a lot of changes already. I’m now married to the love of my life, starting this new chapter together with Seokjin, a brand new journey that I can hardly wait to embark on. Jungkook, the baby of our created family, will one day debut and become one of the biggest idols in South Korea, I guarantee it. And Yoongi is headed off to be a big shot producer in an American company, Hoseok going with him to be his north star and probably become one of the biggest influencers in dance in America.” He paused then, everyone’s eyes landing on Taehyung and Jimin. The brunet froze for a moment, cheeks warming as he waved them off.

            “Nothing new and exciting with us, we’re boring.” Taehyung stated, laughing when Jimin shoved at him. “What? It’s true!”

            Namjoon’s eyes were warm as he laughed. “And Jimin and Taehyung have proven not just to me, but to all of us, that love can conquer all things. Their love story has been inspiring, and while I don’t believe in a god, there’s no doubt in my mind that these two were meant to love each other. They make me believe in soulmates.” Taehyung swallowed hard, his eyes burning as he blinked rapidly, feeling Jimin’s arm settle around his waist and pull him close. Namjoon surveyed the group for a moment, his free hand touching lightly over his heart as he nodded to himself.

            “When we all met, we were a group of misfits trying to find our places and our people. It’s been years now, filled with laughter and love, heartbreak and growth, and most of all: friendship. Without you all, I wouldn’t be the man you see standing before you today. I’ve been so lucky to have each of you in my life. You’ve all taught me more about life then all my schooling could have hoped to prepare me for, and you’ve all been instrumental in my learning how to love myself. We may all come from different backgrounds, different cities, different circumstances, but I’m so very proud of who we’ve all become. So, whether we’re next door neighbors or oceans part, regardless of time zones and jobs, I know that we’ll be a family forever because our hearts recognize each other.” Namjoon lifted his glass and they all mirrored him, standing up with misty eyes and smiles firmly in place. “I love you guys. Cheers to new beginnings, dreams coming true, and loving each other just as much as we love ourselves. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.” Glassware clinking filled the room with a sharp and happy sound, Taehyung draining his glass with his very best friends surrounding him, a smile on his face.

            The gentle squeeze to his side had him looking down, Jimin’s eyes smile on display as he leaned closer. The brunet couldn’t help but lean down and press a long, slow kiss to those plump, pink lips. He deepened it after a moment, Jimin sighing into his mouth as their tongues slid together chastely before the brunet was pulling back. Jimin’s eyes fluttered open, his cheeks flushed with alcohol, tears, and happiness and Taehyung couldn’t help but press another quick kiss to his tempting mouth. His voice was soft and deep as he murmured, “I love you, Jiminie,” against those perfect lips. He felt the ebony haired boys smile as Jimin giggled softly.

            “I love you too, Taetae.” His smile was boxy as he pulled back to meet warm brown eyes.

            He couldn’t wait to see what the future held, either.

 

THE END (FOR NOW)

Chapter Text

            The early morning sunlight streamed in through the gaps in the curtains, the pale yellow speckling the sheets and warming bare skin. Jimin bit his lip, eyelashes fluttering as he rolled his hips slowly, leisurely lifting himself and settling back down against Taehyung’s hipbones with a soft moan. Big hands slid up bare thighs, gripping onto thin hips to help him along and try to speed up the pace, a low groan leaving kiss bitten lips as Jimin swatted his hands away in warning. “Jiminie, please.” Taehyung’s voice was low and raspy, sleep coating the words even as he rolled his hips up and sank his cock deeper into the blonde boy moving above him. Jimin’s breath caught in his throat, falling forward to lean harder on the hands placed on Taehyung’s pecs, the new angle carving a line of white hot pleasure through him as his prostate was stimulated.

            Jimin’s breathless laugh turned into a long, soft moan as he rolled his hips a little harder, grinding down and chasing the pleasurable sensations. “Patience Taetae, ah, always so impatient.” Taehyung’s laugh was low, his hands sneaking up Jimin’s thick thighs as the older boy moved unhurriedly.

            “Just want you.” He whispered, grinning when Jimin shot him a smile, craning his neck up to accept a kiss as Jimin leaned down, swallowing Jimin’s moan greedily. The blonde moved a little quicker despite his teasing, hips and thighs working even as he trembled; Taehyung sat up, one hand against the mattress to support them and the other arm winding around Jimin’s tiny waist to pull him closer and kiss him hungrily. The blonde responded enthusiastically, arms circling Taehyung’s neck and fingers burying themselves in peach locks as he rose and fell, tongues tangling lazily as the soft sound of skin against skin filled the room.

            Taehyung’s eyes opened slowly, a smile spreading across his face at the sight of Jimin’s rosy cheeks, strands of hair sticking to his forehead with perspiration, his lips falling open as soft sounds of pleasure left his mouth. He was beautiful like this, blissed out and loved up in the cradle of Taehyung’s arms, and the peach haired boy leaned in to nuzzle against his neck, lips leaving a trail of kisses against soft skin. “Tae.” The call was more of a whine than anything, Jimin’s arms trembling around him, his hips stuttering; the sound had Taehyung groaning and resting his forehead against the smaller boys, biting his own lip before leaning in to bite Jimin’s.

            “I know, I know. I got you, Chim.” The hand on the mattress moved to grip Jimin’s untouched cock, stroking firmly with a gentle flick of his wrist. Jimin’s mouth fell open on a soft cry, Taehyung’s other hand coming up to grip blonde locks and yank his head to the side, mouth sucking bruises into tender skin. The smaller boy was moving faster, seemingly unable to decide between fucking up into Taehyung’s grip or down on his hard cock, whimpering with need as he was shoved to the edge. Taehyung didn’t relent, lips quirking into a smile against warm skin as the blonde made a sweet, “ah, ah, ah,” sound before he was coming, Taehyung’s name nearly sung as he clenched around the younger boy. Taehyung wasn’t far behind, the tightness from Jimin’s orgasm just enough to finish him with a few shallow upward thrusts, his moan long and low before Jimin was kissing him through it as his body shook apart at the seams.

            Their lips met in a sated kiss, bodies warm and buzzing with pleasure before the blonde slowly lifted off, Taehyung grimacing at the feeling as he slipped out. Jimin fell on the bed beside him, chest heaving with exertion and an arm thrown over his eyes as they settled, bodies cooling and calming down in the comfortable silence. The peach haired boy laughed under his breath after a second, twisting onto his side to face the blonde with a teasing smile. “Good morning to you too.” Jimin’s laughter was as bright as the rising sun, sparkling and filling the room with champagne bubbles, a familiar fond aching filling Taehyung’s chest.

            “Morning.” Jimin whispered back, rolling to face Taehyung and nuzzle under the taller boy’s chin. “I missed you.”

            “We’re sleeping in the same bed.”

            “So?” Jimin glanced up at him, pouting playfully even as Taehyung grinned, his arm wrapping around the taller boy’s waist to pull him closer. “We were sleeping. I was away from you for almost eight hours.”

            “You’re ridiculous.” Taehyung replied, pressing a kiss to sweaty blonde locks.

            “You love me though.”

            “I do.” His sigh was a happy one as he rolled onto his back, pulling the small blonde up against his side. “And you love me.”

            “More than anything.” Jimin agreed quietly, kissing gently along Taehyung’s neck, nipping playfully. “Want me to prove it?” Taehyung shivered lightly at the sultry tone, eyes wide as the blonde propped himself up and kissed down his chest. His mouth found a nipple, gentle sucks giving way to sharp bites that had the peach haired boy’s back arching on a moan.

            “Jiminie—”

            “Shhh, let me take care of you.” He sounded amused, his hand finding Taehyung’s sensitive cock and slowly stroking the younger boy back to life, the overstimulation making his eyes flutter closed. It was too much and not enough at the same time, Taehyung’s hips kicking up then back down as if to get away, his lip between his teeth as he whined. “There you go, that’s it lovely. Just enjoy.” Jimin chuckled lowly as he slid down between Taehyung’s legs, his nose running along Taehyung’s pubic bone and through dark, coarse hair. “You know, I love your nonexistent refractory period.” His tone was conversational and maybe a little mocking, making Taehyung’s cock twitch in his hand. A sudden kiss pressed to the head punched the air out of Taehyung’s lungs in a whoosh.

            “You’re just trying to kill me; I see your game.” Taehyung’s eyes opened to meet amused brown eyes, biting his lip as Jimin leaned down and lapped at the head. The blonde’s soft sound of satisfaction as he ran his tongue along the precum beaded there made Taehyung groan and fall back against the pillow, hips jerking in response. “God, Jimin-ah. I love you baby.”

            “I know.” Jimin’s giggle was light before he was sinking his mouth down, engulfing Taehyung’s cock in a wet heat that had a strangled moan leaving his lips. Jimin didn’t bother holding his hips down, drawing one of Taehyung’s hands to his hair as he bobbed his head. Taehyung’s groan was low and deep as he locked his fingers in blonde locks, hips circling lightly as he panted; no matter how many times he experienced it, no matter how often Jimin blew him (and it was often), he was always blown away by Jimin’s oral prowess. Jimin’s tongue was long and wicked, dancing along his cock as he pulled back with a lewd slurping sound, cheeks hollowed and lips puffy where they were stretched around his dick.  Taehyung couldn’t help but watch, even as his eyes fluttered with every jolt of pleasure, fingers tightly gripping Jimin’s hair to help guide him. He could feel the older man’s smirk as he pulled up and off, eyes dark and smug as he met Taehyung’s gaze, eyebrows waggling playfully before he was leaning back down, sucking a dark bruise into a tan thigh before mouthing at Taehyung’s balls as his hand lazily stroked his cock. “Good boy, Taehyungie.” His voice was pitched lower, his chuckle warm as Taehyung gasped, the words sending a rush of pleasure straight to the warmth coiling in his groin. “Always so good for me, huh? Good for hyung.”

            “Yes, yes, Jimin-ah.” Taehyung sounded wrecked beyond measure, his voice drenched in pure lust and want, almost a whimper.

            The nip to the juncture of his thigh was sharp and punishing, making him gasp in surprise. “What was that?”

            Taehyung’s eyes slid closed as he flushed all the way down his chest, his cock twitching despite his embarrassment. He gulped, a ragged moan leaving his lips as he finally responded. “Yes hyung.” It was a whisper but Jimin seemed satisfied, dropping his mouth back down on Taehyung’s cock and taking him all the way down until it hit the back of his throat; the peach haired boy was mess of soft cries and moans, Jimin’s head bobbing rapidly, alternating between swallows and hums, tonguing at the weeping slit until Taehyung was nearly in tears with the need to come.

            “Close, Tae?” Jimin pulled off long enough to whisper, blowing lightly on the spit slick cock in front of him, stroking it firmly as he waited for an answer. Taehyung nodded hastily, thighs trembling where they bracketed the blonde’s head. Jimin smiled, his gaze locked with Taehyung’s as he stuck his tongue out and slowly licked a line from base to tip, gathering the precum there before withdrawing to swallow, Taehyung’s chest heaving with need as he made quiet, desperate sounds. “Do you deserve to come again, Taetae?”

            “Y-Yes, please, I need to. I need to Jimin-ah, please let me!” Jimin’s eyes narrowed as his jaw set, one eyebrow lifting. Taehyung cursed quietly under his breath before biting his lip, widening his eyes the way he knew always got him his way. “Please hyung? Please can I come?” The frown disappeared, the predatory gleam back as Jimin smirked.

            “Go ahead Tae, come for hyung.” Jimin’s mouth was back on him, tongue and mouth working his cock unrelentingly, Taehyung’s orgasm hitting him like a truck. His back arched as his mouth opened on a silent cry of his lover’s name, fingers clenching tight into blonde strands. Jimin sucked him down greedily, swallowing as he slowly stroked him through it, not stopping until the peach haired boy was weakly smacking at him, finally releasing his spent cock. Taehyung melted into a puddle on the bed, tear tracks drying on his face as he fought for breath. Jimin was grinning as he crawled up and over him, leaning down to kiss him deeply. Taehyung’s hands rucked through the older boy’s hair as he gripped onto his neck, holding him there as he kissed back lazily, tasting himself in Jimin’s mouth as their tongues tangled languidly.

            “Holy fuck.” Taehyung practically wheezed as Jimin sat back, perched on his hip bones with a self-satisfied twist to his mouth. His gaze was happy and adoring as Taehyung finally opened his eyes, meeting the look with a tired smile. “I think you’ve done it. You’ve officially sucked my soul from my body. Congrats Jiminie, you’ve turned me into a worthless pile of bones.”

            Jimin’s laughter was bright and amused as he leaned down to catch Taehyung’s lips in another searing kiss, pulling back too soon because of his wide smile. His hand brushed peach locks out of Taehyung’s eyes, the tips of his fingers lightly brushing along Taehyung’s cheekbone to curve against his jaw. “I love you.”

            Heart feeling too full, Taehyung grinned big and boxy, eyes dancing. “I love you too. Now get that sweet ass back up here, let’s get you cleaned up.”

            “With your tongue?”

            “With my tongue.”

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

            “Eomma! We’re here!” Taehyung sang as he pushed the door open, sliding his key back in his pocket as he all but danced into the entryway. “Your favorite child has arrived!”

            She peeked through the kitchen doorway, wiping her hands on a towel as she smiled fondly at him, eyes twinkling as she took them in. “Jimin-ah is here?”

            Taehyung’s smile dropped into open mouthed shock as Jimin simply laughed, brushing by his stunned boyfriend to be folded into a hard embrace. “Seriously Eomma, that joke again? Even here? In my own home?”

            “You don’t live here anymore. And can you blame any of us? Jimin is just so adorable.” She nearly cooed, pinching Jimin’s cheek as the blonde grinned. Taehyung pouted and stared enviously; last time he had tried to do that, Jimin nearly beat his ass (in bed with a riding crop, blind folded and gagged until he cried; it was an Easter to remember).

            “I’m cute too.” Taehyung whined, taking the few steps needed to plaster himself against Jimin’s back and throw his arms around his Eomma. Jimin giggled from where he was squished between them, the sound choked as they squeezed him tighter. “Eomma!”

            “Fine, you’re very cute honey bear. Jesus. Were you always this needy, or is that Jimin-ah’s doing?”

            “It might be my fault, it’s hard to say no to him.” Jimin commented, cheeks flushed with pleasure as they finally released him, hurrying back to where they’d set Yeontan’s carrier on the ground. “These two could get away with murder, I’m a weak man.”

            “You’ll grow out of it. Pretty soon you’ll be able to look Taehyung-ah in the eyes and tell him to fuck off without an ounce of hesitation.” Her smirk was gleeful as Taehyung threw her another scandalized look. “Trust me, practice makes perfect.”

            “Eomma!”

            “I’ll take your word for it.” Jimin grinned at her, his smile lighting up the room, and the peach haired boy couldn’t help the rush of satisfaction as he watched his Eomma’s gaze soften as she fell in love with his boyfriend all over again. His smile was soft as he followed them into the kitchen and settled at the island, Yeontan barking with excitement as Jimin and his Eomma chattered about random things, watching as the blonde flitted around the kitchen as he helped her prepare dinner.

            Things hadn’t always been this easy. When they had first gotten back together, his Eomma had been cold towards Jimin, freezing him out and refusing to have a conversation with him. In those first few months, she’d repeatedly told Taehyung that he deserved better, that while Jimin might make a good friend, it was silly to trust him with his heart again. It bothered him to no end and he could tell Jimin was uncomfortable whenever he’d come over, shying away from contact with the younger boy in front of his family, talking less and less until he barely spoke a word and Taehyung had to rely on old means of communication to get a response from the older boy. When he’d finally lost it, it was long overdue; he ended up yelling at his Eomma and causing a huge scene in front of their extended family that Christmas, aunts and uncles looking on aghast as they fought, though he’d caught his grandmother’s approving smile when he’d dragged Jimin from the house and into the cold winter night. He’d been in a foul mood for three weeks afterwards, temper so short Jimin tip toed around him whenever they were together, until it became too much for the older boy and he broke down (much to Taehyung’s surprise); the guilt was eating him alive, Jimin blaming himself for the Kim family’s dysfunction.

            It had taken weeks of Taehyung doing his utmost to assuage the guilt and fear to even put a dent in the negativity, but it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t until he returned to his family home one night, drunk and crying after a fight with Jimin over whether or not they should break up because the older boy didn’t want to permanently ruin his family, that things changed. His parents had been surprised to see him, even more surprised at his distress. He vaguely remembered swaying on the porch, barely able to stay standing as he hiccupped through his tears, “If he leaves me again, I’ll die. I can’t survive it again. We have to fix this, please. The guilt is killing him, and it’s killing us.” His Eomma had stood there in silence, her face impassive even as his Appa held him close, crying against his chest to the feel of warm tears in his hair. He’d woken up the next morning tucked into his childhood bed, still in the clothes from the night before. He'd cleaned up enough to be passable for company, hung over as all hell as he stumbled his way down the stairs only to find Jimin and his Eomma in the living room, sipping tea and talking quietly. They’d gone silent as he appeared at the end of the stairs, his Eomma’s face blank but Jimin had set his tea aside and crossed the room in huge bounds, throwing his arms around the startled boy’s waist.

            “I was so worried when you didn’t come home Tae, I’m sorry! I’m so, so sorry baby bear.” He’d whispered into his chest, sniffling as Taehyung wrapped him in the tightest hug, gathering the smaller boy close with his eyes locked on his Eomma. She’d met his gaze calmly, taking a long drink before lowering her cup with a smile and a wink. He knew then that everything was going to be okay. “Please don’t leave me.” Jimin was shaking in his arms, his voice thick and Taehyung’s heart swelled with love, pulling back enough to gaze into sparkling, wet eyes.

            “That’s never gonna happen Jiminie, you’re stuck with me. Forever, lovely.”

            Jimin’s smile was fragile but his laugh was strong, high and sweet as he pulled Taehyung down to press a chaste kiss to his lips. “Good.”

            “Taehyung-ah? You in there?”

            Back in the present, the peach haired boy’s eyes blinked rapidly as he smiled at the blonde leaning across the island, eyes gentle and face concerned. “Yeah, sorry Jimin-ah. What were you saying?”

            “I was asking you if you wanted something to drink?”

            “And I was telling him to make you get it yourself!”

            “At least Jimin-ah loves me!” Shooting his Eomma a pouty glare, he turned back to the beautiful boy in front of him, reaching his hand out to brush blonde bangs out of his dark eyes. “I’m fine, thank you Chim.” Jimin’s smile was sweet and bashful as he caught Taehyung’s wrist, turning his head to press a kiss to his palm before releasing him.

            “You’re welcome. Love you.”

            “I love you too.” Taehyung’s grin was big and boxy, ignoring the fond eye roll the older Kim sent him as she moved to the stove and stirred a boiling pot.

            “Jimin-ah, could you grab the vegetables we chopped and bring them here, please?”

            “Of course, Eomma.” With one more smile, Jimin turned away to finish helping prepare dinner. Taehyung watched him with love sick eyes, the dopey smile never really leaving his lips even as Eonjin and Jeonggyu came through the front door, his younger brother on him in seconds and Eonjin snagging Yeontan on her way to her room, much to his annoyance.

            The house only got louder and livelier when his Appa made it home, the burly older man putting him in a choke hold, tickling until he begged to be let go. “Fine, but only because I know my Eomma will hit me with her cane if I don’t.”

            “What do you—” Taehyung’s question was cut off with a delighted cry, rushing past his Appa to enfold his grandmother into a tight, gentle hug. The older Kim laughed as she hugged him back, Taehyung’s eyes sliding shut as the familiar scent of strawberries and lavender oil washed over him, bringing forth memories of summers on the farm in Daegu and cool festival nights, the sound of chickens clucking and the smell of fresh alfalfa. He couldn’t help the bright smile on his face as he pulled back enough to get a good look at her, eyes travelling the creases of her wrinkles and along her warm eyes, her skin sun darkened and spotted, her smile crooked but beautiful. “Halmeoni.” He breathed with a delighted laugh. “What are you doing here? I thought you weren’t coming until Christmas?”

            “What can I say? I missed my grandson.” She replied with a soft laugh, leaning in and brushing a kiss against his cheek before releasing him. “So handsome, Taehyung-ah. More handsome every time I see you.”

            He could feel his cheeks pinking as he embraced his grandpa. “Your eyesight must be going Halmeoni, I think I’ve gotten uglier since you last saw me!”

            His grandfather’s guffaw was loud and boisterous as he leaned back, clapping Taehyung’s shoulders fondly. “Be careful there boy, you’re Halmeoni’s aim has gotten much better.” Taehyung simply laughed, turning to see his grandma releasing his siblings and reaching for Jimin with a fond smile.

            “Come here Jimin-ah, dear. Is he always this ornery?” Her tone was teasing as she folded the blonde into a hug, Jimin’s cheeks rosy as he glanced up to meet Taehyung’s gaze with a mischievous grin.

            “Always.”

            “You poor boy. Bless your patient heart.” She cooed playfully, laughing at Taehyung’s pout as he walked over and wrapped his arms around the shorter boy, plastering himself to Jimin’s back.

            “No. Jiminie, I’m vetoing this.”

            “What are you talking about Tae?” Jimin asked innocently, turning his wide eyes to the peach haired boy. Taehyung’s pout deepened as he rested his weight harder along the blonde’s shoulders, Jimin’s knees wobbling as he adjusted.

            “You can be everyone’s favorite. Everyone’s except Halmeoni’s. I called dibs.”

            Jimin’s laughter was bright as he shook with it, falling back against Taehyung’s broad chest; the peach haired boy had already prepared for it, holding Jimin gently against him with a fond smile. “I guess that’s fair. Sorry Halmeoni.” Jimin bowed playfully to the older woman, eyes sparkling with mirth.

            “It’s the cross we bear, dear.” His grandmother sighed, pinching Jimin’s cheek before patting Taehyung’s. “My silly boys.” Taehyung released Jimin into his grandfather’s embrace, following the older Kim into the kitchen to set the table.

            Dinner was a happy affair, and staring across the table at Jimin, Taehyung felt at home. The blonde was between Eonjin and Jeonggyu, smiling down at the younger boy as he told him a story about school. His younger siblings had taken a shine to Jimin years ago; Eonjin had admired his makeup techniques, begging the older boy to teach her and Jimin had been more than happy to. Jeonggyu had been impressed with his skills on the field when the older boy had volunteered to coach one of his practices and help the team out when they lost their coach. It didn’t take much effort on Taehyung’s part to get them on Jimin’s side, despite his Eomma at the time—just about everyone loved Jimin (his Appa had been the most open to the blonde back in the day, the older man not asking questions and simply accepting Jimin without a word about it). The atmosphere was warm, and Taehyung was so fond, his smile a little dopey as he watched his siblings interacting with the love of his life; he loved the way Jeonggyu leaned into the blonde as he spoke, Jimin’s eyes tender as he listened attentively. The way Eonjin stared at him like he held the answers to all her questions, eyes wide and trusting.

            He was in love.

            “Tell me, how are things with you two? How’s life post-graduation?” His grandmother’s sweet voice cut into his daydreaming, startling him enough that he nearly knocked over a bowl and the small cup holding the reusable chopsticks; Jimin’s hands shot out to catch both items before they spilled, carefully righting them and sending Taehyung a teasing smile (even after all these years the older boy was always prepared for Taehyung’s innate clumsiness). “Careful dear!”

            “Thanks, Jiminie.” He shot the blonde a wink before turning back to his grandma. “Things are good, Halmeoni. I’ve sold quite a few pieces lately, and I got a full time position as a curator at the Seoul National Fine Arts Museum. It requires a little travelling, which isn’t ideal, but I get to take part in picking pieces for the museum.” Taehyung’s smile was bashful as the table applauded, rolling his eyes. “It’s a hard job, but rewarding. I like it.”

            “That’s wonderful Taehyung-ah.” His grandmother turned to Jimin with an eyebrow raised. “And you, my Jimin-ah?”

            Jimin’s smile was shy, his small hand running through blonde locks nervously. “Well, I’m dancing full time with Korea National Ballet.” His cheeks were a pretty pink as the table hooted in glee. “I’m. . . new, so they have me in group variations for the upcoming ballet, but I’m hoping by this time next year I’ll be dancing lead.”

            “He’s certainly more then good enough to.” His Eomma nodded, her chin tilted up smugly as Jimin preened under the praise. “You’ll have to come see him dance.”

            “I would love that.”

            “Jiminie, that’s not all you’re doing. Tell them the rest.” Taehyung encouraged, eyes warm as Jimin bit his lip. “Come on, babe.”

            “I. . . double majored. In Contemporary Dance and Psychology. I’m also a child therapist, it’s mostly a side job.” At another encouraging look from the peach haired boy, Jimin blew out a sigh. “I’m treating children with selective mutism. Using my experiences to help them get better, or at least help their families understand their condition. Many people don’t understand how much it helps to have a third party just listen to what you have to say, and I want to be that helping hand.”

            “He’s doing a fantastic job, his client list is growing every day! We’re actually looking at properties with an extra office space separated from the living area, so he can take clients at home instead of having to visit the family’s homes.” Taehyung gushed excitedly, hands waving animatedly in the air. “Then I’ll know he’s safe, and he can adjust his hours to make life a little less busy! It’s a win-win.”

            “Of course, we’re also looking for a studio space for Tae. His name is really getting out there, his work is in high demand. You got what, six commissions in the last two months Taetae?” Jimin asked proudly, his smile growing when Taehyung nodded. “Tae’s so talented, I’m happy the world is finally starting to recognize that.”

            His family looked amused as they gushed about each other, warm smiles filling the room with sunshine. His grandmother’s head shook slightly as she laughed. “I guess I don’t have to ask how your relationship is doing.”

            Taehyung chuckled, reaching his hand out across the table to meet Jimin’s, curling his thin fingers around Jimin’s with a soft, private smile. Jimin’s smile was just as gentle, eyes molten. “It’s never been better.” His lips quirked up as he lifted his water glass, taking a hearty sip.

            “So, when’s the wedding?”

            His reaction was a little dramatic, even he could admit it—he choked, hand slamming down on the table as the other flew to his chest. He felt someone pounding on his back as he coughed hard, face beet red with lack of air (and embarrassment), his breath wheezing as he inhaled only to cough again. It took a few minutes to get it under control, Taehyung taking the offered water glass and taking a careful sip before clearing his throat and wiping his mouth before chancing a hesitant look up. The whole table was staring at him in shock, his Appa’s hand still rubbing his back in soothing circles. Taehyung took a slow deep breath before smiling weakly. “I’m okay now, sorry. You just caught me off guard.”

            His Halmeoni’s eyebrow was raised. “So I did.”

            “Um, no wedding.” He finally replied after a long silence, gaze locked on the ceiling as he tried to control his blush, hand moving to rub over his neck nervously. “I mean, not no wedding like, no wedding ever. That’s not what I’m saying. Or implying. I’m not implying anything in this conversation, it’s not like I’m saying no to marriage, or yes even, definitely not—wait, that came out wrong, what I’m trying to say is—”

            “Tae.” Jimin cut in, silencing the peach haired boy. He ignored the younger boy’s smile of thanks to shrug lightly at the table. “What Tae is saying is we haven’t talked about it.”

            “I see. I must say, I’m surprised.” The subject dropped after that, but Taehyung couldn’t help but notice a lingering awkwardness in the air, in the way Jimin wouldn’t seem to meet his eyes or the way his sister kept glaring at him. It was late as they gathered Yeontan up and back into his cage, hugs and kisses all around as they headed for the door.

            “Thank you for dinner.” Jimin smiled at the Kims as Taehyung met him at the door, carefully taking Tannie’s cage from the peach haired boy.

            “It was our pleasure, Jimin-ah.”

            Taehyung’s hand came to gently rest on Jimin’s lower back. “We’ll see you all at dinner on Monday, right? Our treat.”

            His Halmeoni smiled and nodded from her seat on the couch. “We wouldn’t miss it. Jimin-ah promised to dance for me.”

            “Great. Ready to go, Chim?” He turned to the blonde with a soft smile, leaning down to press a kiss to his soft cheek.

            Jimin turned his head minutely, just enough to make Taehyung miss as he nodded and headed towards the door without a backward glance. “Goodnight.”

            Taehyung stared after him in shock for a moment before glancing to his grandmother, who simply laughed. “Good luck, Tae-yah.”

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

            “Jimin-ah, are you mad at me?” Taehyung asked pitifully as he threw himself across the bed on his stomach, grabby hands reaching towards where Jimin sat against the headboard. The blonde’s eyes were fixed on the book in his hands, glasses perched on his nose and ankles lightly crossed over the covers as he slowly turned the page.

            “No Taehyungie. Why would I be?”

            “I don’t know.” He puffed his cheeks out in a pout as he scrambled onto his hands and knees, crawling across the bed towards the blonde. He gently plucked the book from the older boy’s hands and set it on his nightstand, before moving to straddle his thighs. Jimin’s smile was small, his eyebrows raised in question as Taehyung seated himself in his lap with a coy smile, long tapered fingers delicately removing his glasses and setting those aside too. His hands returned to Jimin’s face, gently tracing his features for a moment before gliding through shower dampened hair, tilting his head as Taehyung leaned down to press a long, slow kiss to his lips.

            Their lips moved together in a slow dance, Taehyung sighing softly against that plush mouth before taking the bottom one between his teeth and biting down on it teasingly. Jimin’s breath caught and Taehyung used the opportunity to deepen the kiss, sliding his tongue into Jimin’s sweet mouth. Jimin’s tongue tangled with his, stroking along the bottom of his and chasing it back to Taehyung’s mouth. Taehyung moaned softly and tilted his head to open his mouth further, hips rolling in a slow grind against Jimin’s as they kissed.

            Jimin pulled back, Taehyung panting and chasing after his mouth. “Tae baby, what are you doing?”

            “Kissing you, what does it look like?” Taehyung teased, pressing hot, openmouthed kisses along the blonde’s jaw and sucking on that one spot that made Jimin’s moans high and pitchy. “Want you, been too long.”

            “We literally fucked before going to your parents. And twice in the shower this morning.” He sounded exasperated but amused.

            “Too long ago.” Taehyung giggled, nipping playfully at his earlobe before sliding his lips down the column of his throat and rolling his hips again. “Come on, Chim. Make me feel good.” He purred, running his hands down the expanse of the blonde’s chest, hands stopping at the ties to his pajama pants and fumbling with them.

            But Jimin’s hands stopped him, the older boy breathless as he leaned back. “Tae, I’m not really in the mood, love. I’m really tired.” His face was impassive and Taehyung blinked in surprised, body stilling for a moment before sliding to the side off Jimin’s lap.

            “Oh. Of course. Sorry Jiminie.”

            The blonde smiled at him and shook his head. “Don’t be. I’m gonna turn in. But your favorite dildo is in the bathroom where we left it yesterday, maybe that’ll help.” Taehyung nodded wordlessly, leaning in to press a kiss to Jimin’s forehead as he slid off the bed, watching as the blonde pulled up the blankets and slid underneath. “Goodnight Taehyungie.”

            “Night Jiminie, sweet dreams.” Taehyung paused at the door, hand on the light switch as the blonde got comfortable, his back to the door. He frowned. “I love you.”

            “Love you too.” Was Jimin’s quiet reply. He waited for a moment, hoping the blonde would look at him, smile, or say anything that would dispel the sudden unease in his chest. His heart was pounding, hand trembling lightly on the light switch, and he wanted to shout with joy when Jimin shifted to glance at him. “The light, Tae?”

            “Oh shit. Right. Sorry baby.” His heart sunk as he turned off the light, hand on the doorknob. “Door open or closed?”

            “Closed.”

            “Right. Goodnight Jiminie.”

            “Night Tae.”

            He closed the door with a soft sigh and leaned back against the wood. Why did he get the feeling he just fucked up?

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

            “Hyung! Great, you’ve gotta help me!”

            “Well, hello to you too, Taehyung-ah.” Yoongi’s voice was low and raspy, his tone amused as he chuckled. The video feed flickered to life and revealed the older man, his honey brown hair long and flopping backwards in the headband he had shoving the strands out of his eyes. Taehyung grinned and waved as Yoongi sat back in his chair, sunlight filtering in the windows behind him and darkening his image. “LA is great, thanks.”

            “Hi hyung. Good to hear. Help me!”

            Yoongi rolled his eyes and let out a long suffering sigh (he wasn’t fooling anyone; Taehyung could see the twitch to his lips). “What’s wrong Tae?”

            “Hyung, I think Jimin-ah’s gonna break up with me.” The peach haired boy blurted out, hands nervously twisting in front of him on the desk. Yoongi’s eyes widened and the older man sat forward, scanning Taehyung’s face worriedly.

            “What? Why? What happened, Tae?”

            “He’s been. . . distant for the last week and a half. He’s always finding reasons to be out of the house until it’s late and then goes to bed right away. He doesn’t really respond when I talk to him, seeming to tune me out when he even spares the time to sit down and spend time with me. I thought it was just his job, but I saw his work calendar. He hasn’t had a client in days, and his practices haven’t been as long. He seems really distracted and he just. . . hyung, something’s going on. It’s like he’s slipping away from me.” He was horrified to find his lower lip trembling, shaking his head slowly as he clapped a hand over his eyes and tried to steady his breathing. There was rustling on the other end of the feed, Yoongi sighing.

            “When did it start Tae?”

            “The night we came home from dinner with my family. My grandparents showed up. It was really nice. But then at home he just. . . he didn’t want to have sex, hyung.”

            “I didn’t need to know that.”

            “No, listen!” Taehyung insisted, letting his hand fall into his lap. “Hyung, Jiminie always wants to have sex. Like, we do it multiple times a day. And that’s just full intercourse.”

            “God, kill me.”

            “That’s not even counting hand jobs, blow jobs, rim jobs, I could go on, but I think you get it and I’ll spare you the details.”

            “That was you sparing me?” Yoongi sounded weak.

            “Yep.” His smile was quick and fleeting, eyes downcast as he ran a hand tiredly through his hair. “But he hasn’t. . . it’s been a week and a half. We’ve barely even kissed.” His voice was a whisper as he confessed, “I’m scared.”

            “Something must have happened that night at your parents house that you’re just not thinking about. Think Tae. What happened? Walk me through it.”

            He blew out a harsh sigh and sat back, lifting his wine glass to his lips and taking a sip as he thought. “Well, we brought Tannie over. Eomma and Jiminie cooked dinner, and Appa showed up with Halmeoni. We sat down for dinner and caught Halmeoni up on our lives, then left not long after dinner.”

            “What do you mean, you caught your Halmeoni up on your lives?”

            “She asked us about life after graduation and we told her about our jobs, we mentioned that we’re looking for a house that suits both our needs, space wise. I want a studio, Jiminie needs an office, and then—” His breath caught, eyes widening as he set the glass down with a little more force then necessary. “Oh my god. Hyung, she asked when the wedding was and I spazzed out! I choked and did my rambling bit—”

            “Oh god.”

            “—and Jimin-ah interrupted me and told Halmeoni we hadn’t talked about getting married. Halmeoni said she was surprised by that. Then we changed the subject. He wouldn’t look at me after that!”

            “There you go. Feel better?”

            “No! Hyung, I fucked up!” Taehyung fretted, pulling at his hair. “Oh god, what if he thinks I don’t see that for us?”

            Yoongi chuckled. “I’m glad we got past the pathetic, sad part of the evening so I can give you the tough love now.”

            “Wait, what?”

            “Taehyung, you fucking dumbass! Jimin is hurt, not about to break up with you! You really upset him by being a thoughtless moron. How would you feel if he froze when asked about marriage in front of your family? It’s not that hard a question to answer, are you guys getting married or not?”

            “Hyung—”

            “And if not, then what are you even doing? You’ve probably put fear in his heart after that major fuck up. And then you tried. . . damn Tae, of course he didn’t want to have sex! He was mad. And hurt. And probably sad. And you were oblivious! He’s probably been hurting this whole time.”

            “Hyung, I get it!” Taehyung finally cut in, breath hitching as a tear rolled down his cheek. “Fuck, I get it.”

            Yoongi was smiling then. “Good. Now what are you gonna do about it?”

            Taehyung wiped his eyes and sighed. “I’m gonna talk to him.”

            “Good boy.”

            “Thanks, hyung.” His smile was watery but genuine, heart warm as Yoongi shot him a gummy smile that was only slightly fuzzy in the video feed. “I miss you and Hobi-hyung.”

            “Miss you too, kid.”

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

            “You’re serious?” Seokjin’s slim eyebrows pushed up into his forehead in shock, eyeing the nervous boy in front of him. His sunglasses were resting on top of his perfectly coiffed ebony locks, his lips twisted into a gleeful smirk, and for a moment Taehyung hated (read: was jealous of) how effortlessly pretty he was.

            He nodded, glancing at the store in front of them and peering in at all the glass cases. “Yeah, I am. More serious then I’ve ever been.”

            Seokjin seemed to consider him for a moment before he let out a loud, happy laugh, startling the peach haired boy. “Well then, let’s do this.” He held the glass door open, motioning for Taehyung to go in first. “After you.”

 

*                                  *                                  *

 

            Taehyung stood from the couch, letting Yeontan jump to the floor as the front door opened, Jimin stepping in and quietly closing the door. He was shivering lightly as he peeled off his gloves, scarf, and jacket and Taehyung couldn’t help but smile at his baby marshmallow. The blonde shot him a small smile before dropping to his knees and cooing at Tannie, lifting him and pressing kisses to his head as he stood. “Hi baby, daddy missed you! Yes, he did! Were you a good boy today? Of course you were! Daddy’s good boy!” Jimin laughed as Yeontan licked a stripe across his cheek, rubbing it away with the back of his hand as he gently set the puppy down and breezed by Taehyung with a quick kiss to his cheek. “Hi Tae. I’m gonna go shower and get to bed, early practice and—”

            “Jimin, can we talk?” Taehyung interrupted, stepping forward to catch the blonde by the wrist timidly.

            “Taehyung-ah, I’m really tired and I have—”

            “Please. Please just sit with me for a second, it’s important.” Taehyung pleaded, letting the blonde go in favor of twisting his fingers together anxiously, biting his lip. Jimin studied him for a moment before his impassive look melted into something softer, the blonde nodding and Taehyung sighed with relief. He motioned the older boy to the couch, fresh tea waiting for them on the coffee table; Jimin smiled in thanks, lifting a glass and sipping it as his gaze fell on Taehyung again. Taehyung looked down at his lap, not touching his cup as he contemplated how to phrase what he wanted to say, grateful that Jimin was so patient as he struggled.

            The longer he stayed quiet, the more anxious he got. His heart racing in his chest as his lungs seemed to constrict, his anxiety making him start to shake. Any minute now even patient Jimin would get fed up. He’d leave the room and it’d be days before Taehyung could corner him again and get a second try at clearing the air. And he couldn’t do it, couldn’t handle this freeze out much longer. He missed Jimin, missed his boyfriend’s kisses and sweet smile. He hated this, hated how his mouth seemed glued shut, the air trapped in his throat and his words silenced by his brain. He was getting frustrated, his brows drawing together tightly as he huffed out a breath, shakily rucking his hair back from his eyes and inwardly cursing. Speak. It’s not that hard. Just speak

            A small hand covering his own calmed him immediately, the noise in his head quieting as he glanced up to meet warm, endlessly brown eyes. “It’s just me Taetae, it’s okay. You’re okay.” His thumb brushed over Taehyung’s fingers where he held the larger hand in his own, bringing it up to press a soft kiss to the back of his hand before smiling reassuringly. “It’s just me, love.”

            “I’m sorry.” Taehyung blurted out, Jimin’s eyes widening fractionally at the outburst as he froze. The younger boy pressed on, heart in his throat as the words just flowed out of him. “I’m an idiot. A seriously stupid jerk, and I’m so sorry you have to put up with my thoughtless ass. You’re such a sweet, kind person and I know how hard it is for you to talk about things that upset you. I feel like such a dumbass for only realizing now how much I must have hurt you the other night at my parents, and I just wanted to clarify some things.” Jimin opened his mouth to speak and Taehyung held a hand up, silencing him. “First, I realize how it must have come across, when I reacted so. . . badly. I need you to know that I was just shocked, not disgusted, or however it may have seemed.”

            “Tae, I—“

            “Second,” Taehyung spoke a little louder, his cheeks pinking. “I should have realized something was up and talked to you that night instead of trying to initiate. . . you know.” His cheeks darkened at the amused quirk to Jimin’s lips. “I’m sorry, I know it must have seemed like I don’t care about your feelings, like I’m some stereotypical jerk with how dense I am sometimes. I’m really sorry, Jimin-ah.” He paused for a long moment, swallowing hard as he looked down at his hands, tea forgotten on the coffee table. “I didn’t mean to hurt you, and I don’t blame you for being upset with me. I’d avoid me too if I were you.”

            “Taehyung—“ Jimin tried again, looking frustrated when the peach haired boy interrupted him again.

            “And third, I need you to know that I. . . I do see a future with us. I might have frozen in front of my family because of shock, but please understand that I want to be with you forever. I told you this years ago, but it’s been a long time so please, please listen to me.” Taehyung finally looked up, meeting Jimin’s wide eyes with a smile. He reached forward and took the cup out of the blonde’s hands, setting it on the coffee table before holding those small hands he loves so much again. He was serious, voice low and deep as he continued. “I love you, and for me there’s nobody else but you. You’re it for me, Park Jimin. I can’t imagine spending my life without you in it, beside me. I want us to get married, move into a big house, raise a ton of kids, and grow old together. I want to go to sleep every night holding you, and wake up every morning to your beautiful face. I want an endless supply of moments together. I want to be beside you and watch as your hair starts to grey and your laugh lines deepen, I want to hold your hand forever as we go through life together.” He paused then, swallowing hard as he released one of Jimin’s hands to reach behind the pillow beside him on the couch, pulling the black velvet box from it’s hiding place. Jimin’s eyes were wide with shock, his gaze darting back and forth between Taehyung’s smile and the box as the peach haired boy continued. “I know we haven’t really talked about it before, but I’ve always known you were it for me. I want to call you fiancé, and eventually call you husband. I love you, more then anything in the world. Let’s get married.” He finished with a soft sigh, feeling the weight disappear from his shoulders. His hand were clammy where they gripped Jimin’s hand and the small box, a slight tremor in them that had him shaking. Using his nimble fingers, he flicked the box open, revealing a beautiful gold band inlaid with diamonds, a small amethyst in the very center. It glittered under the light, it’s twisting bands reminiscent of the ring Taehyung had on his middle finger since high school, nearly a matching set. He’d closed his eyes for a moment in relief after he’d finished speaking, his cheeks on fire as he took a steadying breath before opening them again.

            He expected a lot of things, but Jimin looking furious wasn’t one of them.

            The blonde’s eyes were narrowed into angry slits, his lip caught in between his teeth hard enough that the appendage was going white with blood loss. His jaw was locked and his chest was rising and falling rapidly, his head shaking slowly as what looked like angry tears pooled in his eyes. Taehyung’s heart dropped into his stomach as his lips parted in shock, fighting the urge to pull back and put some space between them. “Jimin-ah. . .?”

            The blonde’s head shook fast, trembling now too as he opened his mouth to speak and only a gush of air left his lungs. He seemed to struggle, his gaze going to the ceiling as he fought the tears. Taehyung’s chest tightened in fear as he scooted a bit closer, biting his own lip as he set the ring box down and released Jimin’s hand in favor of brushing his thumbs gently beneath the blonde’s eyes, lips parting in shock when Jimin jolted back out of reach. He stood, hands balled into fists as he shot Taehyung a baleful look before stomping towards the bedroom, the door slamming against the wall with an audible thud as he disappeared into the room.

            The peach haired boy stared after him in shock for a long moment before he sprung off the couch and hurried after him, entering the bedroom to find Jimin on his knees in their closet, rifling through the contents viciously, tossing things to the side in an uncharacteristic show of rage. When his hands latched onto a duffle bag and yanked it out, ripping it open with a show of force, Taehyung’s heart leapt into his throat, a wounded sound leaving his lips as his eyes prickled hotly. He stumbled over to Jimin, hitting his knees as he grabbed at the blonde, trying to still his hands as the first tears fell. “Wait, wait Jimin-ah! Please don’t leave, please baby, I’m begging! I need you, please don’t leave me, let’s talk this out!” His voice was wet with tears, shaking as he spoke around the lump in his throat. Jimin ignored him, ripping a hand from Taehyung’s grip to dig into the bag. “Please baby, please. . . I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, I’ll do anything but please just hold on a second!” He crumpled in on himself, sitting back on his heels and bring his hands up to cover his face. “Please Jiminie, sweetheart, I—“

            “Taehyung-ah.” Jimin interrupted him, his voice wet and frustrated, but Taehyung could hear the fondness within the utterance. “Baby bear, look at me. Please.” It took a few moments for him to calm down enough to comply, his deep breaths shuddery as he finally dropped his hands, cheeks tear stained as he looked up, only for his eyes to widen in shock.

            Jimin was kneeling across from him still, the bag forgotten between them; his lips were twisted up into a smile despite the obvious tears in his eyes and frustration in his features, a small black box in his hands, the material smooth like suede. The blonde eyed him for a moment before opening the box to reveal a ring made of white gold, the band thin and delicate like the rings Taehyung prefers. There was a small tanzanite and opal on the face of the band, and Taehyung’s tears only picked up at the sight of their birthstones surrounded by a cluster of diamonds, sparkly and beautiful. It was perfect, so perfect it took his breath away.

            He met Jimin’s warm gaze again, mouth dropping in a small ‘o’ of surprise, his tears hot on his cheeks. “Jimin-ah. . . what. . .?”

            “Kim Taehyung, you are the most infuriating person I’ve ever met, I swear to god.” Jimin started, the frustration leaking into his voice. “First, you go and tell your family that you don’t want to get married—“

            “I didn’t say that! At least, I didn’t mean it like that!”

            “—and you made me question what the hell we were even doing if you weren’t interested in tying the knot one day.” Jimin continued, ignoring Taehyung’s outburst. “I was so upset and heartbroken, thinking you didn’t see us as forever when you’re the only thing I’ve ever wanted in life. But I talked to Hobi and Namjoonie-hyung, and they assured me that you’re just an idiot. Lovable and my idiot, but an idiot nonetheless. They talked me down, pushing me to continue with my plan.”

            “Plan?”

            “And that leads me to my second reason why you’re the most infuriating person I’ve ever met, weeks of planning, weeks of hard work and setting things up, and you go and ruin it by proposing to me!” Jimin looked exasperated, throwing his free hand up in the air. “It’s just not fair, you’re always the one making the big moves! You’re the one who asked me out first, and you’re the one who initiated sex the first time too! And you said ‘I love you’ first! This was supposed to be my thing, my turn!”

            Taehyung’s eyebrows couldn’t get any higher, mouth waffling for a moment before he could respond. “Actually, you asked me out first, in the back of the car that night we had dinner with your parents before our first date. And you actually initiated sex first, remember? The blow job at Jin-hyung’s?” His lips pressed into a line to hide the budding smile as Jimin rolled his eyes dramatically.

            “Well, you asked me out the second time!”

            “You kissed me first.”

            “You befriended me first!”

            Taehyung opened his mouth to retort before the conversation caught up with him, momentarily breathless. “Wait, you were gonna propose.” It wasn’t a question but Jimin nodded, his cheeks rosy as he pushed the bag between them aside and sidled closer, his free hand reaching out and intertwining with Taehyung’s. The peach haired boy stared at them for a moment before his eyes drifted back to the beautiful ring, glinting in the light. His breath caught on a sob as he looked up, meeting dark, warm eyes. “Is that why you’ve been so distracted lately? So distant?”

            Jimin nodded sheepishly. “I was. . . Afraid of saying too much for once.” He wasn’t prepared for the punch to his shoulder Taehyung aimed at him, huffing out a cry of pain. “Ow, what the hell?”

            “You jackass! I thought you were breaking up with me!”

            The blonde’s face paled and he set the ring aside to cup Taehyung’s cheeks gently, wiping his eyes with his small thumbs. “Oh baby, no! No, no, no, Taetae, never! I’m so sorry baby bear!” Taehyung breath left him on another sob, this one relieved as he grasped Jimin’s wrists to hold his palms against his face, biting his bottom lip. His eyes fell shut as Jimin leaned forward, peppering soft kisses all over his face, his jaw, his neck, until he pressed a deep one to his lips. His fingers traced the characters for ‘love you’ across his cheeks and down his neck, the touch warm and familiar. “I didn’t mean to scare you, love.”

            “I just. . . after that night at my parents you seemed so distant, and we barely kissed! It seemed like you didn’t. . . want me anymore.” He stuttered through the last words, cheeks bright red, even as Jimin made an alarmed noise. “I thought maybe I fucked things up, fucked us up.”

            “Oh Taehyungie, no.” Jimin shook his head for a moment before resting their foreheads together, wiping Taehyung’s tears again. “Please don’t cry love, please calm down. No way in the world could you fuck things up between us, okay? You’re stuck with me.” The blonde stood, pulling Taehyung up and into his arms, the peach haired boys arms winding around his neck tight as he buried his face against his warm skin. They stood like that for a long few moments, swaying slightly as they just reveled in each other’s embrace, Taehyung sighing softly as he nuzzled closer and pressed a kiss to Jimin’s throat, smiling at the soft sound the blonde let out.

            “I love you, Jiminie.”

            Jimin pulled back enough to cup his face again, his smile bright as he leaned in to kiss Taehyung softly, their lips moving together in a slow dance. He deepened the kiss, his tongue sliding into Taehyung’s mouth, the peach haired boy groaning at the feeling as his hands slipped down to grip Jimin’s slender hips and pull him closer, tightening as Jimin’s tongue worked it’s wicked magic in his mouth. It was only moment later (much to Taehyung’s chagrin) that Jimin pulled back, eyes dancing with mirth as he stooped down to scoop up the ring box. Before he could say a thing, Jimin was sinking down to one knee, presenting the ring to Taehyung with the biggest smile he’d ever seen, his eyes nearly closed with the force of his happiness. “Kim Taehyung, you’re the most infuriating man I’ve ever met. You drive me absolutely crazy and constantly have me spinning in circles confused. I never know what to expect with you, never know what you’ll say or do. . . But I love it. I love you, more then anything in the world, and if I can spend my days chasing after you and your wacky schemes, hold your hand as you cause trouble and light the world up with your smile, I’ll be the happiest man alive. Taehyung, you were my voice when I couldn’t speak, you were my reason for fighting through all the bullshit to get better. You make me a better person, and I’d like to think I do the same for you.” Taehyung’s lip was quivering where it hid behind his hands, Jimin taking a breath before smiling sweetly up at the peach haired boy. “I love you baby bear, will you marry me?”

            His sob came from deep within his gut, shaking his whole body on the way up as tears splashed hotly down his cheeks, his chin trembling as he nodded. “Yes. Yes Jiminie, yes!” The words came out raspy and broken, ugly sobbing as Jimin let out a whoop of joy and slid the ring onto his finger, where it fit perfectly. It glimmered against his tan skin, bright and sparkling with promise that had his mouth stretching into an effervescent smile. Jimin was standing quickly, his arms wrapping tight around Taehyung as the peach haired boy embraced him, the couple swaying softly to the sound of their heartbeats as Taehyung cried into Jimin’s neck. He was soaking the older boy’s neckline but he knew the blonde couldn’t care less, Jimin’s lips wide in a smile as he placed kisses all over Taehyung’s bare skin, hands running along his broad back as if to pull him closer, like he wouldn’t be satisfied until their bodies melded together with nothing separating their atoms.

            Then they were kissing, hot, deep, wet kisses that belayed their desperation, hands tearing at clothes and pulling at belts, Taehyung’s thumbs hooking in Jimin’s sweatpants to lower them over the sweet curve of his ass. Jimin groaned against his mouth, hands locking in Taehyung’s hair as the younger boy pushed the sweats down his legs to the floor, quickly stepping out of them just as Taehyung’s hands found purchase and squeezed. Jimin’s hands travelled to his shirt, gripping it tight as he walked backwards towards the bed, pulling Taehyung along with him as he latched onto his neck, sucking deep red and purple stars into his skin. The back of Jimin’s knees hit the bed and he fell, Taehyung following him up the mattress after tearing his shirt off and tossing it to the floor, hands sliding along pale, thick thighs to meet the edge of black boxer briefs. The coil of need grew as he slotted their bodies together, lips finding Jimin’s in a heated kiss as he ground down on Jimin’s thigh, palming him through his boxer briefs until he was letting out soft, shaky moans and rutting against his hand. The air was humid around them, heavy, and Taehyung’s gut was clenching with want when Jimin’s nails raked down his back, the bite against his skin making him shudder.

            Taehyung brought his hand up to run through Jimin’s hair, momentarily distracted by the band now glittering beside Jimin’s head, freezing and staring wide eyed at it. The blonde whined and pressed up against him, only pausing when he saw tears clouding Taehyung’s eyes again, a lilting giggle filling the space between them as the older boy’s hand intertwined with Taehyung’s, bringing them to his lips to press a kiss against the ring. “I love you.” His voice was huskier than normal, a lower octave that had Taehyung’s skin reacting, goosebumps spreading all across his body as he ducked his head down to press a kiss to Jimin’s jaw.

            “I love you too Chim, so much.” He whispered against his skin, unable to hold back the renewed tears that dripped onto Jimin’s cheek. Small thumbs tenderly brushed them away, and Taehyung caught one, pressing a kiss to the inside of his wrist and then his palm, pausing to stare at the bare ring finger. He was off the bed and untangled from Jimin in an instant, racing out towards the living room despite the older boy’s protests, gently pushing Yeontan aside when the pup chased him yapping excitedly. It only took a moment before he was bounding into the room again, bouncing onto the bed and crawling up between Jimin’s thighs with a bright, boxy grin as he sniffled. Jimin eyed him warmly, a smile dancing on his lips as Taehyung held up his velvet box, the ring sparkling in the low light. “Jimin, marry me.” The words rushed out, hands shaking as he held the box out in offering. “I don’t have any pretty words, but this: I love you, so much. You’re it for me. Marry me.”

            “Is that a question or a demand?” Jimin giggled as he sat up, extending his hand and wiggled the fingers playfully. Taehyung laughed as he pulled the ring from the box and tossed it to the side carelessly, sliding the ring onto his finger. He couldn’t help but stare at it for a long moment, the swooping in his stomach back as a molten, bubbly feeling filled his chest, the sensation reminding him of cresting a roller coaster, staring down at the drop that you craved more then anything. In that one moment, Taehyung could picture it all. He could see them on that beach again, Jimin in a suit and himself with flowers in his hair, their friends surrounding them. He could picture them moving into the perfect house, working their jobs and paying the mortgage, but happy because they were together. He could see little feet, baby bottles, and cribs; Christmases with their families and vacations spent together. He could see Jimin older, more life worn, but still just as beautiful, his wrinkled hand in Taehyung’s. He could see their whole lives stretching out in front of him, long and beautiful and messy, but always so damn perfect as long as he had the boy sitting in front of him. Because this boy, Park Jimin, was everything he’d ever wanted and the only person he could ever need.

            Jimin seemed to sense the change in mood, his voice soft and golden as he spoke again, “Yes Taehyung-ah. Always yes.”

            “I’m so glad you walked into that classroom all those years ago, so glad that you let me in.” Taehyung’s voice was hoarse with tears. “I’m so glad you found your way back to me.”

            “And I’m glad you let me find you, time and time again. That you loved me despite my mistakes.” Jimin’s hands were soft on his cheeks, their foreheads pressing together as they gazed into each other’s eyes. “That we were able to fall back together after falling apart.”

            “You know why it was so easy?”

            “Why?”

            “Because you’re you, Jimin-ah. And I will always know the sound of your heart.” And he leaned in, sealing it with a sweet kiss.

 

THE END

(Finally.)