Subject: He’s Out of His Ever Lovin’ Mind—Time for a Wake Up Call
Dear Nev & Max,
My name is Min Yoongi and I’m writing in to you from Daegu on behalf of my crazy friend and neighbor, Kim Taehyung. Taehyung is a weirdo, has been a weirdo for years, but I’ve never thought he was legitimately crazy until now.
He’s been talking to someone online for the last eight months, a Park Jimin in Seoul, that he’s never met in real life. Apparently, he’s a dancer with a big Instagram following, and my nutty best friend thinks they’re in love and going to buy a farm, get married, adopt seventy five dogs and a horde of children (He’s delusional, it’s almost adorable how pathetic it is). They text all the time and they’ve spoken on the phone a few times but come on. Why haven’t they met yet?
I was already suspicious considering his name is one of the most common names in Korea, but when he told me he’d never facetimed, skyped, or done any other form of video chat with Jimin, I had to put my foot down. Park Jimin is not real, or if he is, he’s definitely not the model-esque guy in the pictures I’ve seen. Taehyung though, like the lovesick idiot he is, refuses to listen to reason from me and Seokjin-hyung, stubbornly refusing to believe that ‘the love of his life’ isn’t real. So hopefully, he’ll listen to you guys. I hate to be the one to do this, but he needs to stop wasting his time and move on.
Please come help me knock some sense into him, he desperately needs a reality check.
* * *
[You’re ridiculously cute, Kim Taehyung. I’m so lucky to have you in my life. Hope your day is great, talk to you after dance, okay? <3]
Taehyung couldn’t help the goofy grin that spread across his face as he read the message three times, heart beating faster as he typed back, tongue poking between his teeth in concentration. He’d almost finished composing the message when a call lit up his screen, and he pouted at it before accepting the call with a long suffering sigh. “Hyung, you’re a cock block.”
“What? Ew. Gross, thanks for ruining my appetite for the next five years.” Yoongi sounded disgusted beyond belief and Taehyung had to laugh out loud, his baritone rich and deep.
“You’re welcome.” He replied cheekily before returning to whining, his pout evident in his voice. “What do you want? I was texting Jiminie and I’d really like to get back to it.”
“Meet me at your house in ten minutes. I’ll be on the deck near the fields.” The line went dead before he could respond and Taehyung gaped at the device in dramatic shock, despite Yoongi not being around to witness it.
“Well fuck a duck.” He said out loud wonderingly, ignoring the scandalized look he got from the young mother at the next table as she covered her child’s ears, standing up and gathering his things back into his messenger bag. It was early afternoon and he’d finished his chores on the farm quickly that morning, he’d been looking forward to a little down time. The coffeeshop he’d found himself in was quiet, the smell of brewed coffee and sugary pastries tantalizing to the senses as soft music filtered down around them. He mourned the loss of his afternoon ‘me time’ and took his order to go, slipping his phone in his pocket as he headed towards the doors. The owner stopped him on his way out and handed him a box of freshly baked strawberry muffins, the box warm.
“Taehyung-ah, take these.” The owner was an elderly woman, her back hunched but her smile warm and fond.
“Are you sure Ajumma?” He asked, though he was staring down at the box with delight. They smelled amazing, a sweet, fruity aroma that had Taehyung almost drooling with want. The elderly woman laughed softly, patting his arm as she nodded.
“Of course, they’re your favorite, aren’t they? I put extra in, make sure you share with your friends. Tell your grandparents hello for me.” She waved off his bows and thanks, sending him out the door with a smile and a laugh.
Taehyung whistled cheerfully as he headed over to the bike racks, twirling his combination in to unlock his old green bike. He carefully placed the box of muffins in the basket on the back of the bike (his friends had teased him mercilessly for it, but when it was time to make deliveries or pick up groceries, who was laughing now?) before hopping on and setting off on a steady pace towards his house. It was warm out, summer fast approaching Daegu and Taehyung enjoyed the sun beating down on his already bronzed skin; his tan was already back in full force from spending his mornings tending the strawberry farm and afternoons laying out beside the small pond with a good book.
It wasn’t a very long ride, though he took fifteen minutes just to piss Yoongi off, taking his time to park his bike and enter the old farm house, stopping to brush his dark brown, highlighted hair and pull it back in a red and black checkered headband, exposing his forehead and dramatic eye brows. He switched into a red tank top since he was meeting Yoongi outside, leaving his ripped jeans on before he moseyed his way back to the kitchen to grab the muffins. The trek across the farm to the small observation deck was quick, and he saw Yoongi standing by the stairs looking irritated. He couldn’t help but snicker to himself as he waved.
“You’re late. I said ten minutes, idiot.”
Taehyung pretended to be offended, stopping for a moment and placing his free hand against his chest indignantly. “It’s not my fault! Traffic was terrible!”
“You ride a bike!”
“Lots of pedestrians today. Plus, there was this line of ants crossing the sidewalk in town, and they were in no hurry to let me by.” Taehyung had to control his laughter at the daggers Yoongi glared at him, raising the box in offering. “Apology muffin?”
“Just get up here already. Jesus. You give me headaches.” Yoongi looked particularly grumpy today, in his black t-shirt, black jeans, and sour expression. It didn’t seem to match the happy mint green of his hair, and Taehyung mentally reminded himself to tell Yoongi’s boyfriend Hoseok that he very much approved. He took the stairs two at a time, the joke on his lips dying as he took notice of the other people milling around behind Yoongi. They looked strangely familiar, but Taehyung couldn’t place from where.
The first stranger was a tall man with bronze skin and close cut black hair, his face clean shaven and his smile bright. His hands were in the pockets of his khaki pants, a black t-shirt with a handstitched rainbow over his heart, and a pair of vans; Taehyung took note of the nice watch on his wrist as he glanced over at the other stranger. This man was shorter and broader than the first, his hair an interested mix of white and grey that had to be natural, the lower half of his face darkened by a peppered five o’clock shadow; he was dressed in a simple button down and jeans, a camera held in his hands and pointed at Taehyung. He eyed it warily and the first man stepped forward, jutting a hand out. “Hello, you must be Taehyung?”
“Yeah, that’s me.” He replied slowly, shaking the proffered hand, glancing around and noting other people holding cameras and various other sound and recording materials; the deck was silent even though it was fuller than it had ever been, and Taehyung felt a bit of heat rise in his cheeks as he turned to look at Yoongi. “Hyung, what’s going on?” Yoongi wouldn’t look at him and Taehyung frowned, glancing back to the men in front of him. “Who are you? What’s all this?”
“I’m Nev Schulman.” The dark haired man replied quickly, his smile charming.
“And I’m Max Joseph.” The shorter man reached out to shake Taehyung’s hand too, shifting the weight of the camera to his left hand; Taehyung eyed it with trepidation.
“We’re hosts of a TV Show, Catfish. Have you heard of it?” Nev asked and Taehyung gasped, startling the taller man into silence. The brunet turned quickly to punch Yoongi in the arm, dodging when the mint haired boy cried out and lashed out in retaliation. Yoongi gave him a look, his brow furrowed as he glared.
“Ouch, what the fuck?”
“Hyung! You did not email Catfish about me and Jimin! No way. This is a joke, right?” When Yoongi didn’t reply, Taehyung punched him again, ignoring the slap he got in response. “What the hell! You bitch!”
“What else am I supposed to do? You weren’t listening to reason! Maybe they’ll get through to you!”
“Min Yoongi, I am sulking. Don’t try and talk to me for at least an hour.” Taehyung huffed as he crossed his arms, glancing moodily to the side as Yoongi rolled his eyes.
“Yeah, yeah. I know the drill.”
Nev seemed unsure of how to respond to that, glancing over at an amused Max before finally speaking into the silence. “So, I take it you weren’t aware your friend contacted us?”
“Nope” Taehyung popped the ‘p’, walking over to the small deck table and chairs to set the muffins down, keeping his eyes on the box as he fumbled with the lid. “There’s really no reason for him to contact you, so I’m not sure why you’re here.”
“Taehyung—” Yoongi started but the younger boy held up a hand petulantly.
“Well, he told us about your friend online, Jimin?” Max tried as they all gathered around the table, Max and Nev sitting across from Yoongi and Taehyung, the camera placed on the tabletop pointed at the Daegu natives. “Can you tell us more about him?”
Taehyung picked up a muffin and tore into it viciously, glaring at the tabletop as he chewed the entirely too large bite. He didn’t reply for a few moments as he ate, expression brooding as he swallowed and finally looked up. “Are we really doing this? Like, seriously?”
“They want to help.” Yoongi covered Taehyung’s mouth before the words ‘one hour’ could leave it again, a smile tugging at the edges of his lips. “So just talk. God knows you ramble on and on about him on a daily basis without prompting. You should be delighted anyone is actually interested for a change.” Taehyung pouted at him, sticking his lower lip out far enough to have the mint haired boy rolling his eyes.
“Tell us about him.” Nev encouraged with a bright smile.
Taehyung sighed but he couldn’t help the smile that spread across his face as he thought of the other boy, the grin big and boxy. “He’s. . . amazing, honestly. I’ve never met anyone like him, he’s just. . . pure good. He’s kind, intelligent, caring, funny without trying to be. . . He’s a fantastic dancer too, the videos he sends me are incredible. We never run out of things to talk about, we stay up late all the time just talking about anything and everything. He probably knows just about everything about me, the good, the bad, the ugly. And he likes me anyway.” Taehyung shrugged helplessly, even as he felt his cheeks heat up.
Nev was nodding along with him, smiling slightly. “It sounds like you really like him. Would you say you’re in love with him? Do you guys say, ‘I love you’?”
Taehyung ignored Yoongi’s stare and scratched at his nose anxiously, glancing between Nev and Max. “Well. . . I mean. No, we haven’t said that explicitly.” He paused before huffing out a sigh. “And I think so, I think what I feel is love but. . . I want to meet him before I say it out loud and put it out there, you know?”
“That’s understandable.” Max replied agreeably. “Why don’t you tell us how it all started, how you met Jimin?”
“I’m really into art and music, though Yoongi-hyung is more the musician then me. I just sing a bit; my real niche is photography and painting. So, I joined a couple of artsy groups on Facebook where you can share your art and others can critique it. One day I had a private message from Jimin, who was in one of the groups for all art types including dance, and he told me he thought I was talented. We started talking and we had this instant connection. Pretty soon we weren’t just talking art and dance but sharing personal details and stories. Eventually we traded numbers and started texting. It was just so easy with Jimin, it’s like we’d known each other forever. Pretty soon it got flirty, I mean, how could it not? He’s not only the best person I know, but he’s also ridiculously attractive.”
“He sounds great.” Nev agreed, leaning forward. “Would you consider yourselves to be in a relationship or exclusive?”
“Yeah.” Taehyung replied quickly with certainty. “Jiminie is my boyfriend, and I wouldn’t ever dream of dating anyone else while I’m with him. He feels the same.”
“Or so he says.” Yoongi finally spoke for the first time in a while, his tone dark. “How do you know for sure Tae?”
“I just do. Jimin-ah isn’t like that. He wouldn’t do that to me.” Taehyung gave him look for look before Max quickly interjected.
“Do you guys talk on the phone?”
“Yeah, we have. A couple times.”
“And the voice is male?”
“Of course, it is. Jimin is a guy after all.” Taehyung gave Max a funny look, a smile twitching its way onto his lips.
“I heard one of the more recent phone calls. It sounds like a guy, but the voice doesn’t fit the face in my opinion. I doubt it’s the guy in the photos.” Yoongi added, much to Taehyung’s chagrin.
“I’ve got to see a picture of this guy. Can we see?” Nev asked finally, his tone eager. Taehyung stood and moved to lean against the table beside Nev, scrolling through his phone and finding his photo gallery. Opening the special Jimin folder, he handed the device over with a smile.
“This is him.”
Nev whistled softly as he scrolled through the folder, clicking random pictures. “Wow, you actually have a good number of pictures here, a mix of candid photos and selfies. I’m impressed. He’s a good looking guy.”
“He’s basically an Instagram famous model.” Yoongi’s addition to the conversation was unhelpful in Taehyung’s opinion, as was the eye roll. “He has a ton of followers, and he posts photos and selfies regularly.”
“He’s. . . extremely good looking.” Max admitted, gaze flitting up to meet Nev’s for a moment before turning to Taehyung. “In our experience, that’s not necessarily a good thing. Most of the catfish we’ve caught were hiding behind the faces of models, using the real person’s account to supply their fake account with pictures.”
“I understand that, but this is different. Jimin’s not a liar.” Taehyung’s brows drew together as he frowned.
“Can we see some of the communication between you two?” Nev asked, steering the conversation is a safer direction. Taehyung nodded and navigated the device to his and Jimin’s text thread, flushing slightly as Nev and Max (and Yoongi, the bastard) glanced over them. “Wow, you guys talk a lot.”
“That’s a very healthy text thread. You guys talk every day it looks like.” Max seemed surprised. “Look at some of these, you two are so cute! Look at all the pet names!” There was a soft ding and Taehyung immediately leaned over Nev’s shoulder, the thread scrolling quickly to the bottom to reveal a newly sent picture.
It was a selfie of Jimin in what looked to be a dance studio, a white towel hanging around his neck. His blonde hair was finger combed away from his forehead, his face was flushed from exertion though he was smiling brightly, his eyes scrunched up into happy crescents. His hand was up with his thumb and index finger forming a small heart. Taehyung’s heart skipped a beat at the image, a bright smile lighting up his face as he read the caption.
[When your boyfriend doesn’t reply to your sweet text from earlier and you’re forced to send a terrible selfie as a desperate cry for attention. . . >,<]
[Taetae~ I miss youuuuu]
“That’s. . . kind of adorable.” Nev laughed as he handed the phone back to Taehyung, watching as he quickly saved the newest photo and sent a few quick texts back.
[Sorry Jiminie!!! Your text earlier made me smile, I just got distracted before I could reply. Forgive me~]
[And EXCUSE YOU, what do you meant ‘terrible selfie’? My boyfriend is hot!!]
[I miss you too Chim <3]
“I’m gonna throw up.” Yoongi said, making a face as he sat back in his seat. “That’s sickening.”
“Oh whatever, ‘Yoongles’. You and ‘Seokseok’ are just as bad.” Taehyung stuck his tongue out with a gleeful smile. Yoongi gave him a long look before delicately picking up a strawberry muffin from the box, smiling at Taehyung before turning and chucking it over the deck’s railing. Taehyung stared at him in abject horror, scrabbling to pull the box out of his reach before his grasping hands could grab another. “Oh my god, what the hell? How could you just—I’m sulking, don’t try—”
“—And talk to you for one hour, I know.” Yoongi rolled his eyes but his smile was self-satisfied.
“Two hours now, you smug bastard.”
“Respect your hyung.”
“I’m telling Hobi-hyung you’re being mean to me.”
“Do it. He’ll laugh in your face.”
Max quickly interrupted their bickering, though he looked seconds away from laughing. “So, you said you’ve heard his voice Yoongi?”
The mint haired boy nodded as he ignored Taehyung’s pouting. “Yes, I have. It’s definitely male, but it doesn’t look like it fits the boy in the pictures. It’s a lot higher pitched for a male in his twenties then I would have guessed.”
“Maybe he’s younger than he says he is? Or he’s not the guy in the pictures and he or she have someone else who speaks to Taehyung on the phone.” Nev suggested, looking through the Instagram feed for Jimin that Taehyung had pulled up for him on his phone.
“Well, my voice doesn’t fit me either.” Taehyung argued, the richness of his baritone making the others nod in response, giving him that one. “So, he could be the same.”
“That’s true.” Max said. “So, you guys text all the time and talk on the phone, but no video chatting?”
“No. Jimin’s always busy, he’s never free when I ask him to.” Taehyung replied, his voice a little softer now. “I’ve tried though, I just don’t want to seem. . . pushy.”
“Well, it’s not really pushy after eight months. If you two are as close as you say you are, and he’s who he says he is, then there should be no reason why you haven’t at least video chatted, if not seen each other in person.” Nev shook his head, looking a little miffed. “It’s not like Daegu and Seoul are countries apart; it’s what, like one hundred and fifty miles? Have you tried to meet up?”
“Well. . .” Taehyung hesitated for a moment, biting his lip.
“Tell them, Tae.” Yoongi prompted, the younger boy letting out a long suffering sigh.
“Okay, yeah. We made plans to meet last November; his birthday is near the beginning of October and mine is at the end of December, so we wanted to get together in between those dates and celebrate together. He cancelled last minute.”
“What was his excuse?” Max’s tone was curious.
Taehyung hated knowing Yoongi was rolling his eyes behind him. “His friend got in an accident and he was in the hospital over that weekend taking care of him.”
Max snorted under his breath and exchanged another look with Nev. “Ah. In our experience, that’s typical avoidance. That’s not looking good if I’m honest, Taehyung.”
“I believe Jimin. Why would he lie? What would someone have to gain by catfishing me?” His laugh was self-deprecating, the brunet shaking his head.
Yoongi was frowning as he sat forward. “Tae, come on—”
“Hyung, please.” Taehyung knew his tone was a bit too intense, his blank face making him come across angrier than he was; he was actually more confused than anything now, a trickle of doubt spreading through his mind despite his best efforts to ignore it. “Jimin’s probably just too shy. And he’s busy! You don’t get dancing skills like that without being in the studio twenty four-seven. Plus, on top of that he’s always preparing for new performances and traveling for shows.”
“That could be, we can’t rule anything out yet. We had a lot of digging to do to get to the bottom of this.” Nev agreed, standing. The others followed his lead, the dark haired man turning to Taehyung with an open expression. “Do you want our help Taehyung? I know this was sprung on you and that’s not how we usually do things, but we would like to investigate this with your permission and see about getting you two in the same room. What do you say?”
The brunet bit his lip, arms coming up to cross over his chest lightly, eyes closing as he blocked out everything besides the heat of the sun against his skin. He wanted to meet Jimin more than anything, he’d been dreaming about that day since he realized he and Jimin had a real connection. The urge to kiss, to touch, to hold was overwhelming sometimes, and the distance between them made it not as intense as it could be. But now, presented with a real opportunity to find and see Jimin in real life, to have the chance to hold hands that looked as if they’d be tiny in his, he couldn’t deny the need coursing through him. He’d never been good at not making impulse decisions. With a soft sigh, Taehyung opened his eyes and smiled at Nev and Max, throwing his arm around Yoongi’s neck. “I say yeah, let’s do this.” With a boxy grin, he winked into the nearest camera, throwing up a small finger heart. “Brace yourself Jiminie, I’m comin’ for ya!”
* * *
Dear Nev & Max,
This is Kim Taehyung! Below is the information you asked me for to help with your search. His name is Park Jimin, he’s twenty one years old and living in Seoul. He’s a dancer professionally. Below is his social media, the only odd thing I forgot to mention was he has two Instagram accounts. The first one is his professional one, for dance and such, and the other is his personal account he uses for friends and family only.
Instagram: www.instagram.com/the_parkjimin & www.instagram.com/prkjmn13
Phone Number: 051-555-0613
I’ve also included a handful of the photos he’s sent me over the past few months. Hope that helps. Even though it feels wrong to not say anything, I won’t tell Jimin about you guys being here to help. I’m trusting you.
* * *
[Facebook Direct Message]
To: Kim Namjoon
From: Nev Schulman
This is Nev from MTV’s show Catfish. We’re here in Korea filming an episode and have some questions about one of your friends, Park Jimin. Please give me a call at XXX-555-9018 or message me on here when you have a moment. Thanks!
* * *
Taehyung was a nervous wreck.
Everyone has seen Catfish. He knew how the show works, how Nev and Max operate; he was a big fan of the show and spent many weekend nights watching with his Hyungs. It was always amusing to him, how hopeful the people on it were, how dramatic the reveals always proved to be. He’d spend the night making jokes with Seokjin, laughing with Yoongi, and genuinely feeling bad for the people being catfished. But it was entertainment, he couldn’t help but find it funny when things went awry.
It wasn’t funny anymore.
“Will you sit down? You’re giving me anxiety, which could lead to wrinkles, and if that happens, I will end you for ruining my absolutely stunning face.” Seokjin’s tone was exasperated from where he sat on the couch beside Yoongi as Taehyung paced back and forth in the living room of his grandparent’s farmhouse.
“Your grandma is going to be pissed at you if you wear a line in her new carpet again.” Yoongi added, eyes on his phone as he slumped against the arm of the couch. Taehyung shot them both a hateful look and continued his pacing; Seokjin’s eyes were following him, expression bored. Taehyung was mumbling to himself under his breath, wringing his hands lightly in front of himself.
“What are you even worried about?” The eldest boy wondered aloud. “This is a good thing, right? You need answers.”
“He’s freaking out over Jimin’s reaction to all this.” Yoongi replied before Taehyung had the chance, rolling his eyes. “Jimin’s probably going to find out here in the next few hours, and Tae’s scared he’s going to just disappear to avoid the confrontation.”
Taehyung whipped around, his eyes wide as he stared in horror at the mint haired boy. “You think he’ll just ghost?” The hand wringing got more aggressive as Taehyung’s pacing picked up speed. “I didn’t even think of that, I just thought he’d get mad and maybe yell at me! Not just disappear! Oh god, this was a mistake. I done fucked up, bros. This is it, he’s good as gone. Oh god.”
Sharing a look with Yoongi, the older brunet turned to throw a pillow at Taehyung, the youngest boy unperturbed when it smacked him right in the face. “Calm down, you idiot! Take a breath. Do you really think the Jimin you know would do something like that?
“No. Yes. Fuck, I don’t know anymore! Yoongi-hyung’s gotten in my head!” He whined in response, taking that moment to flop onto the couch across both of their laps, his head landing on Seokjin’s thigh. “I was so sure of everything this morning, but you all are freaking me out! I want to believe he wouldn’t do that.”
“Then believe it until you have a reason not to.” Seokjin shrugged, his hand coming up to affectionately run his fingers lightly through Taehyung’s hair. “What happened to your eternal optimism?”
“It hopped on a plane to ‘Fuck it all’ with a pit stop at ‘I’m a good boy, why does God hate me?’” Taehyung sighed dramatically, throwing an arm over his eyes. He could feel Yoongi taking his free hand and he couldn’t help the small smile that flitted across his face. “Guys, I really like him. Like, he could tell me he wanted to take me out without specifying a date or a sniper, and I’d still show up and take the chance. I’d probably even thank him for it.”
Seokjin whistled lowly under his breath. “Whipped.”
“For Park Jimin? Absolutely. Hand over the ball and chain, I’m ready for my sentence your honor!”
“Well, you’ll know either way soon.” Yoongi finally said. “And I guarantee you any answer is better than no answer at all. You deserve a guy who’ll show up, who wants to try and make things work, more than just texting or the occasional phone call.”
“I know what I deserve. And I know what I want. And I want Jiminie to be the one I deserve.” Taehyung sounded pathetic even to his own ears, face flushing when the older boys cooed at him, Seokjin tugging on his cheeks teasingly. The sound of his phone dinging had Taehyung sitting up fast, scrambling for his phone as he nearly tossed it to the floor in his haste to unlock it.
[At my second rehearsal of the day, ready for it to be over. Meeting the guys tonight to eat my weight in meat, wish you could be here! <3 Doing anything fun tonight?]
Attached was a photo of Jimin laying on his back on a wooden floor, a big mirror in the background. His hair was tousled and he looked tired, though his smile was sweet despite the sultry wink he aimed at the camera. Taehyung felt an answering smile light up his face and he fell back between Seokjin and Yoongi, his head landing on Seokjin’s broad shoulder even as he was practically leaning across Yoongi’s whole body as he was sat almost fully in his lap. He lifted his phone and held up a peace sign with a boxy smile. “Say hi Jiminie!” He waited for the other boys to smile and lean in, taking the selfie before sending it in response.
[Wish I could be there, eat my weight for me too! Hanging with the Hyungs tonight. They are MUCH less fun and patient with me then you are.]
“Hey! I resent that.” Seokjin pouted using his hand to shove Taehyung’s giggling face away from him, the brunet rolling down into an undignified heap onto the floor. Taehyung was saved from responding when his phone notification went off again, repeatedly.
[My god, you look incredible today Tae. I’ve never seen you push your hair back like that, it’s sexy as hell.]
[That forehead. Those eyebrows. That sun kissed skin. Your EYES and SMILE. I think my heart stopped, oh my god. Warn a guy next time, okay?]
[No real person should look that much like a Grecian god. Save some pretty for the rest of us.]
Taehyung could feel the heat coming off his cheeks at the force of his blush, biting his lip lightly as he let the device fall into his lap. Reaching for the pillow Seokjin threw at him earlier, he lifted it to his face and screamed into it; he ignored Seokjin’s little squeak of fright and the sound of what had to be Yoongi startling and dropping his phone.
“Jesus Christ Taehyung! What the hell?” Yoongi complained, ripping the pillow away. “What’s wrong with you?!”
Seokjin muttered something lowly under his breath that sounded a lot like, “What isn’t wrong with him?”
Taehyung’s pout was big and pathetic as he lifted his phone again. “I don’t have time to give you the full list right now hyung, I’m having a crisis. I’m stressed.”
[Ooookay, do you own a mirror, or. . .?]
[Because you’ve got beauty for days. If I didn’t already know I liked guys, you would have been my Gay Awakening.]
[Are you trying to seduce me via my praise kink, Taehyung-ah? Because it’s kind of working. ;) ]
[Anything to get your pants off Chim.]
[Ugh, practice is starting, but we can definitely pick this up later tonight.]
[After I take a long, hot shower.]
[When I’ll be damp and wrapped in a towel.]
[Alone in my room.]
[ ;) ]
[What a mean but arousing statement. Cruel, cruel Jiminie. Leaving me to suffer with that mental image.]
[You know you love it, Taetae. ;* Talk soon~]
“Are you done sexting your Catfish yet?” Yoongi’s voice startled him enough that he nearly threw his phone in surprise, choking on a gasp and descending into a coughing fit as Seokjin’s windshield wiper laugh filled the room. “Because it’s really disturbing to watch you stare at your phone and drool.”
“I’m not drooling!” He might have been drooling.
“You may as well be. Do you need me to get you a big glass of water, Taehyung-ah? Because you look hella thirsty right now.” Seokjin’s tone was smug and amused, and the younger brunet didn’t appreciate it as his cheeks reddened further.
“This is why you’re the mean ‘Seok.” Taehyung stuck his tongue out petulantly at the look of bafflement on Seokjin’s face. “Hoseok-hyung is much nicer to me then you two. He’s my favorite Hyung now.”
“He’ll be so happy to know that he’s your favorite by default. Do you want to tell him, or should I?” Yoongi raised an eyebrow and Taehyung blanched.
“No, thank you.” He replied weakly. SHINee’s ‘Prism’ blared through the room suddenly, making all three of them jump and stare down at Taehyung’s phone. Quickly snagging it, Taehyung answered the device on speakerphone. “Hello?”
“Hi Taehyung, it’s Nev and Max! We have some news we want to share with you, what are you doing right now?”
“I’m at home with Yoongi-hyung and Jin-hyung, we’re just hanging out.”
“Mind if we come by?”
Glancing at the older boys, Taehyung nodded. “Um, sure. Come on by.”
“Cool. We’ll see you in like, twenty minutes or so.”
“Sounds good. See you then.” Taehyung clicked end, taking a deep, steadying breath.
* * *
[Instagram Direct Message]
To: Jeon Jungkook
From: Nev Schulman
My name is Nev, and I’m with MTV’s show Catfish—Maybe you’ve heard of us? Well, Max and I are here in Daegu with Taehyung filming an episode and would like to talk to you about one of your friends, Park Jimin! Please give me a call at XXX-555-9018 or message me on here when you can, I’d really appreciate it.
Nev & Max
[Instagram Direct Message]
To: Nev Schulman
From: Jeon Jungkook
Is this a joke?
[Jeon Jungkook] has blocked you [Nev Schulman]
* * *
Taehyung was a nervous wreck by the time the doorbell rang, sharing a look with his friends as he quickly got up and went to the door. A quick look through the peephole confirmed it was Nev and Max (and their crew and cameras, his brain unhelpfully added), and with a deep breath Taehyung swung the door open and painted on a bright smile. “Welcome! Come on in, please leave your shoes by the door. Otherwise my Grandma might come after all of us with a broom, and trust me, she hits hard.”
“For such an elegant woman, she sure knows how to work a pole.” Seokjin agreed as Taehyung led them into the living room. Seokjin rose gracefully from the couch, and Taehyung had to hide the smirk at the looks on Nev and Max’s faces as they were hit by the older man’s beauty for the first time. He strolled forward and offered his hand, shaking theirs decisively before introducing himself. “I’m Kim Seokjin, hyung to my beloved dongsaengs Taehyung-ah and Yoongi-yah. And yes, before you ask, this face is all natural, and the width of my shoulders is sixty centimeters. It’s a lot to take in, I know. Trying not to be intimidated by my transcendent beauty.” His smile was striking and for a moment the two Americans were struck dumb, Nev swallowing his shock faster than Max to offer him a smile in return.
“Ah, it’s nice to meet you. I’m Nev, and this is Max—”
“I know who you are.” Seokjin interrupted with a soft laugh, motioning towards the dining room. “Shall we sit at the table so you can spill all Jimin’s dirty secrets to our Tae?”
“Sure?” The answer came out more like a question and Taehyung took pity on them, motioning towards a doorway with a smile.
“It’s right this way, sorry about him. He was dropped on his head when he was born, that’s why he’s all beauty and bluster, no brains.” Taehyung winced as he was cuffed in the back of the head, Seokjin shooting him a look as he entered the dining room first.
“Fuck you very much, Taehyung.”
The brunet grinned as he followed the older boy into the room, taking a seat at the head of the table. “I’ll pass, thanks hyung.”
“We didn’t expect to hear from you so soon.” Yoongi spoke quickly, stopping the bickering before it could go any farther. Taehyung pouted lightly at him as the others settled around the table too, Nev pulling out a laptop as he and Max took the seats on either side of the young brunet. He placed it on the table, angled so Taehyung could see it clearly while the other two Daegu natives had to lean over to peer at the screen from Max’s left.
“We found stuff a lot faster than we thought.” Max replied cryptically as he repositioned the camera on the table before settling back in his seat. Nev took that as his cue to continue, pulling up the minimized windows on his computer.
“So, first we ran the photos you sent us.” Nev clicked and dragged one of the photos of Jimin (the cute one from last winter; the blonde was cozied up in a sweater and holding a cup of hot chocolate, his back to a pure white Christmas tree glittering with blue ornaments) into the search engine, a ‘2 Results Found’ message popping up. Taehyung’s brow furrowed as he glanced up to meet Yoongi’s gaze for a moment before looking back towards the screen. “Both results lead to the Instagram pages you sent us, so nothing out of the ordinary really. A few of the other photos didn’t pull up any results, all of them being selfies Jimin sent you.”
“That means they aren’t posted anywhere then, right?” Taehyung’s heart fluttered with hope, a smile breaking out across his face. It disappeared at Max’s noncommittal sound.
“Not necessarily. The search engines aren’t foolproof.”
“Next, we scoured the social media you sent us, looking for anything that looked weird or artificial.” Nev said, pulling up all three pages. “The Facebook page didn’t give us much, it doesn’t look like he uses it anymore really, which is pretty normal nowadays since everyone uses Twitter and Instagram. Now, the first Instagram, the one you said he used for professional purposes, looks legit. Lots of followers, tons of comments, nothing looks faked.”
“We were more concerned with the one you said was for family and friends. It’s not used as often and doesn’t have nearly as many posts as his professional one. The comments are few and far between, though he does seem to interact just as much on both.” Max continued, pointing to a few photos and waited for Nev to click on them before continuing. “He has a lot of pictures posted with these two guys, Jungkook and Namjoon. Do those names mean anything to you?”
Taehyung worried his lip, shaking his head lightly as he looked the photos over. “I’m not sure? He mentions his friends a lot, but I can’t recall any names.” Jimin’s smile was bright in all the pictures, his arms around the two dark haired boys more often than not. He eyed the photo of Jimin kissing the cheek of the boy with a bunny smile, unease curling in his stomach.
Nev nodded in understanding. “Well, we found both of these guys online. This one,” he pointed to the bespectacled boy, “Is Kim Namjoon. He doesn’t have an Instagram, but we found him on Facebook and sent him a private message. I told him we had some questions about Jimin and asked him to give us a call. I haven’t heard anything yet.” Taehyung’s hands were wringing together under the table as he bit his lip nervously. He glanced up at his friends, Yoongi’s brow furrowed too, but Seokjin was too busy staring at the pictures on Namjoon’s page to notice, his mouth slightly agape. Yoongi nudged him and his mouth snapped shut with a click, his cheeks pinking as he swallowed hard.
Max gestured to the other boy in the pictures, the one with the large teeth and bunny smile Jimin was kissing. “Here’s where it gets interesting though—see this kid? Jeon Jungkook. We reached out to him with a similar message to Namjoon’s, asking him to contact us. This is what we got in return.” Nev pulled up the chat window and Taehyung’s eyes widened, distantly hearing Yoongi’s low whistle in the background.
“He. . . blocked you after replying? What does he mean, ‘is this a joke’?” Taehyung was dumbfounded as he tore his gaze from the messages to look at Nev and Max.
“Your guess is as good as ours.” Max shrugged lightly. “Could be he doesn’t want to be dragged into things on TV. Or that he knows something and doesn’t want us to find out what.”
“Alternatively, he could be Jimin behind the screen and is afraid of getting caught. Wouldn’t be the first time a Catfish used a friends’ pictures to pose as them.” Nev added, his frown sympathetic. “You could be talking to Jungkook.”
Taehyung’s stomach lurched at the thought. “God, no. That can’t be it.” He ignored the looks his friends were sending him, taking a slow deep breath. “I. . . need tea.”
“I’ll make it.” Seokjin stood quickly and left the room, the soft sounds of him puttering around the kitchen filling the room. Taehyung chewed on his lip, running a hand through his hair shakily. How bitter it was, he thought, to be in the position he found amusing time and time again.
“How are you doing?” Nev’s voice was soft as he placed a gentle hand on Taehyung’s back, his palm rubbing soothing circles that had the brunet sighing. He couldn’t help the small smile, appreciating the gesture of goodwill for what it was; the older man attempting to incorporate the Korean culture of skinship into the moment.
“I’m confused. I just want to know what’s going on.” Seokjin entered the room then, handing Taehyung a steaming cup of tea and sitting as the other’s declined the offer of drinks. “Please continue.”
Nev nodded, his hand moving back to his computer as he pulled another page up. “We ran the phone number you gave us next, to see who it’s registered under.” He motioned to the screen, eyes dark. “Didn’t you say Jimin was from Seoul?”
“Yeah, that’s what he said.”
Max and Nev shared a look before the shorter man turned back to Taehyung. “The phone is listed under a ‘Park Pilwoo’ from Busan.”
“If he lives in Busan, he’s only about fifty five miles away. Not the one hundred and fifty we thought.” Yoongi’s voice was quiet, Seokjin making a soft sound of agreement as the older boys turned to eye Taehyung warily.
“Busan?” Taehyung’s voice was weak as he sat back in his chair, tea forgotten on the table in front of him. His face was drawn as he slowly shook his head. “He. . . Busan was never mentioned. And who’s Pilwoo?”
“We’re not sure. We couldn’t find anything on social media attached to that name except for a law group with a lawyer by that name. Our best guess is since he’s a young man, he might still be on his parent’s phone plan. Maybe that’s his father’s name?”
“I don’t know. I don’t know his father’s name. I don’t understand.” The brunet shook his head slowly. “Why would he. . . lie about where he lives?” There was a dull roaring in his ears, a tightness in his chest that was making him feel short of breath suddenly. Taehyung stood slowly. “I need a minute; I’ll be right back.” Without another word, the tall boy quickly made his way from the room, heading for the back door and letting himself out into the gardens.
The warm sun was welcome on his face as his quick walk turned into a fast paced jog towards the back of the gardens where the edge of the house’s land met the strawberry farm. It wasn’t until he was hidden from view among the strawberry plants that he finally let himself sink to the ground, hugging his legs to his chest and pressing his forehead to his knees with a long, harsh sigh. His heart was beating rapidly, an echoing thud that had was painful against his rib cage and lungs, his stomach turning sharply as his mind raced a mile a minute. The sweet, heady smell of sun ripened strawberries was overwhelming, the normally calming scent doing nothing to ease his anxiety.
How had he gone from being so sure of Jimin’s trustworthiness this morning to suddenly questioning everything the other boy had ever told him? Why were his friends so sketchy? Who was Jungkook to Jimin? (And why did his stomach burn with jealousy every time he looked at that damn picture?) Why was the number popping up as a Busan area code? Taehyung had so many questions, but there was a large part of him that was scared to hear the answers for fear that he’d learn something he didn’t want to.
His phone vibrated in his pocket and he rested his chin on his knees as he pulled it out, unlocking the screen.
[Hey. . . so my friends got some weird messages. From Nev and Max. As in, Catfish.]
[Wanna tell me what all that is all about?]
Taehyung’s heart lurched and he sucked in a hard breath. “Shit. Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit.”
“Taehyung?” Nev’s voice called, and the brunet’s head whipped up in shock, pupils blown wide. “Are you okay?” The tall man was kneeling beside him, a lone camera man not too far behind him. The brunet weakly held out his phone, hands trembling as Nev took it, scanning the texts before looking up, his expression concerned. “It looks like his friends got to him before we could.”
“Yeah. Fuck. This was a terrible idea.” Taehyung’s breathing hitched in his chest as he buried his face in his hands. “He’s so mad Nev, you have no idea. Jiminie doesn’t get mad often, but when he does. . . he’s a force to be reckoned with.”
“He doesn’t seem mad though, just confused.”
Taehyung’s giggle was a little hysterical as he looked up, a wonky smile on his face. “Oh no, that’s how he gets you. He’s all sunshine and sweetness to draw you in, but before you know it, you’ll be buried six feet under without anyone knowing you’re even missing!”
“That’s. . . a disturbing image.”
“What can I say, I like them spunky.” Taehyung hid his face again. “What do I do?”
“Well, at this point I think our only option is to give him a call and see if he wants to meet. What do you say?” Nev was standing, holding a hand out for the brunet to take, hauling him to his feet.
Taehyung took a deep breath, nodding his head. “Okay.”
“Great! I’ll make the call.”
It was a few moments later that Taehyung found himself back between Nev and Max, eyes on the table as Nev filled the others in. His hands were shaking where they were clutched together in his lap, his leg bouncing with nervous energy as he stayed quiet. He could feel his friend’s gazes on him, burning hot as they silently urged him to look up even as he resolutely ignored them.
“So, I’m going to call him and we’ll see if he’s willing to meet.” Nev finished, lifting his phone from the tabletop.
“I really don’t know what else we can do at this point.” Max agreed, sitting back and crossing his arms, tiny camera still in hand and pointed at Nev.
“Tae, are you ready for this?” Seokjin’s voice was soft as he leaned across the table, his hand reaching out in offering. Taehyung took it gratefully, letting out a deep sigh as he finally looked up with a small nod.
“As ready as I’ll ever be.”
“Are you sure?”
“I need to meet him hyung. I just. . . if this is going to end badly, I want to get it over with and move on.” He worried his lip as Nev started tapping the number in. “I want to know I wasn’t a fool for handing over my heart.”
The older boy smiled, white and brilliant. “Let’s do it then.”
Nev hit the call button, putting the phone on speaker as it rang. Reaching for anything to calm his nerves, Taehyung looked out the window, watching the clouds move through the yellow and pink sky slowly. He tried to focus on the soft way they seemed to float through the sky, weightless and fluffy, instead of the harsh tone of the phone’s ringing cutting through the otherwise silent room. The other’s shifted restlessly as the phone continued to ring, and Taehyung closed his eyes, resigned and waiting for the automated recording to pick up.
So, he was incredibly surprised when a moment later Jimin answered.
“Hello?” The voice was a soft and sweet tenor, tinged with confusion and trepidation. Taehyung’s heart lurched as his eyes flew open, a hand coming up to cover his mouth. It was the same voice as before, he was relieved to discover.
The others shared a look and Max mouthed, “High voice!”
Nev glanced at him once before replying. “Yeah, hi. This is Nev, with MTV’s Catfish! Who am I speaking with?” The line was silent for a long few moments, Taehyung running a nervous hand through his hair as they all waited. Nev gave him a few more moments before he finally spoke again, tone perplexed. “Is this Jimin? Park Jimin?” Taehyung was almost sure he wouldn’t reply, the dead air of the phone making him wonder if the other boy had hung up. “Hello?”
“Yes.” The answer was curt, and Taehyung winced at the tone. “This is Jimin.”
Nev’s eyes had widened but he pressed on, an awkward smile working its way across his face as he meet Taehyung’s gaze. “Well, great. That’s great! So, we’re here in Daegu with a friend of yours that you’ve been speaking to online, Kim Taehyung? Does that name ring any bells for you?”
The huff that came through the line was disbelieving, the speaker crackling. “Of course it does.”
“I have him here with me and Max.”
“Hi Jimin.” Max called, shrugging slightly at the look Nev sent him. “I’m Max, nice to meet you.”
Taehyung cleared his throat, swallowing hard as he leaned in slightly closer to the phone, voice soft. “Hi Jiminie.” Silence followed his hello before they heard movement through the phone, a different voice speaking up in the background too far away to understand. “I—”
“Tae, what’s going on? Why did you write in to Catfish?” Jimin interrupted him, voice tinny through the speaker. “What the hell is going on, is this for real?”
Taehyung’s mouth opened and shut a few times in surprise, glancing to Yoongi and Seokjin as he tried to find the words to reply. “Uh, I, um—”
“Those are valid questions, I’m sure everyone would like some answers.” Nev quickly interjected as Taehyung floundered. “Why don’t we meet up and we can all talk this out? Face to face.”
“I’m not—I don’t know. I’m kind of busy right now.” Jimin sounded frustrated, his words clipped. Yoongi was staring at the table, Seokjin shaking his head slowly beside him. Taehyung felt his face fall as he gaped at the phone, his brows drawing down over his eyes. A cold sort of hurt washed over him, his cheeks pinking with humiliation as the dawning realization of Jimin possibly not wanting to meet him hit him. Taehyung had never been slapped before, but he imagined this is what it would feel like.
Nev made a face at Max before replying. “I want to lay all the cards out on the table. We know you’re in Busan, not Seoul. The train ride is what, less than an hour? We could come to you today or tomorrow, meet you wherever you want. It doesn’t have to be long if you’re really too busy. I know it seems scary, but this guy really likes you and just wants to meet the person he’s formed a connection with over the past few months.” Jimin was silent and Nev sighed, rubbing a hand over his face. “I think you owe it to him to meet him face to face and explain. Taehyung deserves that, at the very least.”
“Don’t talk to me about what Taehyung deserves. Don’t you think I know that?” Jimin’s voice was uncharacteristically harsh. “I’m not an asshole.”
“I’m not saying you are; I apologize if I came across hostile.” Nev immediately back pedaled. “We just want to give you two the opportunity to meet in person. Taehyung wants to meet you; don’t you want to meet him?”
“Of course I do.” The words immediately alleviated a bit of the hurt, but Taehyung still felt embarrassed, head ducked to avoid anybody’s gaze.
“Then can we come to Busan? Can we finally bring you two together?” Nev asked quickly, all their eyes locked on the phone. Taehyung wasn’t breathing, could barely even think as he leaned forward slightly, hands white knuckled against his thighs.
There was more movement on the other end of the line, muted whispers before Jimin was responding. “I don’t. . . I don’t know if it’s a good time—”
“Jiminie, please.” All eyes turned on him in surprised, Taehyung realizing just how desperate his plea sounded as he interrupted the other boy. He picked up the phone, moving it closer to him as his eyes slid shut, angling his body away from the group. “Please.” The word was a whisper.
The soft sigh on the end was resigned. “Okay. I’ll meet you tomorrow.”
Nev was smiling and giving the other boys a thumbs up as he gently took the phone back from the brunet. “Great! We’ll go ahead and buy tickets for tomorrow morning. You have my number now, whenever you decide just text me a time and place and we’ll meet you there. Thank you.”
“See you then.” Was Jimin’s short response before he was hanging up.
“Tae? You okay?” Yoongi asked quietly. The brunet shrugged lightly, sending his Hyungs a small, wavery smile. “What are you thinking?”
“Why was he so hesitant to agree to meet me? He literally said this morning that he wished I was there to go to dinner with him and his friends, but presented with the opportunity to actually meet me and. . . he almost said no. Why?” Taehyung tried to ignore the burning in his eyes, shaking his head lightly. “I don’t get it. And I want answers.”
“You’ll get them tomorrow.” Seokjin leaned forwards into Max’s space so he could place a warm hand over Taehyung’s. “I want to come with you.”
“Me too.” Yoongi added, glancing to Max and Nev. “We’ll get our own tickets since the show doesn’t usually have friends tag along.”
Nev just smiled. “I think we can make an exception this time.”
* * *
Taehyung was a nervous wreck.
He stared at his reflection in the mirror and had the urge to swan dive straight back under the covers and never leave them again (knowing Yoongi would drag him kicking and screaming from the bed anyways was the only thing that kept him from attempting it). There were bags beneath his eyes that told of his restless night, his eyes red rimmed from exhaustion. He didn’t sleep a wink, his mind too busy lying awake and worrying about Jimin to shut his brain down. The blonde hadn’t texted him since the phone call last night, not even his customary goodnight text; Taehyung had been too anxious to reach out first, afraid of the backlash of his trickery and the possible humiliation of Jimin’s silence. Not reaching out and having no contact was better than being ignored, the burn of embarrassment not as intense.
“Taehyung-ah?” Seokjin’s voice was a near whisper through the wood, a light knock on the door accompanying it. “Are you awake?”
“Since yesterday? Yeah.” Taehyung replied, throwing himself back onto the mattress and pulling his quilt over his head just as the door opened. He heard the sound of soft footsteps against carpet as Seokjin crossed the room, the bed depressing beside his hip as the older man took a seat.
“Not even for a second.”
“Excited?” At the silence, Seokjin sighed, shifting where he sat. “Scared?” Eyes burning, Taehyung nodded. He tried to speak but there was a thick lump in his throat constricting his voice, despite how many times he tried to swallow it down. He bit his lips and closed his eyes, warm, wet paths running their way down into his hairline. He could feel himself trembling under the blanket, and Seokjin sighed softly again; Taehyung wasn’t surprised when the other man shifted to lay beside him, throwing a comforting arm around the younger boy’s chest over the top of the blanket. Taehyung bit back a sob, turning to face Seokjin and press his face against his chest, shoulders shaking. “I know, Tae-yah. I know. It’s okay.”
Taehyung laid with him there for a good ten minutes, seeking comfort in his older friend that Seokjin was more than happy to provide. Finally, after what felt like eons, he sat up, letting the blanket fall as he turned his face away, discreetly wiping his face with the corner of his sheets. Seokjin stood and stretched, politely averting his eyes while the younger boy erased the traces of tears from his face. Taking a shuddery breath, Taehyung finally looked at the older boy, a small and somewhat sheepish smile on his face. “Thanks, hyung.”
“Don’t mention it. Like, seriously. Don’t.” The brunet made a face at the younger boy, heading towards the door. “You should get dressed, we leave in an hour for the train station.”
“Okay.” He replied quietly, watching as the older boy shut the door with a click, before rucking a hand through his hair tiredly and getting up from the bed. He spent longer then was necessary in the shower, the burning hot water chasing away some of the lingering chill in his body, limbs aching from exhaustion and stress. He hurried through his bathroom routine, moisturizing his face and styling his hair in a red headband again, hoping the natural dramatic arch to his full eyebrows would steering attention away from the bags under his eyes. He pulled on a pair of tight blue jeans, stuffing the ends into his dark brown work boots; he went with a simple black t-shirt, sliding a few thin rings onto his fingers. He pushed some studs through his ear, allowing himself one sparkly dangling chain in his right bottom piercing before deciding he looked decent enough. Phone and wallet pocketed, he sprayed some cologne on before heading into the living room. Yoongi was standing in the kitchen, speaking lowly with Seokjin when he walked in. They went silent after a glance at him. “Morning.”
“Morning Tae.” Yoongi’s voice was raspy from sleep, his eyes tired as he sipped at his coffee. “Hot chocolate on the counter for you.”
“Thanks.” He couldn’t help but grin despite his mood as he lifted the mug, whipped cream piled high and chocolate sprinkles adorning it, cinnamon dusted along the top. “This is so cute, I’m almost afraid to drink it. Did you make it yourself, hyung?”
The mint haired boy seemed to bristle, his cheeks warming as he scoffed and ignored the question. “Hurry up, we’re meeting the Catfish squad at the station and I don’t want to miss our train.” Yoongi grumbled, finishing his coffee before placing the mug in the sink and heading out towards the front door. Taehyung grinned at Seokjin, the older man rolling his eyes.
Taehyung laughed and was about to reply when his phone notification went off. Hesitating for only a moment, he dug the phone out, swiping the lock screen open with trepidation.
[Are you. . . dressing up? Or dressing casual?]
Taehyung’s heart was in his throat as he slowly set the mug down, ignoring Yoongi’s impatient face as the other boy poked his head back in through the door. His fingers were shaking slightly as he replied.
[Definitely casual - t-shirt and jeans. Boots. Nothing fancy.]
“What’s that look on your face for?” Yoongi questioned, but with Jimin texting him back almost immediately, Taehyung chanced ignoring him for once.
[Didn’t want to show up over OR under dressed.]
[Whatever you choose to wear will be perfect Jiminie. No stress, okay?]
Taking a deep breath, he slipped the phone back in his pocket and smiled at the other two staring at him, throwing up a thumbs up. Time to take his own advice. “Alright. Let’s do this.”
* * *
The train station had been packed when they arrived, thankful they didn’t have any baggage to check since their ride would be short. Luckily, the Catfish team had arrived before them, securing a quieter corner for a quick rendezvous before boarding the train. Nev was clearly a morning person, all sunshine and cheer, whereas Max looked like he’d just fallen out of bed, grumpily accepting his friend’s antics (much to Yoongi’s delight). Sitting in the passenger car, gaze directed out the window watching the city and scenery pass by, Taehyung tried to ignore his own reflection; he looked like hell from his sleepless night, face paler than normal and his hair clean but limp. Stress made the weight on his shoulders intensify, his fingers twitching lightly in his lap. He wished for a moment that he had a sketch pad and pencil, the anxiety welling up and demanding to come out as art, creativity bleeding from his pores like an open wound. Just being able to create would ease a little of the anxiety and calm his frayed nerves.
There was a light tap on his forearm, the touch making him glance up questioningly. Yoongi was beside him, his face looking worn with concern, worry wrinkling the space between his brows. “What are you thinking, Taehyung-ah?”
“Just anxious. Ready for this to be over. Wishing I brought paper and a pencil. Regretting my life up until this point, the usual.” He replied in short bursts, an edge of hysteria coloring his voice. He swallowed hard and faced the window again, leg bouncing. Yoongi stood and disappeared for a few moments, Taehyung watching him from the corner of his eye as he made his way to the production crew a few seats away.
“Taehyung.” The brunet glanced across from him, meeting Nev’s gaze. The older man smiled warmly at him, his expression empathetic. “I know you’re nervous, but after today you won’t have anything to wonder about. You’ll get the answers you deserve, and that’s better than being left in the dark, right?”
“Yeah. I guess it is, isn’t it?” Taehyung let his head fall back against the seat, his shoulders slumping. “I know it’s silly. . . but I kind of want to run in the opposite direction.”
“What do you mean?”
“The old adage, you know? What you don’t know won’t hurt you.” He shrugged lightly, a sheepish smile on his face. “If I don’t have any answers then I can go on like this with Jiminie indefinitely. Sure, it’d just be over the internet. But at least there he’s real. I’m scared to be wrong about him. That’s stupid, I know.”
“I get it.” Max spoke up from beside Nev, nodding as if he agreed. “Things will change forever today, and whether the change will be positive or negative is still to be determined. I get the fear there.”
“At least now I have him.” Taehyung paused for a moment before slowly shaking his head, hand coming up to run through his hair. “Well, I guess that’s not necessarily true, huh? Especially if he’s not who he says he is. Or if he’s dating someone else.” His eyes widened and his breath caught on the thought. “Oh god, I didn’t really think of that until now. He could be himself but. . . in a relationship or married! Maybe that’s why he doesn’t want to meet me!”
Yoongi reappeared at his side before the brunet could work himself into a good fit, his hands coming up to reveal a small pad of paper and a mechanical pencil. “Tae-yah, breathe and calm the hell down. Stop working yourself into a tizzy. Use these.” He offered the materials as he sat down, nudging Seokjin with a firm look. The older boy made a face and shrugged as if to say, ‘what can you do?’ and went back to playing on his phone.
Taehyung took the paper and pencil happily, shooting the mint haired boy a thankful and relieved smile. “Thank you, hyung.” Taking a deep breath, he closed his eyes for a moment to find his center. The first press of graphite to paper was like the untangling of a knot, his gaze narrowing to exclude everything but the dark lines on bright white. The world around him no longer existed as he sketched rapidly, the pencil a near blur as he drew.
Art had always been like a trance for him, like an itch in his palms that resonated from the core of his being, unsatisfied until he’d given in to its whims. Taehyung didn’t have a muse that badgered him, didn’t like to think of his art as something separate from himself; they were one and the same. Art was him and he was art, there were no borders where one began and the other one ended, but a swirling mixture of paints, charcoal, emotions, and needs that made up his being. He lost track of time as he drew, the images pouring out of him in thick, bold lines, to the lightest whispers of shading. His hand ached from the flurry of movement, his body fuzzy from exhaustion but his mind clearing like a mirror being wiped of fog. When he finally set the pencil down, he felt more grounded then he had since this whole thing began, felt calmer than this morning, and most importantly he felt ready to tackle this head on.
“Taehyung-ah. . . it’s beautiful.” Seokjin’s voice was a whisper, his gaze locked on the pad of paper now resting absentmindedly in his lap. The brunet smiled at the other boy, the tension no longer weighing his shoulders down.
The image was of a tiger, its ears lying flat against its head and its expression twisted into a ferocious snarl. The tail of the beast was so fluidly drawn that it looked as if it was whipping across the paper, the illusion of movement given emphasis by the bristled hair and jagged stripes. Its paw was up, alarmingly sharp claws extended as it swatted through the air. All over the page were tiny, detailed dragonflies swarming the tiger, the wings so delicately drawn that they looked like fine lace. The ground around the tiger was littered with the broken bodies of downed dragonflies, crush beneath the beast’s giant paws.
“Wow, you’re incredibly talented! It looks like it’s about to come off the page.” Max leaned in to get a closer look, Nev nodding with awe beside him.
The brunet flushed lightly, rubbing the back of his neck. “Thanks. It’s just a quick sketch.”
“You should see Taehyung-ah’s paintings.” Seokjin added, chest puffed up with pride for his younger friend. He ignored the brunet’s whining and continued. “He’ll be the next Van Gogh, I’m telling you. Only he’ll keep all his ears intact because while going topless is sexy, earless will never be in style.”
“What does it mean?” Yoongi cut in before Seokjin could continue, ignoring the scandalized look the older boy shot him. “Why the bugs?”
“Dragonflies symbolize getting through a hard time. The tiger means inner strength and will. And I always use a tiger in reference to myself.” Taehyung shrugged, feeling his face warm as Seokjin cooed at him.
“Our little tiger Tae.”
“I’m literally just as tall as you.”
“You are baby.” Seokjin reinforced with a frown, despite Taehyung’s scowl. The brunet opened his mouth to argue when Nev suddenly interrupted.
“Guys! We’re here!” There was a rush of excitement and expectancy that made the air crackle around them as the train began to slow down. Taehyung quickly looked out the window, eyes wide as he could see the coast line, the ocean roiling and crashing against the beaches. The buildings were gathered close together up and down the hillside, this part of Busan encapsulating a more small town feel with its brightly colored houses and tiny seaside shops. It was beautiful, he realized as he held his breath, the perfect hometown of someone like Park Jimin.
This was it.
Taehyung stood firmly, glancing to the camera crews, to Nev and Max, to his friends, before facing himself in the mirror. Something sure settled in his gut as he stared at his reflection, hands absent mindedly folding up his drawing and sticking it in his pocket. “Ready or not, here I come.” The words were a whisper before he moved to follow the others off the train and into the salty sea air.
* * *
Taehyung was five seconds away from throwing himself over the banister of the café’s balcony and plummeting straight down the bluff side view into the sea.
“Anything yet?” Max sounded frustrated as he slumped down in his chair, nursing his mug of iced coffee he’d been sipping on for the last two hours. Taehyung’s Boba tea sat untouched in front of him, the Boba melting into an unappetizing, congealed mess at the button of the plastic cup. He shook his head with a sigh, glancing to where Nev was texting on his cell next to Max.
Nev huffed as he set the phone on the table, arms crossing over his chest. “Me neither. He’s not texting back.”
“It’s been hours.” Seokjin sounded annoyed and hot, fanning himself with a magazine. Taehyung glared at him. “What?”
“Nobody should look like a model when we’re melting into a puddle.” He pouted at the look of glee on the other boy’s face. “Why do you look so handsome when I’m sure I look like trash? This isn’t about you.”
“What can I say, handsome is as handsome does. Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.”
“Should we call him?” Yoongi asked quietly. The mint haired boy was crammed into a chair as far under the umbrella above them as possible, but Taehyung could still see the telltale flush of his skin from the sun. His brow furrowed, wondering if they should move inside before Yoongi went from well done to crispy.
“I’ve tried twice.” Nev replied, taking off his sunglasses to wipe at his eyes. “I keep getting sent straight to voicemail.”
“Do you think he’d just gonna dip?” Max asked, lifting his phone and typing on it. Nev shrugged. “I’m checking his social media to see if he’s updated anything.”
“Wouldn’t be the first time. I hope not. Don’t forget to check his friends, I would but Jungkook blocked me, so.”
Taehyung could only handle it for another half hour before he was standing up, chair scratching along the concrete patio. “I need some air.”
Seokjin gave him an odd look. “We’re literally outside?”
“Well, I need some different air. I’ll be back in a bit.”
Nev frowned but nodded. “Okay. Keep your phone on you, one of us will call you if we hear from him before you get back. Don’t go too far okay?”
The brunet shot the older man a thumbs up, waving as he headed back in the café. The cool wash of air conditioning along his overheated skin felt like heaven, goosebumps popping up all along his body. He enjoyed it for a few moments, keeping it brief before he resigned himself to the heat again, the summer sun unforgiving as he stepped out the café’s entrance. Keeping on the sidewalk, he headed down the street, hands in his pockets as he took in the sights. The buildings were so quaint there, bright colors all over the place and windows thrown open to allow the salty sea breeze into dwellings; the streets were bustling, more people biking and walking then driving cars, coming in and out of shops with arms littered with bags and smiles on their faces. It seemed like a nice place to grow up (not that Daegu was the ghetto, there was just something about Busan that was so calming and cheerful). He felt the happiness in the air eating away at the tension still lingering in his shoulders, mouth settling into a small smile as he nodded and waved in response to greetings from strangers. He saw signs posted along buildings and in store windows advertising a festival being held in town in two weeks, the colors popping and loud. Taehyung spared a moment to consider going before banishing the idea—who knew how today was going to go, after all. If things ended badly today who knew if he would ever want to return to Busan.
He was hurt that Jimin hadn’t messaged any of them yet. Maybe it was selfish or arrogant, but after the texts this morning he’d assumed the other boy was actually excited to see him, that maybe he was looking forward to it after the initial shock had worn off too. But now. . . he wasn’t sure. And he hated being unsure the most.
In his fantasy, he and Jimin would meet up and the moment their gazes connected for the first time, he would know. He’d be able to tell immediately if this overwhelming fondness was in fact love, that he would see it reflected in Jimin’s eyes. They would both smile and move closer, lingering near each other and not needing words or touch to ascertain their feelings in the moment. It would be peaceful and perfect. And maybe after a bit of just taking him in, he’d finally reach his hand out to take Jimin’s, interlace their fingers and just feel his skin beneath his palm. And maybe Jimin would smile bigger at him, squeeze his hand and step even closer. That’s all he wanted, just to hold his hand and see him smile.
The sound of a car horn honking had him jolting out of his daydream, glancing to the side to see the owner of the car laughing and waving to a pack of teenagers on the sidewalk, the teens waving back excitedly. He placed a hand over his pounding heart and took a breath, shaking his head and laughing softly to himself as he continued down away from the bustle of the town. Eventually he reached sand, the ocean to his left lapping at the beach. It was surprisingly empty for the most part, it being a week day and all, and Taehyung felt himself drifting towards the water’s edge. He could see the café his friends and the camera crew were at, perched high up on the hill, the balcony at the edge. He could make out people just barely from this vantage point, little blobs in the distance and he pulled out his phone to capture the image before moving closer to the water.
The sand was soft and fine, a powdery yellow that glittered in the afternoon sun. He was glad he was wearing shoes for once, sure the sand would be burning hot to the touch as heat waves rolled visually through the air. He wasn’t too psyched about the sweat build up he could feel on his skin, glad he’d thought to slap on a light coating of sunscreen before leaving the house this morning so he wouldn’t burn, at the very least. The water was a beautiful aquamarine, lapping at the yellow sand and frothing a rich white. He could see shells scattered along the water line, a tiny crab not too far from where he stood. The saltiness in the air was almost overpowering, the brine refreshing for someone used to the smog of the inner city. He enjoyed the breeze that came off the ocean, the way it felt as it caressed lightly at his skin; he couldn’t help but smile as he lifted his phone to take some pictures of the rolling surf, wishing for all the world that he’d remembered to grab his camera when he left the house. He was dying to capture stills of the ocean, not a cloud in the sky and the sun beating down brightly. It was beautiful, he could see why people left the city to move here. He was focusing his camera on a rock covered in seagulls jutting out of the water fifty feet from the shore, adjusting the zoom when he heard it.
“Taehyung?” The voice was soft and sweet, a honied lilt to it that had his skin prickling in anticipation. His eyes slammed shut on reflex, memories of sparse phone calls in the middle of the night, gentle laughter and teasing tones racing through his mind. He’d only heard it a few times, but he’d know that voice anywhere, able to pick it out from a crowd blind folded. And the sound of it in real life, without the filter of his phone standing between them, was enough to make his knees weak.
There was a sizzling under his skin that had nothing to do with the heat beating down and trying to bake him alive, a current thrumming through his veins and a stampede through his chest. It was like being at the edge of a cliff, the wind billowing around him and tearing at his clothes, attempting to shove him one way or the other. He was a step away from a fall, he just wasn’t sure what kind.
Again, he was reminded of how much he hated the unknown.
“Jimin.” The word rolled off his lips like a prayer, his voice pitching deeper than normal, huskier around the edges and rough with emotion. He heard a softly awed, “Oh,” that had him biting his lip, his arms lowering and the image he’d been trying to capture completely forgotten, his arms swinging down by his sides. His eyes opened but he found himself gazing resolutely into the horizon, eyes focused on the gently ebbing waves. There was a fear rising in him now, a dark, cold thing that seemed to trail up his chest to his throat, creating a lump there and silencing his voice. He found he was unable to move, body frozen with a mixture of shock and terror, his heart beating on his ear drums in a harsh, deafening cacophony. He could hear movement, the sound of someone shifting in the sand and he fought the urge to look over.
He was here. Jimin was here, right now. Behind him and a little to the right, just out of his line of sight.
“Taehyung-ah.” Was the quietly echoed response, the sound almost lost in the crash of the waves, before the other boy fell silent again. They stood there for a long few moments, the silence ticking away at Taehyung’s sanity as he willed the other boy to speak. He felt like a cola bottle somebody popped Mentos into before sealing it shut; the pressure was building, growing stronger and stronger until he felt as if he was about to come apart at the seams, explode across the hot sand and fall to tiny pieces all over the beach. He was about it either scream, laugh, or burst into tears when the other boy finally spoke again. “Are you. . . are you gonna look at me?” His voice wavered, sounding unsure and anxious; it pained him, to hear Jimin sound like that.
“I’m scared.” He finally admitted after another tense silence, his phone slipping into his pockets so his fingers could tangle together, nervously plucking at his jewelry. His tongue swiped out along his bottom lip before his teeth sunk into the tissue, worrying it.
“I’m scared too.” Jimin replied quietly, and Taehyung could hear him take a step closer. He had the sudden urge to either turn around and hug him or move away and demand Jimin stay out of his bubble. It was a very confusing mixture and he found himself frozen instead. “But. . . I’m here.”
“You weren’t answering our calls or texts.”
“I thought you changed your mind, that you weren’t coming.”
Taehyung bit his lip harder before releasing the nearly bloodless appendage, fingers knotting together tight. “Why? Why did you do that?”
The sigh was soft and worn as Jimin shifted where he stood; if Taehyung looked out the corner of his eye, he could vaguely make out a shadow. “I didn’t want to meet you for the first time with the others all around us, shoving their cameras in our faces and taping us like wild animals in a jungle. The idea of being observed in this moment. . . it was freaking me out. Because it’s supposed to be a private moment, just you and me.” Jimin paused, and when he continued there was an undercurrent of anger in his voice, his words clipped. “But that was almost taken from me, from us! Why Tae? Why did you contact Catfish? Didn’t you trust me at all?”
Taehyung’s brow furrowed, a frown marring his face. “Of course, I trust you—”
“But do you really? Because instead of talking to me and asking me to meet, you put us and everyone we love on TV! Like some sort of freak show!” There was movement behind him, Jimin shifting more out of the shadows and Taehyung’s eyes slammed shut, the fear overtaking his curiosity. “I’m a private person Taehyung! I don’t want to be on TV for everyone to gawk at! Why did you do this?”
“This is so embarrassing, our entire friendship is going to be all over the internet, everyone’s going to know who we are and, and. . . the most intimate details of us are just out there. God, my picture is going to be everywhere too, you realize we’ll never have another moment of peace, right? People will know what we look like. And my social media, god, I’m going to have to set everything to private.” The other boy sounded almost frantic, speaking rapidly with a cute little lisp to his words that Taehyung would coo at in any other moment in time. He could feel his cheeks warming with humiliation, embarrassment and indignation washing over him. He opened his mouth to speak but the other boy interrupted him. “Did you even think about the consequences, Taehyung? Did you consider how this was going to affect us for who knows how long? I can’t believe that you didn’t trust me enough to—”
“Stop!” His voice was startlingly loud, the word firm and laced with anger. “Don’t talk to me about trust, Jimin. You’re the one who doesn’t trust me.”
“What?” Jimin sounded taken aback and annoyed, and it was almost enough to have Taehyung open his eyes and turn to face him. His hands twitched but he held firm.
“You didn’t even want to meet me!”
“That’s not true—”
“It has to be though! Because no matter what I suggested you always had some sort of excuse for why meeting me wasn’t convenient for you!” Taehyung opened his eyes to glare at the ocean, teeth gnawing on his bottom lip. “The only time you finally agreed to meet me, you ditched at the last second. I was already at the restaurant, I looked like such an idiot being stood up like that.”
“That’s not fair, Jungkook was—”
“Oh, Jungkook. A name, finally.” The bitterness tasted acidic on his tongue as his hands curled into tight fists at his sides, jamming them into the deep recesses of his pockets, “You know, before yesterday I didn’t even know what the names of your best friends were? I mean, I told you all about me, about my life, my family, my friends, and yet I realized something. You never shared anything substantial with me. And I can’t help but wonder why that is? Was it me? Was I not good enough or kind enough or worth sharing stuff with? Was there ever a moment you trusted me? Because. . . I don’t think you ever did. And that fucking sucks Jimin, because I gave you all of me without hesitation.” He cut himself off with a harsh, pained laugh. His heart was franticly pounding in his chest, the edges feeling sore and achy, a new fissure running straight through the middle and throbbing without relief. “I don’t. . . I don’t know what we’re doing, why I’m even here. It’s obvious that you mean more to me than I do to you. This was never real to you, was it?”
“Taehyung.” The one word was a plea, the phonetics drawn out and desperate as the footsteps in the sand moved closer. “Taehyung, please don’t say that. That’s not true, it’s been the realest thing in my life! I was scared—”
“You don’t think I was scared, Jiminie? That I wasn’t absolutely terrified that I was falling for some guy on the internet I’ve never met before, despite knowing better than to trust strangers online? I was petrified. I still am, but the difference is that I trusted you to be up front with me, to be honest about who you are and how you felt.”
“Tae, I never lied to you, I swear!”
“No. You just withheld the truth. Why? Why couldn’t you just be honest with me?”
“Look at me. Please Taehyung-ah, please turn around and look at me. I can’t do this like this, please.” It was so filled with hurt and pleading, drenched in sorrow and coming out wet with tears. Taehyung swallowed hard around the lump in his throat, shoulders hunching up with tension as he let out a shaky sigh and finally turned around.
There was a lot he was prepared for, that he had considered throughout the long night he’d spent lying awake and staring at the ceiling, unable to turn his brain off. Taehyung had been prepared for Jimin to be a girl and their relationship to end as friendship. For Jimin to be hideous or extremely overweight and for himself to have to decide how much of a deterrent that would be for him, though he had always believed emotional connections far superseded physical. He was even prepared for the boy named Jungkook to show up and reveal himself to be Jimin, physically ill by the thought of being tricked by a boy using his attractive best friend’s pictures. Taehyung had been prepared and ready for a whole list of options going into this morning, steeled his will to withstand anything.
He hadn’t been prepared for the boy in the pictures.
Jimin stood before him, his freshly dyed blonde locks wind tousled despite his obvious attempts at styling it, his skin tan and a charming array of freckles across his adorably small nose. His eyes were big and brown, deep and expressive even as they sparkled with tears. His lips looked fuller and plusher in person, a small corner of Taehyung’s brain homing in on the pink plumpness despite his roiling emotions. He was shorter than him by a good few inches, which he knew from their conversations and late night teasing, but seeing it for a fact in person made it shocking still. Jimin was wearing a white linen button up, silver jewelry draped around his neck and along his ear lobes, a pair of light blue jeans and sandals to finish the look. Taehyung delighted at the sight of purple nail polish on his toes, a smile flitting across his face before he could stop it. Jimin was wearing light make up, enough to enhance and draw the eye, but not heavy enough to call too much attention to it. Taehyung could feel the butterflies in his stomach taking off as his gaze was caught by small hands twisting together in front of the smaller boy, looking delicate in the multitude of rings and bracelets adorning his hands and wrists. He finally met the blonde’s gaze, his mouth dry and tongue like sandpaper as he swallowed around nothing again.
Jimin was absolutely breathtaking. Pictures had not done him justice.
The blonde ran a hand through his hair, a nervous tic he had mentioned in a past conversation, and Taehyung was in awe as he witnessed it firsthand. “We really need to talk, because we’re getting our wires crossed.” His brow was furrowed with determination as he took a half step forward, pausing to gauge the brunet’s reaction before completing the full step. “Taehyung-ah, I care for you. So much. I never expected this level of connection with some random guy I met online, it frightened me in the beginning how we just clicked. It felt like we’d been friends for years because talking to you was as easy as breathing.” He smiled then, and even with the tears in his eyes and the tracks down his cheeks, it was beautiful. He seemed to light up with it, the familiar crescent eyed smile from the pictures even more breathtaking in person, it made Taehyung feel light headed. “Please don’t doubt this, please don’t doubt us. I care about you, so deeply.”
“I care about you too.” He all but whispered. “That’s why I’m so hurt.”
“Will you. . . will you give me a chance to explain? There’s a nice spot down the beach a ways, where we can sit under a pier by the water. We can get out of the sun, and we’ll have more privacy that way.” Jimin paused, hands twisting together and pulling at his rings again. “I mean, unless you’re too nervous to be somewhere alone with me, which I would totally understand. I promise I’m not some psycho.” Jimin tried for a smile at the attempt at humor, his lips twitching upwards and Taehyung was drawn in by the sight.
“Well, considering I’ve been kind of waiting for this moment for eight months, I’m gonna go ahead and take my chances.” The brunet replied, keeping his tone light. He motioned for Jimin to lead the way and the shorter boy did, heading quickly down the coastline away from the direction the café was in. Taehyung followed, keeping up easily by lengthening his stride, eyes focused on the ground. They were silent and it was horribly awkward, their spat from earlier filling the space between them with tension.
It wasn’t like they had never fought before, because they had. Both of them were very passionate individuals, and Taehyung could easily admit that he was bull headed and stubborn in his worst of moments (Jimin refused to admit anything of the sort, ignoring how that kind of made Taehyung’s point). They had gotten into arguments through text on multiple occasions, a memorable phone call with both voices raised in indignation and anger, subtweets about irritating significant others. None of this was new to them, but one thing Taehyung always appreciated was how quick they were to make up. He hated fighting with Jimin, even when the fights were small and inconsequential. Taehyung had a penchant for crying when he was angry, and Jimin’s heart was soft and abhorred bickering, so fights were easy for them to move past.
Taehyung wondered if this would be the fight that ended it all.
How could they move past this?
“We’re here—woah!” Jimin’s melodic voice broke into the brunet’s reverie, startling him enough that he nearly tripped into the boy now standing in front of him. He hadn’t been aware of how he’d trailed slightly behind, head in the clouds, and it took all his balancing skills to keep from falling fast first into Jimin’s back. The blonde let out a startled sound, his hands coming up as if to catch him and the brunet shifted away as if burned, managing to catch himself on a support beam of the pier they were now standing under and stay upright.
“Shit!” The word came out on a gasp, his heart racing and his hand flying to his chest in shock. “Oh my god, I almost died! Is that how I’ll go? On a beach in Busan under a pier? That’s not a dignified death at all!” He was babbling now, heat crawling up his neck with his embarrassment, staining his ears red.
Laughter bubbled up from deep within Jimin, bright and golden as it was seemingly startled out of him. Taehyung watched in shock at his head was thrown back, his knees weakening as he laughed until he looked like he was about to hit the ground at the force of it, upper body swinging forwards with glee. The brunet held out a hand on instinct, as if to catch him, when the blonde finally straightened up, eyes glimmering with mischief and amusement. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, but that’s the most dramatic reaction to a trip ever!” Taehyung was shocked at a new, endearing discovery.
Jimin laughed with his whole body.
“My friends might say I’m dramatic, but I usually just tell them to shut up and let me live my life.” Taehyung finally replied after the surprise wore off, his smile weak as Jimin grinned brightly at him. The blonde motioned to a rocky structure, the surface flat and wide enough to give two or three people ample room to sit or lie down with room to spare, high enough off the ground that Taehyung’s legs would dangle a bit. “This is cool.”
“Kookie, Joon-hyung, and I discovered it when we were kids. This is kind of our place. I like to come here when I need to talk, or just to think. I dance here sometimes too, in the sand.” The blonde seemed self-conscious as he glanced from the rock to Taehyung, feet scuffing lightly in the sand. “Helps me clear my head.”
The pier went off far into the water, the slatted wood creating a roof that the sun didn’t penetrate very well, leaving the space shadowed and a few degrees cooler. It was a welcome relief, and Taehyung wasted no time in immediately ducking down to tear his shoes from his feet, tossing them carelessly to the side (though he made sure not to toss them too close to the water’s edge, lest they be lost to the sea), wiggling his toes with delight in the cool sand. “I can see why, it’s nice.” Stepping over to the rock, he turned his back to it and placed his hands on the flattened surface, pulling himself up and onto it so his feet could dangle in the air. Jimin was eyeing him from the ground, his cheeks pinking when the brunet raised an eyebrow at him and looked away. He shuffled off to the side of the stone, ducking down for a moment before reappearing with—
Taehyung’s face lit up with delight as Jimin turned to shoot him a dark look as he placed the small stool next to the natural outcropping. He opened his mouth to comment when Jimin’s hand came up, a finger held out warningly. “Not a word.” Clamping his mouth shut, Taehyung just grinned, shoulders shaking with suppressed laughter. The blonde was redder now, as he settled on the hard surface with his legs crossed, leaving a good two feet of space between them. They were silent for a bit, looking anywhere but at each other, and Taehyung could feel the tension rising again. It made him itch beneath his skin, a crawly feeling that had goosebumps breaking out across his body; he was tired too, a headache settling in above his eyes and making his head feel hot and heavy. He rubbed at them, trying to suppress the jaw cracking yawn that threatened to come out and only partially succeeding. “Tired?” The question was tentative, voice soft.
He glanced over, meeting Jimin’s eyes for half a second as his hands fell back into his lap before he looked away, staring out at the water with a nod. “Didn’t sleep last night.”
“I didn’t either.” Jimin admitted, running a hand through his hair. There was a small part of Taehyung that ached to do that himself, to finally reach out and touch the boy he’d only known through a screen for almost a year. “I was too scared, nervous to finally meet you.”
“I’m that scary, huh?” The joke fell flat, too much hurt in them to be light hearted. Jimin grimaced from beside him, shaking his head.
“No, it’s not you. It’s me.”
“Ah, a classic.”
“Taehyung!” Jimin looked over at him sharply, eyes narrowed. “Stop making jokes for like a second, I’m trying to—I just want to explain. Please.” Jimin seemed to rein himself in, lips pursed in a pout as he returned his gaze to the shoreline; Taehyung felt a stab of guilt, stomach uneasy as he responded with silence, unsure what to say that wouldn’t come out as harsh, barbed words hiding hurt. Jimin took a breath before speaking up again. “When we first met, I was really struggling with some things. In the dance world. . . things are really competitive. Especially in ballet, which is what I chose as my main study. Everything is about looks, if you’re naturally talented or just a hard worker, who practices the most, the list goes on. And with ballet comes dietary restrictions and the whole weight talk.” Jimin shifted where he sat, his hands locking together to twist his rings again. “I got told right after we met that I was too fat. That I needed to lose weight, restrict my diet more, spend more hours in the gym if I wanted to keep my position at the academy. And I could always go elsewhere or join Kookie in the hip-hop division. But ballet is my life! I love competing in all the other types of dance I do with Kook-ah, but ballet is my first love. But how can you restrict a diet that’s minimal at best? Or spend more than the four hours a day I already spent at the gym?” His laugh was a sad, broken thing. “So, I struggled with an eating disorder and body dysmorphia. I started to believe everything people told me, that I was too fat, too ugly, and I hated myself.”
Taehyung’s heart lurched as he took in the tired expression on the other boy’s face, wanting to reach out and hug him. “Jimin, you have to know that’s not true.”
The blonde continued on like he hadn’t heard the brunet. “But I had you, a friend. My best friend.” Jimin smiled at him for a moment before he was looking away again. “But I started to really like you, way more than I thought. I was so surprised when you said you felt it too, but I was so happy! Talking to you is my favorite part of my day.”
Jimin smiled, lips quirking up. “That makes me happy.” The smile disappeared. “But you wanted to meet, and my stupid insecurities got in the way. I didn’t want you to see me, to. . . look at my body and tell me how disgusting I am.”
“And my friends told me I was being stupid, though I already knew that. Joon-hyung cried one day because he told me I was starting to look like a skeleton because I would rarely eat, that I was always so exhausted and grumpy. It was a hard few months, but I got in touch with a therapist and I’m working through it. I still have bad days, but I don’t hate my body as much anymore, and I’m learning to handle the criticism in dance better.” He shrugged lightly, hand going to his hair again, nervously. “I know it’s not an excuse but the idea of video chatting or meeting in person was too much for a long time. I wasn’t ready, and I’m sorry.”
“I wish you had told me.” Taehyung finally spoke, heart heavy as he met the blonde’s gaze. “I had no idea you were going through that; I would have been by your side. I wouldn’t have pushed so hard to meet.”
“You were by my side though, even if you didn’t know it. You made me smile the biggest on the bad days. And honestly Tae, you never pushed hard. You’re too gentle to actually have pushed me.” Jimin gave him a sweet smile.
“I felt like I badgered you, like maybe you thought I was too annoying. Everyone thinks I’m annoying.” Taehyung replied quietly, tugging at a loose strand at the knee of his jeans. Jimin shaking his head rapidly had him glancing up in shock, the boy’s face open and earnest.
“No, no! I’ve never thought you were annoying, not even for a moment! Please believe that!” Jimin’s hand had reached out, hovering as if to place it on Taehyung’s knee before he slowly withdrew it, cheeks pinking. “I really like you. I don’t think you’re annoying at all. You were the sweetest, kindest boy to me, and you were always there with a compliment or a joke. You listened to me rant about stupid stuff and I never felt like I was judged with you.”
“I didn’t judge you, there was nothing to judge you for.” Taehyung’s cheeks were rosy as he rubbed the back of his neck.
“And Tae, I’m sorry about November. I really did want to meet you; I was ready to for the first time. But Jungkook really was in the hospital.” At Taehyung’s suspicious gaze, Jimin quickly pulled his phone from his pocket, scrolling through it for a moment before holding it out. It was a picture of the bunny smiled boy in a hospital gown, laying asleep in a hospital bed, body covered in bandages and face mottled with bruising. “He got in a car accident, a hit and run. And here’s a time stamp!” He swiped up on the picture and the brunet leaned in to read it, guilt growing as he read the exact date he and Jimin were supposed to have met up. “See? I wasn’t lying or ducking out, I swear. I wanted to meet you Tae, I really did.”
“I’m. . . I’m sorry. For accusing you of lying about that.” Taehyung ducked his head, shame making his eyes sting. “I was a jealous asshole, I’m sorry Jiminie.”
“Of Jungkook. We, uh. . . we were looking at your social media, you know how Catfish works. Everyone thought that I might be talking to Jungkook. And with the pictures of you and him. . . you guys looked close.” He shrugged helplessly. “I was jealous. Especially when I didn’t know he existed until yesterday.”
“Oh god, me and Jungkookie? No way, that’d be like dating my little brother.” Jimin’s amusement faded, wincing at his words. “I’m sorry for not talking about my friends. I don’t think I realized how much I held back, because it feels like I tell you everything.”
“I thought you did.”
“You really were up front about everything?” Jimin sounded awed and shocked, turning his body more to face Taehyung. “You. . . didn’t hold anything back? Why not?”
Taehyung’s shoulder hunched forward as if to curl in on himself, biting his bottom lip nervously. “Yeah, everything I told you was true. About my friends, family, childhood memories. I didn’t hesitate because you never gave me a reason to believe that you weren’t doing the same. It wasn’t until the guys from Catfish and my friends started drilling me with questions that I realized I barely knew you or your life. That was a big fucking blow to the gut, let me tell you.” Taehyung brought one bare foot to the rock’s surface, wrapping his arms around it loosely as he dropped his chin onto his knee. “I felt like a fool, for being so open.”
“Please don’t, I’m sorry Tae.” Jimin scooted a few inches closer, leaning in slightly as he tried to catch the brunet’s eye. “I promise I was open too, just maybe more guarded. With my insecurities and how you acted, it felt too good to be true. I think I was scared to meet you today because I was terrified you wouldn’t be you.”
Taehyung looked up at him, shocked. “I was the one asking to meet or video chat! I sent you pictures all the time! And my social media, why would you think I wasn’t me?”
Jimin looked embarrassed and frustrated, rucking both hands through his hair. “I don’t know! I mean hell, look at Catfish! The show just proves that people can deceive each other so well if they’re smart! And I mean, look at you Taehyung-ah.” The blonde gestured to him, almost mad. “Have you looked in a mirror?”
“What?” Taehyung glanced down at himself before meeting his gaze. “What are you even talking about?”
Jimin was giggling now, his hand coming up to cover his mouth. “Oh, come on, really? You’re this smart, funny, kind guy with a heart of gold, and you look like a freaking runway model? My friends were one hundred percent sure you were a catfish.”
Taehyung’s cheeks burned as he pouted. “Says the guy who looks like a literal angel! Please.” Jimin’s cheeks were pink too, but he had a pleased look in his eyes that made Taehyung want to fall onto the sand and bury himself alive so he didn’t have to deal with the swell of emotions. “And besides, my friend was positive you were a young kid or a girl, because apparently your voice doesn’t fit the pictures. Which is crazy because you have the prettiest voice to fit the prettiest face, I could listen to you laugh, talk, or sing all day and never get tired of it.” He blanched, immediately looking away as Jimin glanced up at him with wide eyes. “Uh, oops. I talk too much sometimes.”
“Tae, you know you’ve called me hot before, right? Why are you embarrassed now?” Jimin’s laughter tugged at Taehyung’s lips, willing him to smile and laugh along.
“That was different. This is face to face and I’m sure mine is way too red to continue this conversation.” The brunet’s lower lip was pushed out in a pout as he tossed his head back, shaking it before running his hand over his flushed cheeks. “Literally kill me.”
“Can’t, already promised I wasn’t a psycho.” Jimin teased playfully, eyes bright when Taehyung risked a look over. “Plus, you’re too pretty, it’d be a shame.”
Taehyung couldn’t help the bashful smile that crossed his face. “You’re a terrible flirt, Jiminie.”
“I have a feeling that’s your type though.”
“I do live in Seoul, by the way.” The sudden declaration had Taehyung blinking in surprise, noting the shy look on Jimin’s face. “I wasn’t lying about that either. My family is from here, and I come back home over summer break usually, to spend time with them and my friends. I know. . . how bad it looked that I wasn’t in Seoul when you guys called yesterday. And I know I haven’t mentioned Busan before. I’m sorry Taehyung-ah, for keeping so much under lock and key. I just. . . I was so afraid of being let down that I didn’t give you the full chance I should have.” Jimin was staring down at his hands, tugging at his rings again, biting his lower lip. “I really like you, and I’m sorry if I screwed things up with us because I kept so much hidden.”
“I forgive you. I just. . . it feels like wasted time we could have spent together.” Taehyung replied quietly, his voice deep and soft. “I’m sorry I was so mean earlier. I was just so angry and hurt that it felt like this was all a mistake. I care about you, so much, and I know you didn’t do any of that to hurt me, you were just guarding yourself. How can I fault you for that? Not everyone is as trusting of an idiot like me.” He laughed softly, only to give a cry of pain when a small fist connected with his upper arm. “Ouch!”
“Don’t talk like that!”
His eyes were wide with shock, lingering on Jimin’s self-satisfied smirk. “Did you just punch me?”
“I’ll do it again too, try me.”
Jimin’s laugh was high and sparkling, body bowing forward as he shook with it. “’Spousal’ abuse? I hate to break it to you Tae, but I’m just your boyfriend.”
“You are?” Taehyung’s voice lost the teasing tone, sounding quiet and small. Jimin’s laughter cut off quickly, his eyes wide and face drawn in shock, and Taehyung could see what might be hurt in his eyes.
“Do you want to be?”
“I thought I already was?”
Taehyung laughed softly, rubbing his hands over his jean clad thighs as he crossed his legs. “I mean yeah, to me you were. The others were just saying that maybe. . . maybe it wasn’t as real to you as it was to me. So, I started wondering if maybe you were cool with an online boyfriend, but in real life maybe you didn’t want the hassle.”
“You could never be a hassle to me!” Jimin’s hand shot out, hovering over Taehyung’s like he was going to take it before pausing. The blonde chewed on his lip before looking away, withdrawing his hand.
Taehyung made a split decision in that moment, the need to touch and feel too strong for him to ignore. He caught Jimin’s hand by the tips of his fingers, lightly tugging it back in his direction as he marveled at the size of it. Where his hands were large with long, slender fingers and a little knobby at the knuckles, Jimin’s were small and delicate, his fingers shorter and a little chubbier, the rings accentuating them yet making them look smaller. He gently turned Jimin’s palm down, running his fingers across the back of the small hand and wondering at how soft his sun kissed skin was, smooth as the finest of silks. He turned the hand back over and slowly interlaced their fingers, unable to stop his grin at how small Jimin’s hand was in his, how it was almost completely engulfed.
After so long of wondering, Taehyung finally had his answer: Jimin’s hand fit perfectly in his.
He looked up, meeting Jimin’s dazed look with a warm smile. “So, boyfriends. Officially.”
“I’d like that.” Jimin replied shyly, his other hand rucking through his hair as he glanced away with a happy smile. “I’m glad you’re here.”
Jimin met his gaze after a few more moments, cheeks pink even as he leaned in to stage whisper conspiratorially. “You’re even more unbelievably handsome in person, you know. It’s kind of unfair. How am I supposed to impress you when you look like that?”
His laugh was loud and low, bouncing off the wooden beams and echoing across the water. “Oh god, Jimin-ah, stop!”
Taehyung’s shoulders shook with his laugh, Jimin giggling beside him, a clear, dazzling tone. When he’d managed to contain himself, Taehyung leaned in too, noting the way the flush spread farther across Jimin’s cheeks, the way Jimin’s eyes dipped down to his lips before looking up again quickly. “You’re beautiful. I wasn’t joking when I said you look like an angel, my heavenly Jiminie.”
“Stop overexaggerating.” The blonde looked overwhelmed but pleased, eyes slipping closed as he turned his face away from the taller boy. Taehyung’s eyes followed the line of his sharp jaw, tracing the column of his throat before settling back on his profile, biting his lip. The hand not currently intertwined with Jimin’s came up, gently catching that sharp chin and guiding the blonde to face him again. Jimin’s eyelashes fluttered against his cheekbones as he took a shaky breath, eyelids glittering in the soft sunlight. It took a squeeze of his hand for the blonde to finally open his eyes, for him to meet Taehyung’s smile with his own.
“Not exaggerating lovely, just telling the truth. You’re otherworldly.” His tongue came out to swipe along his lower lip as he paused, Jimin’s keen eyes following the movement. “My beautiful Jimin-ah, I can’t believe you’re here in front of me right now. I’m touching your skin and holding your hand, but it feels like such an astonishing dream.”
“Taehyungie.” The blonde breathed, bottom lip catching between his teeth as he sucked in a breath, eyes flitting down to stay on his lips. “Please.”
It was like the floor had suddenly dropped out from under him, his stomach swooping and breath catching at those words, a quiet plea that sent a burst of heat through his body. It trickled down him, tingling in his fingertips and sparking along their joined skin, his eyes fluttering as he leaned in. Jimin was moving closer too, meeting him halfway as Taehyung’s hand slid from his chin to delicately cup his cheek. A small hand settled on his thigh, bleeding warmth into the material and sinking into his skin, Taehyung feeling the contact almost like the sweetest of bruises.
The catching of their lips was soft, a light pressure, and Taehyung sighed against Jimin’s mouth. Plump lips melded perfectly with his as Jimin kissed back, tilting his head slightly to press them more firmly together. It was sweet, the smell of citrus cologne making his head dizzy as the kiss ended; Jimin’s breath was warm against his lips, their nose tips brushing for a moment before the blonde was pressing closer again, his grip on Taehyung’s hand and thigh tightening. Taehyung’s hand slid to cup the back of his neck and hold him there, groaning lowly when Jimin’s tongue swiped out along his mouth, hot and wet, and he parted his lips quickly. Jimin immediately took the invitation, tongue sliding in to tangle with Taehyung’s, running along his palette and over his teeth before he was making a soft sound as Taehyung sucked teasingly on it. Two kisses turned into three, turned into four, until Taehyung had lost track, his mind completely enveloped in the feel of Jimin’s lips against his, burning at the contact until he was afraid he might burst into ash, the sound of waves crashing in the background.
It didn’t end until Jimin finally pulled back enough that Taehyung’s questing lips couldn’t follow, the blonde steadying him with a giggle when the forward movement nearly sent Taehyung toppling into his lap. “Careful there, Taetae.”
Taehyung’s grin was a little punch drunk as he finally let go of Jimin’s neck (taking care to let his fingernails drag lightly over the sensitive skin, the smaller boy shivering), running the now free hand through his hair. “Wow. Best first kiss ever.”
Jimin’s hand came up to cover his smile, eyes scrunched up happily, squeezing Taehyung’s hand again (as far as he was concerned, that hand was Jimin’s now, he’d be happy if he got to hold the smaller hand forever). “Same.”
Taehyung opened his mouth to speak when his ring tone was suddenly blaring, making him jump with fright as he made an undignified squeaking sound. Jimin was laughing, leaning forward with the force of his mirth as Taehyung haphazardly dug the device from his pocket, nearly dropping it in his haste to answer. “Hyung, I’m kind of busy right now—”
“Tae, we don’t have time for your moping, Jimin’s friends Namjoon and Jungkook are here.” Yoongi sounded frustrated, Taehyung could almost picture how tight his jaw was clenched. “They say that Jimin is coming, you need to get back here before he bails.”
Taehyung met Jimin’s curious gaze, lips quirking into a small smile. “I don’t think Jiminie is going to bail.”
“It’s good to see your relentless optimism has returned in full, annoying force. Now get your ass back here before I drag it back. Seokjin-hyung is being a horrible flirt to the shy, glasses wearing one who looks about two seconds from melting into a puddle, and I’m afraid the tall, beefy one is going to tell your boy not to show up after all.” He could hear Seokjin’s flirty laughter in the background, soft noises of conversation buzzing over the line.
“Like I said hyung, I’m not worried about it. Though, I doubt Jimin-ah is on his way right now.”
He could almost hear Yoongi’s eyes narrowing. “Why is that?”
“Well, you see, it’s kind of a funny story actually. Remember how I went on that walk?”
“Taehyung, are you with Jimin right now?” The noise on the other end of the line cut off.
“Yes? Yes. I am.”
There was silence for a few long, tense moments, before the mint haired boy was speaking again. “Taehyung. What. The fuck. Come back here, right now.”
“I don’t know, you sound like you might throw me over the balcony edge if I do that. Not safe.”
“Don’t make me come hunt you down. I swear to god.” His tone was menacing around the warning, and Taehyung groaned and hung his head.
“Fine. But if you kill me, please remember that I don’t want a funeral, just toss my ashes in the Han River and be done with it. Oh, and make such Tannie doesn’t go to Jin-hyung. He’s not a worthy owner.” There was a soft sound of protest that sounded a lot like Seokjin, and Taehyung grinned despite the look of shock and confusion on Jimin’s face. His eyes trailed back down to plump lips and he licked his own, plush lips smirking in response.
“That’s unsanitary. And we’ll see.”
“See you soon hyung.” He hung up, sending up a prayer that Hoseok would keep Yoongi from actually murdering him, before he was sliding from the rock, bare feet hitting cool sand. He finally released Jimin’s hand, the smaller boy huffing in response and he couldn’t help but chuckle.
“Where are you going? Is everything okay?” The blonde’s eyes were wide and open, head tilting to the side in curiosity. His bangs fell across his forehead and the brunet couldn’t help but take a careful step towards where he was seated, stepping between his knees and resting one hand on the rock beside his hip, while the other moved up to gently brush the bangs off his brow.
“We are going to meet our friends at the café we’ve been waiting at all morning. Apparently, your friends are there now as well.”
Jimin’s cheeks were pink as he leaned into Taehyung’s hand, holding onto his wrist and tilted his warm cheek into the taller boy’s palm. “Yeah, it was a diversion.”
The blonde giggled, sounding almost breathless at Taehyung leaned more into his space. “I told you, I wanted to meet you alone. I was banking on you needing to walk off your anxiety for that to happen. Joon-hyung and Kookie were my second line of defense.”
“How did you even know where we were?”
Jimin gave him an almost bored look, though his lips twitched. “It’s not that hard to find the people with the camera crew walking through town. You guys weren’t exactly stealthy.”
“Okay, fair.” Taehyung chuckled shaking his head, his thumb brushing Jimin’s cheekbone. He studied the older boy for a few long moments, his smile softening as he took in the blonde’s cheeks, his small nose, his perfectly arched eyebrows, his warm eyes. He loved the color pink in the other boy’s face, loved the way Jimin was confident online but seemed to squirm under Taehyung’s gaze. Something loosened in his chest, relaxing for the first time in forty eight hours as he leaned in and pressed a careful kiss to Jimin’s forehead. He pulled away enough to speak, his lips brushing skin as he spoke. “Hey Jiminie?”
“Yes?” Jimin’s other hand clutched in Taehyung’s shirt, as if to hold him there, his voice weak.
“You’re perfect as you are. You’re beautiful, smart, kind, witty. . . You’re all I want. And you are more than good enough, no matter what anyone says. Please come to me if you ever doubt yourself, let me reassure you. You don’t have to go through things alone.”
The blonde’s next breath was shaky, his forehead leaning in to press against Taehyung’s lips once more. He could feel the way the smaller boy trembled in the cage of his arms, and Taehyung smiled against his skin. “Let’s keep going for a long time, okay?”
“Okay. I only have you.”
* * *
“Kim Taehyung, get your flat ass over here right this instant or so help me god!” Seokjin’s voice echoed across the balcony as the café door opened, Taehyung stepping through the doorway out of the cool air and back into the baking sun. He rolled his eyes at the older boy’s antics, smiling reassuringly at Jimin as the shorter boy followed. His hair was looking a little crazy from how many times he had rucked his hands through it on the walk over, but Taehyung had to admit the mad scientist look was cute on him.
His Hyungs were sitting at the table he had left them at with two faces he recognized from the pictures, a brunet with a bunny smile and bespectacled boy with his hands folded on the table in from of him, the Catfish crew nearby. Yoongi and Seokjin’s faces were unamused, gazes searching his face worriedly as they headed over, glancing behind him after a moment and their eyes widened in shock and sharpening with distrust. Jimin muttered something lowly under his breath, too quiet for the brunet to catch, when he felt a small hand skating over his palm, tiny fingers interlacing with his own long digits to hold on tightly. The older boy was shaking slightly, a tremor to his fingers and Taehyung squeezed his hand, stopping for a moment and angling his body to block Jimin’s from the table’s piercing eyes.
“Hey, you okay?”
“Nervous. Scared. Not psyched about being on camera. Wishing I had taken a moment to fix my makeup. Or change clothes. Fuck, I’m all sweaty.” Jimin rambled nervously, his voice pitched an octave higher than normal in what Taehyung could only guess as stress induced hysteria. “Maybe I should—”
“Calm down, for starters.” Taehyung grinned when the blonde glared at him balefully, lips pursed in a pout. He brought his hand up and messed with his hair, calming the wild strands as he spoke, the blonde sighing at the feeling. “Everything’s going to be okay, my Hyungs are really nice once you get past Yoongi-hyung’s faux cold exterior and Seokjin-hyung’s nosiness. I’m worried about meeting your friends too, but I know it’ll be fine.”
Jimin smiled then, biting his lip. “They’ll love you. Kookie especially.”
Taehyung wasn’t touching that one with a ten foot pole, still trying to squash the residual jealousy. “And my friends will love you too, so it’s gonna be fine. I’ll be beside you the whole time, I promise.” He held up his free hand, grinning as he extended his pinkie. Jimin eyed it before sighing, a smile tugging on his lips as he reached a hand out to link their pinkies. Taehyung’s grin widened, laughter bubbling up from his chest as he released Jimin’s hand to grab his wrist and hold it against his hand. He extended his pinkie, waiting for Jimin to do the same. “Oh my god, look at how tiny!” His giggles were unfiltered as Jimin gave him an exasperated look and attempted to tug his hand away, lightly kicking the taller boy when he wouldn’t budge.
“It’s so cute. This is amazing. Best day of my life.”
“Jesus, you’re so dramatic! Let me go, you giant!”
“My itty bitty Chimmy.” He cooed, laughing as Jimin smacked his chest, though the sting left quicker when his hand stayed rested on Taehyung’s pec. The contact warmed him, filling his chest with peace (and maybe something a little less wholesome and family friendly). “So cute.”
“You’re embarrassing.” The statement was almost a whine, Jimin’s fingers lightly clenching his t-shirt, though he dutifully left his pinkie up in comparison with Taehyung’s, and his cheeks were aglow with pleasure at the compliments despite his protests. “Don’t make me kick your ass.”
“You can do anything you want to my ass.” He waggled his eyebrows until the other boy was leaning into him weakly as he laughed. “And you’re adorable. Come on, let’s go.” He used the grip on Jimin’s wrist to tow him towards the table, sneakily intertwining their hands again as he shot the table his biggest, boxiest smile when he came to a stop. He held up a hand in greeting. “Hi Hyungs! Look who I found!”
“Where have you been? Why didn’t you call me? Did I not raise you right?” Seokjin demanded dramatically, standing up with his hands flat on the table top. The brunet just rolled his eyes.
“You didn’t raise me—”
“I raised you on my back and this is how you repay me?” Seokjin fell back into his seat with a huff, letting his arm fall along the back of the bespectacled boys chair, making the other boy flush and glance over in shock. “The disrespect from your own kids these days, I swear.”
“Sorry Eomma.” Taehyung replied cheekily, laughing at the scandalized look the older boy shot him, pulling out a chair and gesturing for Jimin to sit. The blonde smiled shyly at him before taking the seat, tugging Taehyung into the chair beside him by their joined hands. “I’ll call next time. I was a little busy.”
“We can see that. Explanation?” Yoongi looked unamused, arms folded across his chest, iced coffee melting on the table in front of him.
The brunet pouted. “Fine. Jiminie found me while I was on the beach taking pictures of the ocean.” Turning to the blonde, he smiled reassuringly before motioning to the other boys. “The angry looking one is Yoongi-hyung, and the one shamelessly draping himself across your friend is Seokjin-hyung.” He grinned at the twin glares he received, winking playfully as he glanced back to Jimin, the older boy laughing into his hand. He sent a self-satisfied smile in the older boys’ direction. “See? I told you he was real.”
Seokjin rolled his eyes, Yoongi letting out a tired sigh. “Forgive us for doubting you.”
“I know there’s sarcasm dripping off your words, but I’m gonna just pretend that was genuine and say thanks.”
Jimin smiled shyly at the two boys, waving with his free hand. “Hi, nice to meet you both. I’m Park Jimin. And these are my friends, Jungkook and Namjoon-hyung.” He motioned to both boys respectively, though his smile turned sheepish. “Though I think you already know that.”
“We do.” Seokjin sounded smug, his smile flirty as he glanced over to the red faced boy beside him. “They’ve been the most extraordinary of company. Truly a delight.”
“It’s nice to finally meet you, hyung!” It took Taehyung a moment to realize the bunny smiled boy—Jungkook—was talking to him, eyes dancing with glee. “Jimin-hyung won’t shut up about you! ‘Taehyung-ah’ this, ‘Taehyungie’ that. . . literally never stops, even when I beg. It’s gross.”
Jimin’s blush deepened as he picked up a napkin and threw it at the younger boy. “Shut up, I do not!”
“Interesting.” Taehyung finally replied, smirking slightly at the blonde. Jimin refused to meet his gaze, even when the brunet squeezed his hand playfully. “If it’s any consolation, I might talk about you a bit too—”
Seokjin cut him off, rolling his eyes so hard he nearly fell out of his seat. “God, he just goes on and on and on. It’s never ending. If I have to hear ‘hyung, Jimin-ah is such a dreamboat’ or ‘hyung, look at those thighs, that jawline!’ one more time, I’m gonna hurl. You should have heard him yesterday, what was it he said Yoongi?”
Yoongi’s smirk was wide. “That Jimin could take him out, on a date or with a gun, and he’d thank him either way.” Jimin’s laughter burst out of him in surprise, turning to grin at the brunet; it was Taehyung’s turn to avoid his gaze, looking up as his cheeks colored.
“Did you really say that?” Jimin asked quietly, voice warm and eyes sparkling.
Seokjin leaned over the table, smiling devilishly despite Taehyung’s groan. “Oh, he definitely did! And last week you must have sent him a selfie or something, because we found him rolling around in the grass by the pond, whining for you to step on him.”
“Okay! Enough!” Taehyung’s voice was a pitch too high, bordering on screechy as the table laughed. “I know sharing is caring, but could you care a little less?”
Yoongi looked thoughtful. “Remember when—”
“Stop!” Taehyung nearly hopped out of his seat and across the table, Jimin’s firm grip on his hand the only thing keeping him in his seat. He turned to the other boy, pouting. “I have regrets.”
“So, you talk about me a lot then.” Jimin giggled behind his hand, leaning in and letting his gaze darken. “Tell me more, Taetae.”
“Nope.” He swallowed hard, eyes darting to Jimin’s plump pink lips then away again. “No more.”
“I’ll tell you anything you’d like to know.” Seokjin cut in, ruining the moment. Taehyung gave the older boy an exasperated look, willing his cheeks to cool. “Hit me up some time.”
“Thank you.” Jimin seemed enthused, side eyeing Taehyung with a grin. “I think I’ll take you up on that.”
“We have stories too, if you’re interested hyung.” Jungkook interjected, eyes locked on Taehyung as if to taunt. “Lots of them.”
“And pictures.” Namjoon finally spoke up, clearing his throat and seeming to shrink a little when Seokjin turned to face him with a sultry smile. His shoulders hunched up to his ears as he resolutely ignored the older boy. “We’d be happy to even the playing field.”
Taehyung turned to Jimin, hooking his thumb at the blonde’s friends. “I like them.”
“Unfortunately, so do I.” He looked put out, cheeks pushed out in annoyance as he glared at Jungkook and Namjoon in turn.
“He loves us, don’t lie!”
“Taehyung, glad to see you back! And it looks like you picked up a friend.” Nev was walking over, Max not too far behind with his camera, both wearing curious expressions. “I’m Nev, and this is Max! Can I assume you’re Park Jimin?”
Swallowing hard and rubbing his palm against his jeans, Jimin stood and finally released Taehyung’s hand. He held it out, shaking both men’s hands before bowing quickly. “Yes, that’s me. I’m sorry for the trouble I’ve given you, it was never my intention to cause any issues.”
“No, it’s okay. This process can be stressful, we totally get it.” Nev reassured with a bright, toothy smile. His hands landed on the back of a chair near Taehyung. “Do you mind if we sit down and ask you a couple of questions?” The blonde nodded quietly, retaking his seat as the Americans got seated. There were a few moments of silence while they seemed to size Jimin up, a smile playing on Max’s lips.
“Okay, I have to be honest. I’m shocked that you’re you.” Max admitted out loud finally, grinning. “I definitely though you were a catfish, one hundred percent sure of it. So, I’m kind of at a loss.”
Nev was smiling too, shaking his head as if pleasantly surprised. “I guess my first question is why? If you’re you, which you clearly are,” He gestured up and down to Jimin, the blonde running his hand through his hair sheepishly, “Why didn’t you want to meet up with Taehyung before this?”
“It’s not that I didn’t want to meet him.” Jimin was careful with how he picked his words, clearly uncomfortable every time he so much as glanced at the camera pointed at him and Taehyung shifted in his seat, guilt washing over him. “I really did. Finding Taehyung was. . . the best thing that could have happened to me. I was working through some personal issues when we met. Lack of self-esteem, no confidence, that sort of thing. As a professional dancer, there was a lot of stress and pressure, and it wasn’t a good time in the beginning.”
“And what about November?” Max asked, crossing his arms lightly as he settled more comfortably in his chair. “Taehyung said you two were supposed to meet up to celebrate your birthdays? But then something happened?”
“That’s my fault actually. I was in a car accident and ended up in the hospital.” Jungkook interjected, the entire table looking to him curiously. The attention didn’t seem to faze him, though the tips of his ears turned pink as he spoke. “I was in the hospital for a couple weeks actually. It’s how I got these sick wheels!” It wasn’t until he moved back away from the table that Taehyung realized the younger brunet was in a wheelchair, his eyes widening in shock.
“What happened?” Yoongi asked quietly, gaze soft on the younger boy. This time Jungkook definitely flushed, glancing to the older boy then away.
“Some asshole wasn’t paying attention and the result was a couple vertebrae looking like they went through one of those tools you use to dice vegetables by hand, shit, what’s it called—”
“A vegetable chopper?” Seokjin offered with a laugh as Jungkook groaned and smacked himself in the forehead before he was wheeling himself back to the table.
“Yeah, one of those! So, yeah. I’m wheelchair bound for life now, so Jimin-hyung helped a lot those first few weeks, even though he was supposed to be getting ready for the showcase.” The brunet gave Jimin a hard look, and the blonde stuck his tongue out at him.
“Who else would have helped your whiny, gimpy ass?” His words were severe but everyone at that table could hear the fondness in his voice, the gentle teasing that had Jungkook’s lips quirking up in a big toothed smile.
“Well, I had a right to be!”
“I’m sorry that happened to you. Have things been hard since?” Nev asked, brow furrowed and mouth turned down into a frown.
Jungkook shrugged lightly, picking up his carton of banana milk and sipping it. “It’s been an adjustment, and as a dancer I’ll admit I was devastated at first. But now I’m doing fine, and without the distraction of dance and sports, I’m focusing on my other interests.”
“Overwatch doesn’t count as an interest.” Namjoon was smiling as Jungkook turned to him in faux outrage, swinging at the older boy.
“Hyung! Don’t out me like that!”
Namjoon was laughing lightly, his smile big and dimpled, and Taehyung couldn’t help but laugh at the dazed expression on Seokjin’s face. “I’m only calling it as I see it, Kook-ah.” The brunet swung at the older boy again, his hands curled into fists and the dimpled boy fell to the side to avoid him, unintentionally leaning against Seokjin’s shoulder and chest. The bespectacled boy froze for a moment, glancing up with a sheepish expression. “Oh, sorry hyung. Kids these days, right?” There was hope hidden there, beyond the flushed cheeks and half closed eyes, the younger boy biting his lower lip as Seokjin took a deep breath. Taehyung rolled his eyes at Jimin, a small smirk on his face as he waited for whatever carefully crafted line the older boy had ready.
But to Taehyungs surprise, Seokjin panicked.
His chair nearly hit the floor as he stood rapidly, knocking Namjoon off his shoulder and stumbling to get around the chairs. There was color rising in his cheeks, eyes feverishly bright as he swallowed hard. “I think—I’m getting a drink. A hot drink; anyone else feeling a little chilled?”
Yoongi gave him a look, eyes twinkling with amusement. “It’s like ninety degrees, hyung.”
Seokjin glared at him, cheeks darkening. “Fine, a cold drink then. Fuck off Yoongles.” And with that, he strode away, ducking inside the café. The table was silent for a long few moments before Taehyung let out a long, low whistle.
“Damn. Never would have pegged hyung for a panicked gay.”
Yoongi shrugged and sipped at his drink. “First time for everything then.”
Namjoon looked perplexed, eyes still on where Seokjin disappeared to. “Wait, what? What just happened?”
Jungkook grinned and clapped him on the back, hard enough for the older boy to make a soft ‘Oof!’ sound. “Congrats hyung, you always have all the luck with men.”
“What? What am I missing?”
“I’ll explain later, Joon-hyung.” Jimin cut in before Jungkook could reply, sending the delighted younger boy a scathing look until he was pouting and slumped in his chair. Namjoon simply looked confused. “Anyways—”
“Anygays.” Jungkook corrected under his breath petulantly. Jimin shot him another look before turning back to Nev and Max with a sweet smile.
“So, yeah. That’s why I couldn’t meet Taehyung-ah in November. Then the holidays happened, and dance season started again. It was honestly just a lot of missed opportunities because of work, school, and dance.” He looked at Taehyung then, something soft in his eyes. “I felt so guilty about it too, because he was always so patient and never pushed me. He’s the kindest boy I’ve ever met, and I’m lucky he put up with me for this long. Especially since my self-confidence was so low I wouldn’t even video chat him.”
“Though you are busy all the time Jimin-ah.” Namjoon’s voice was soft. “It wasn’t always your fault or a conscious decision to not chat.”
“I know, but still.” Jimin shrugged halfheartedly, eyes going to his hands twisting in his lap. Taehyung frowned, leaning over again to take the small hands in his, momentarily distracted by the softness of his skin before he glanced up with a smile.
“It doesn’t matter Jiminie.”
The older boy glanced back at him shyly through his bangs, biting his lower lip as he squeezed Taehyung’s hand. “I’m glad you’re here.”
Max clearing his throat had Taehyung sitting back with a flush, though he kept ahold of one of Jimin’s hands. “Another thought we had was Jungkook might have been pretending to be you to flirt with Taehyung.”
Jungkook’s face contorted, nose wrinkling. “No offense to hyung, but ew.”
Taehyung snorted. “Where wasn’t I supposed to take offense with that?”
“Don’t worry. It’s not you, it’s me.”
“I also thought you two might be dating when Jimin didn’t want to meet.” Nev admitted.
Jimin’s face twisted in disgust as he glanced to Jungkook, who looked like he swallowed something sour. “Oh gross. Gross, gross, gross. Me and Jimin-hyung?” The brunet shivered. “I might vomit.”
“Oh, shut up, you’re such an asshole Jeon.”
“What? Do you want me to find you attractive, cousin?”
Taehyung had been taking a sip of his melted, mildly disgusting boba tea, choking on it when Jungkook’s words registered. He was coughing hard enough to hack up a lung, eyes burning and watering as he leaned forward just as Seokjin returned with wide eyes. Max was there then, pounding on Taehyung’s back until he could clear his throat, mumbling a weak, “Thanks,” before he took a sip of water from the water bottle Seokjin offered him. Once his throat was clear and he could breath, he was a near blur as he turned to face Jimin, eyes narrowing accusatorily. “He’s your cousin?!”
Jimin’s smile was a bit too smug and amused for his liking. “Yes, he is. He’s my little brother’s age actually.”
Taehyung groaned, letting his head fall forward onto Jimin’s shaking shoulders, the blonde’s hand in front of his mouth to stifle his laughter. “You couldn’t have told me that so I’d stop acting like a jealous asshole?”
“I’m sorry, it’s just. . . you were so cute!” Jimin’s laughter was cut off by a surprised gasp, Taehyung’s fingers finding and squeezing a ticklish spot above his knee.
“You’re such a dick, Chim.” But it was said with no heat, just a resigned fondness as he let his eyes fall closed, one hand in Jimin’s and the other on a strong thigh. “So mean to me.”
“I’m sorry Taetae.” Amusement laced his words, a small hand coming up to card through dark strands.
“Wait, he was jealous of me? Dude.”
“Shut up Kookie, he’s had a rough day.” Jimin scolded, the motion pausing until Taehyung playfully bit the shoulder underneath his mouth. He got a small pop on the head for his efforts, but Jimin did resume the petting so he counted it as a win.
“Cute.” Seokjin smirked as he sat back down, barely glancing at Namjoon who eyed him curiously. “I think you owe Yoongi here an apology and a thank you, Tae.”
Sitting back up, Taehyung stuck his tongue out at the older boy. “No. He was no help.”
Nev was smiling as he leaned forward, arms braced on his elbows. “I mean, he did get you here.” He gestured to the group.
Jimin looked alarmed, turning to Taehyung curiously. “What does he mean?”
“He means that I’m the reason you dummies met.” Yoongi sounded put out, rolling his eyes as he stared at his phones screen, furiously texting someone (Taehyung would bet money it was Hoseok). “Taehyung sure as hell wasn’t doing anything to change that, and it doesn’t sound like you were either. I figured this way you wouldn’t be old and grey before you met.”
“I’ll never go grey, that’s why god invented hair dye.” Seokjin’s comment was an unnecessary one Taehyung chose to ignore.
“Wait so. . .” Jimin’s brow was furrowed, his lips pushed out in a pout as he thought, and the brunet had to resist the urge to kiss the frown away. “Taehyung. . . you didn’t write in to the show?”
He shook his head, smiling brightly. “No way. It was just as much a surprise for me as it was for you, and I was pissed. Yoongi-hyung was the one to contact them.”
Jimin’s cheeks reddened with realization, dropping Taehyung’s hand to cover his face with both hands, a soft groan leaving his lips. “Oh my god. I’m such an asshole!” He looked up quickly, brows bunched with a frown marring his face. “Why didn’t you correct me when I yelled at you?”
“He yelled at him?” Jungkook asked, glancing to Yoongi, who shrugged.
“You didn’t really give me the opportunity, fiery Jiminie.” Taehyung tone was teasing as he laughed softly. “You were kind of controlling the conversation.”
“God, I feel terrible! I’m so sorry!” The blonde brought his feet up on his chair, tucking his face into his knees as he made himself smaller. “I just assumed it was you!”
“It’s true that most of the people we help ask for it themselves, but it’s not uncommon for friends to ask for them. Sometimes it’s hard for people to admit they need a little help, and their friends are there for them.” Nev smiled warmly at Jimin, the blonde peeking out at him. “Don’t feel too bad. It doesn’t seem like Taehyung minds.”
Taehyung shook his head. “I don’t. What matters is we’re here now.”
“On that note.” Max stood, lifting the camera from the table. “Why don’t we let the boys spend some time together before we head back to Daegu in a couple of hours?”
“Sounds good to me. We’ll meet up at the train station later tonight? Say, a half hour before departure?” Nev asked as he stood too, lifting his coffee. The group gave their assent and the two American men made to leave, only stopped by Jimin’s small hand on Nev’s arm.
“Thank you. I know I didn’t make it easy for you guys, and I know I kind of screwed up filming by seeking Tae out separately, but thank you so much for bringing us together.”
“Thank you for being willing to do this. It was really nice to meet you, Jimin.” Nev held his arms out and Jimin leaned into the embrace, the hug short but saying more than Jimin could articulate. Taehyung watched with a smile as the blonde shook Max’s hand, bowing over their hands before letting the men be on their way.
“Jimin, why don’t you take Taehyung-ssi around town, show him the sights?” Namjoon suggested as he stood, ruffling Jungkook’s hair. “We can keep his friends’ company in the meantime, give you guys some time alone.”
“I’d like that. What do you say, Taetae?” Jimin looked to him, smile shy as he ran his fingers through his hair. Taking a deep breath to quell the butterflies set loose in his stomach, he nodded.
“Let’s do it.” Standing, he waved to his Hyungs, ignoring the smug look Yoongi sent him and Seokjin’s flirtatious wink. “I have my phone, call me if you guys need me?”
“Yeah. Hey Jimin?” Yoongi’s tone was serious as the blonde made eye contact with him, his countenance stern. “If you hurt him, I hurt you. Are we clear?”
Setting his jaw and nodding, Jimin met him look for look. “Crystal.”
Taehyung rolled his eyes and snagged Jimin by his hand, towing him towards the café doors, shooting his friends one final look over his shoulder. “Behave yourselves.”
“I wouldn’t even if I knew how.” Seokjin blowing him a kiss was the last thing he saw before the doors closed behind him. He huffed out a laugh, momentarily enjoying the cool air conditioning before they exited out onto the hot street again behind a small group of people. Busan Satoori was heavy in his ears, different from his own but still familiar enough to have him smiling.
“What do you want to do?” He tugged the blonde closer so they were side by side, Jimin leaning into him despite the heat.
“We’ve already been to the beach. . . and you walked through town earlier.” Jimin hummed softly as he thought, letting Taehyung swing their hands between them as he contemplated. “Unfortunately, there aren’t any festivals happening right now.”
“That sucks.” Taehyung replied cheerfully, glancing around him with interest, though his gaze was always drawn to the bright boy beside him. Jimin, as if sensing Taehyung’s gaze like a physical touch, turned to him, a mischievous twinkle in his eyes.
“My parents are at work and Jihyun is always out with friends. I could show you my room? If you want.” The question was playful, though there was a touch of vulnerability there, just under the surface.
Taehyung’s smile turned into a smirk as he stepped closer to the smaller boy, his hand coming up to tuck a stray strand behind Jimin’s ear. The blonde’s breath caught in his throat, eyes wide and dark. “Lead the way.”
* * *
When Taehyung had thought about entering Jimin’s room for the first time, he pictured taking the time to walk around and peek at the shelves, survey the clutter on the floor and desks, peek in his closet and see what type of clothing he favored. Maybe they’d spend time at the bookshelves, fingers lightly tracing spines as they quietly discussed their favorites with heads tucked close together to share the same space. They’d sit with space between each other on the bed, laptop between them as they tried to watch a movie, trying to pretend they weren’t just shuffling closer and closer. He pictured a lot of longing looks, shy gazes, timid smiles.
But Jimin pushing him onto the bed and straddling his lap was good too.
Jimin’s eyes seemed to burn into him, his gaze dark and intense, a dripping warmth he felt along his skin like hot candle wax, burning then rapidly cooling as they traced elsewhere along his overheated skin. His lungs suddenly felt too small, his chest heaving as Jimin’s mouth was on his again, his sinful tongue sliding into his mouth and invading his taste buds with the taste of espresso and something inherently Jimin, Taehyung moaning against his lips. Jimin smirked, tongue tracing his bottom lip before he was pulling back to nip along his jaw, leaving a trail of red and purple down the column of his throat as his hands slid along Taehyung’s chest.
“Fuck, Jimin.” Taehyung’s head hit the comforter, eyes closing tight as small hands found his belt and struggled to unclasp it. “Fuck, baby, wanted this for so long.” Jimin’s hands stuttered on his belt, freezing for a second while he huffed out a deep breath.
Dark eyes found his again, smoldering as the blonde sat back to perch in his lap again, lips red and swollen, hair a mess from Taehyung’s hands. “Tae, you can’t say things like that, not right now.”
Blinking in shock, Taehyung froze and held his breath, ice drenching his insides as the sudden urge to hide hit him. “Why not?” It came out as a whisper, nearly hoarse from a mix of arousal and sudden fear.
But Jimin’s smile settled something in his chest, all pretty teeth and lush lips as he leaned down until their lips brushed as he spoke. “Because when you say things like that. . . I want to absolutely wreck you.”
Taehyung’s eyes slid shut on a whine as he arched closer to the hands now sliding under his t-shirt, biting his lips at the feeling. He pressed up to land a kiss on those lips before hitting the mattress again, opening dazed eyes to meet Jimin’s gaze with a lazy smile. “So wreck me.”
Jimin made a cut off sound as he leaned down to connect their lips in a hungry, searching kiss, hands no longer playing around as he yanked his belt from his belt loops and tossed it somewhere behind him off the bed. Taehyung was just as frantic, his hands going to the buttons on Jimin’s shirt and shakily yanking them from their slots; he had the shirt halfway undone, Jimin’s tongue stroking along his own, when he pulled back enough to pant, “This okay? Jiminie, is this okay—”
“Fuck yes, Tae, please baby.” Jimin pulled back enough to groan, lips finding the sensitive spot beneath the brunet’s ear and making him nearly keen at the sensation as Jimin’s hot tongue swiped over the skin there. He resumed his frantic unbuttoning, letting out a soft sound of success as he shoved it from Jimin’s shoulders, revealing a buffet of bronzed skin. He ran his hands along the blonde’s pecs slowly, reveling in the soft skin as they dragged along tight abs and up an inked ribcage.
“You have a tattoo?” His voice was breathless as Jimin sucked a hickey under his jaw, small hands yanking up his shirt enough to duck down and tongue a dusky nipple. “Ah, fuck, that’s hot Jiminie. You’re so fucking ho—ah, shit!” His head slammed back against the mattress again as a deft hand cupped him through his jeans, heel grinding down on the head of his dick. “Jimin!”
“Mmm, that’s me.” Jimin sounded distracted as he laved Taehyung’s other nipple with attention, giving it a sharp bite before finally sitting up and forcing Taehyung up enough to yank the shirt off. His expression was wondering, his mouth dropping to form a plush little ‘O’ as his hands slid down Taehyung’s slender chest. “Shit Tae, you hide all this under those baggy clothes? That should be a crime.” Taehyung flushed at the attention, inwardly cursing his easy to color skin as he felt it travel down his chest, giving him a faintly pink glow. Jimin’s eyes just softened, endlessly dark as he leaned down to pepper kisses down the taller boy’s chest, chuckling when Taehyung’s hand latched to blonde locks when his nose brushed through a dark, sparse happy trail. He shuddered at the first feel of a tongue flicking along his hipbones, plush lips sucking in the divots as the button and zipper were undone. Thumbs hooked into the back of his jeans and he lifted his hips on instinct, moaning at the kiss Jimin pressed over the jeans right over his aching erection, painfully hard even though Jimin had barely touched him. “Sensitive, huh? Cute.”
The next gasp was nearly punched out of him, his chest hollowing as his neck arched off the bed, the feel of damp lips and an even damper tongue mouthing the outline of his hard cock over his underwear making him swear under his breath. Saliva created a wet spot on his boxers as Jimin teased him, breath hot through the material, Taehyung’s head spinning at the sensations. He risked opening his eyes, glancing to where Jimin knelt on the floor between his knees, small hands holding his hips down as his tongue ran up and through Taehyung’s happy trail. “Fuck.” He whispered, head falling back to the bed as Jimin giggled. “Jimin-ah, please.”
“Please what, Taehyungie?” There was amusement laced in his words, his Satoori strong and playful. Taehyung kicked his hips up noticeably, his large hand rucking blonde strands off Jimin’s forehead as he propped himself on an elbow, gaze heavy lidded as he slowly licked his lip. Jimin’s playful demeanor dropped, his mouth falling open slightly as he took in the sight of Taehyung spread across his bed.
“Stop teasing, Chim.” His voice was lower than normal, raspy, fucked out, and demanding. “I need you.”
Jimin considered him for a long moment, his chin dropping onto Taehyung’s thigh as he let out a shaky sigh. “Lord, save me.” It was whispered and needy, Taehyung barely able to chuckle before his boxers were yanked down enough that his cock sprang free, slapping wetly against his stomach. He hissed at the release of pressure, only to moan brokenly when Jimin grasped him and stroked him twice firmly before swallowing the head without hesitation. His mouth was wet and insanely hot, full lips soft where they dragged along his cock as he bobbed his head languidly.
Taehyung spared a moment to be thankful that Jimin’s family wasn’t home, unable to keep his mouth closed or his wanton moans to himself. Jimin seemed to thrive on it, mouth working harder against him with every gasping noise, bobbing and sucking, humming and lapping as Taehyung’s hips made shallow little thrusts up into his waiting mouth. He was so hard it hurt, breath catching in his throat every time the tip hit the back of Jimin’s throat, ragged moans dancing off his lips into the air around them. The heat in his body was moving lower, scorching a path through him as it concentrated in his abdomen, the wire thinning as Jimin suppressed his gag reflex and took him deeper. His hands were firm against Taehyung’s hips, squeezing tight, and for a moment Taehyung wished deliriously that his grip was tight enough to leave bruising, to remind him of this moment for days to come. The heat flared warningly and Taehyung let out a strangled cry, unable to move his hips back with the bed beneath him. “Ji-Jimin, I’m gonna—baby stop, I’m—”
Jimin pulled off with a lewd slurping sound, wiping at the drool and precome mixture dribbling down his chin, stroking him firmly before digging his thumb into Taehyung’s slit teasingly, smirking with half-mast eyes. “Then come.” And he swallowed him down again, ignore Taehyung’s faint protests as he bobbed his head. His breath was quickening, chest rising and falling rapidly as his hips gave little stuttered kicks as shocks of pleasure wound him up. It was Jimin’s soft moan around his cock as his hair was accidentally yanked that sent him over the edge, the white hot coil snapping and fire rushing through his veins, burning his body to ash as he came. His moan was a husky, choked off thing, Jimin’s name drenched in his native Satoori as the blonde swallowed around him, pulling back to suckle on the head as he stroked Taehyung through it; he only released the brunet when the hand in his hair was yanking him off and up, pulling him up and into a hot kiss.
Jimin tasted like coffee, Taehyung, and come, their tongues tangling as Taehyung huffed against his mouth, arms hooking under knees as he rolled them. Jimin let out a soft sound of surprise as his back met the mattress, eyes blown wide with arousal as Taehyung finally got his mouth on warm skin. His skin was salty, the dried sweat from earlier leaving a tang in his mouth that had him elated and wanting more as his mouth moved along Jimin’s delicate collarbones. He left a constellation of marks and bites across his bare chest and up along his neck, painting Jimin like a blank canvas with the colors of his want and desires, tonguing at his most sensitive spots as Jimin let out soft, breathy little moans. His hands went to the blonde’s pants making quick work of the clasps before dipping his hands under the material to get his hands on that perfect, plump ass and squeeze.
“Tae, fuck!” Jimin nearly yelped as Taehyung’s fingers brushed over the cleft of his ass, dipping teasingly close to his hole. “Please, please, please—”
“Tell me what you want Jimin-ah, I’ll give you anything.” He bit his lip at his own words, worried it was too much as he rested his forehead against Jimin’s shoulder.
But Jimin simply moaned and pushed back against his hands, cock rock hard against his thigh. “Please Tae, I want you, please fuck me. Need you in me, deep and hot and hard—” Taehyung nearly growled as he sat up, yanking at Jimin’s painted on jeans as the smaller boy threw himself onto his side and scrabbled for his nightstand drawer. He searched frantically, biting his lip as Taehyung pushed him until he was laying on his stomach, mouthing along his spinal cord as he searched. “Shit, Taehyung-ah, hold on a sec!” His frustration was growing as he searched for his lube, hips kicking into a large hand that cupped him as Taehyung tossed his jeans and briefs to the floor.
“Can’t wait, hurry up.” His voice was deep and growly, Jimin’s arms buckling as teeth nipped into the dimples at the base of his spine. “Fuck, how are you real? Look at this, dimples of Venus and Apollo’s belt, Greek gods got nothin’ on you Jiminie.” The blonde’s face and ears burned red as he ducked his head to laugh out loud, the sound embarrassed but pleased. Taehyung smiled against his skin, slowly licking a stripe along the dimples and pressing a kiss there. “God, you make me want to paint, to sculpt, to create something even half as beautiful as you. With you as my muse I swear I could create masterpieces, though nothing could ever compare to you.”
“Tae.” Jimin whined, hiding his face in the covers for a moment, shaking his head as his hand slid down to press Taehyung’s hand harder against his cock, spreading his knees and lifting his hips just slightly off the bed. The angle gave Taehyung the opportunity to wrap a hand around Jimin’s hard cock and lightly stroke, making soft, honey colored moans float through the air. “Please.” He begged softly; voice nearly obscured by the covers.
“What’s that? You want me to keep telling you how pretty you are? How beautiful you are beneath me right now? How your skin reminds me of the softest of silks, how your thighs are so thick all I can think about is sinking my teeth into them?” Taehyung lowered his voice to a purr, his hand moving slow and steady as Jimin panted and whimpered. “Want me to tell you how rosy and perfect you look spread out like this, how the sounds you’re making are driving me crazy? Just look at you, what a good boy for me.” Jimin gasped and Taehyung smirked. “Oh, you like that, huh? Like when I call you a good boy? Do you like being good for me, Jiminie?”
“Yes—want to. . . want to be good for you Tae!” Jimin moaned lowly, fingers clenching in the covers. Taehyung moved to drape himself over Jimin’s back, the rough material of his jeans pressing against Jimin’s bare ass making the older boy’s breath catch as Taehyung’s lips landed behind his ear. His free hand reached out for the drawer, rummaging as he whispered dirty compliments into the blonde’s ear.
“You’re doing so good baby boy, look at you. You’re fucking gorgeous, and that ass. . . I can’t wait to be buried deep in you. Do you think I could make you cry? Want me to try?”
“You’re so—big Tae-yah, please!” Jimin ground back against him, Taehyung’s reawakened cock sensitive but he welcomed the overstimulation, heat coursing through him as he finally located the lube and a condom, tossing the them on the bed as he trailed his lips down Jimin’s back once again. The older boy’s hips were working against the covers, soft moans leaving his lips as he released the pressure and Taehyung couldn’t resist bringing his hand down on his ass. The blonde jolted at the contact, moaning even as the skin turned red under Taehyung’s hand. “Oh please, please Tae—” Another slap to his ass had him crying out, eyes squeezing shut on a gasp, the brunet admiring the large hand prints left behind.
“You kinky fuck.” Taehyung’s laugh was loud and warm as he leaned down to soothe the hurt with his tongue. The blonde pressed back against his mouth, whimpered as he buried his face back into the covers. Taehyung pulled back after dropping one more kiss to a glowing cheek, reaching for the lube as he chuckled under his breath. “Oh, we’re gonna have so much fun together Jiminie.” The blonde managed a startled laugh and a flirty glance over his shoulder before a lubed up finger pressing against his rim had him melting back into the mattress. The first finger slide in easier than he expected, thick eyebrow raising in surprise as Jimin pushed back on the long digit with a moan.
“O-Oh, Tae. . . Holy shit, your fingers are so long.” Jimin gasped out as the brunet took his time pumping the finger in and out, reaching deeper than Jimin’s own fingers could. The younger boy bit his lip to hold in the groan threatening to spill forth, Jimin hot and clenching around his fingers as he slid in the second.
“So. . . wanna tell me why this is so easy, hmm?” Taehyung draped himself across Jimin again, gripping his hair to crane his neck back and lay wet kisses along the skin there as his fingers worked the older boy open for him. Jimin’s lip was clenched between his teeth, his breathing rapid as he pushed back into Taehyung’s bigger body. He shook his head minutely, whining when the motion tugged on his hair. Taehyung laughed darkly under his breath, nipping the skin under his ear. “Tell me Jimin-ah, did you play with yourself before coming to see me? Finger yourself open and fuck yourself imagining it was me? Tell me.”
“Yes, I did—" Jimin was panting, hips circling as Taehyung added a third finger, groaning lowly as the younger boy’s teeth sunk into his neck.
“Couldn’t wait, could you? What did you imagine, hmm? How did you imagine this?” When Jimin didn’t respond right away, Taehyung growled lowly, thrusting his fingers in harder and hitting his prostate dead on. The blonde’s cry rang through the room, echoing off the walls as his legs spread wider to lift his hips and force the fingers deeper. “Is this what you wanted Jiminie? Did you want me to take you from behind, use you for my pleasure?” The next moan came out on a sob with the shake of his head, Jimin angling his neck to the side so Taehyung could mark it up. “No? Then did you want to ride me? Fuck yourself dumb on my cock?” He braced himself up enough to get a hand around Jimin’s erection, stroking it slowly as he pumped his fingers, lips dragging along sweat slick skin. Jimin’s gasps were loud in the room, the wet squelching of Taehyung’s hands obscene and making the brunet rut against Jimin’s thigh. “Or did you want to face me? Watch as I pound you into the mattress until you can’t walk tomorrow?”
The blonde sobbed, trembling under him as he gasped, thrusting into Taehyung’s hand only to fuck back on his fingers. “Yes, yes, yes, please Taehyungie, please fuck me! Just like that, please!” Desperation made his begging that much sweeter in Taehyung’s ears, a wicked smile curling his lips.
“How cute.” He cooed playfully, nipping at the skin under his lips. “Baby begs so pretty, wants to be fucked like a pillow prince. Just wanna sit back and take it, make me do all the work, huh? Want me to hold you down and fuck you until you’re drooling and stupid on my cock?” Jimin was nodding his head vigorously, body flushed with arousal and body trembling; he knew the older boy was close and it was with pleasure that he removed his fingers and gripped the base of Jimin’s cock, halting the impending orgasm. The blonde was in tears as he flipped him over, shedding his remaining clothing before he lifted Jimin’s legs to curl around his waist, the thick muscles shaking with exertion as he tore the condom open with his teeth. “Ready for me, baby?”
Jimin’s chest was heaving, his cheeks ruddy and eyes wet with tears as he nodded. “Yes, god yes, please Taetae—”
“Good boy.” Taehyung smirked down at him before leaning down to kiss him roughly, the blonde’s arms going around his neck and clinging to him, tongues tangling and small hands clutching brunet strands as he breached the older boy’s body in one slow movement. Jimin’s mouth fell open on a long, drawn out moan, his head thrown back as Taehyung seated himself fully. Taehyung was breathing hard as he let his forehead rest below the blonde’s chin, giving the older boy time to adjust to his girth and himself time to calm the hell down and not explode right then. His cock was oversensitive, Jimin surrounding him almost overstimulation, a painful pleasure he craved; and he was tight and hot around him, muscles clenching and releasing as he adjusted, chests rising and falling against each other.
“Move.” His voice was hoarse and raspy, deeper than normal. His legs wrapped tighter around Taehyung, pulling the bigger boy’s body closer and forcing him deeper, drawing twin moans from their mouths. “Tae, Tae, please move, please—” Without another thought, Taehyung pulled back to the tip before snapping his hips back in, punching the air from Jimin’s lungs in a sweet cry. It only took a few moments for him to find his pace, thrusts hard and precise as he searched for Jimin’s prostate, lip bitten in concentration and brunet strands plastered over his headband and across his forehead. Jimin’s lashes were clumped together wetly, eyes half closed and mouth open as Taehyung pounded relentlessly into him, hips working to meet every thrust. It was obvious when he found it, that sweet spot that had the smaller boy’s back bowing and mouth opening in silent screams.
“Fuck Jimin-ah, so tight. . .” Taehyung groaned lowly, bowing his head down to steal a kiss from half open lips, licking inside and feeling Jimin’s cock kick at the praise. He chuckled breathlessly, leaning back despite the blonde’s whining, Jimin’s nails leaving scratches down his shoulder blades. “Let’s see how flexible you are, yeah?” He pulled one of Jimin’s slender legs from around his waist, throwing it over his shoulder and leaning forward, nearly bending the smaller boy in half as he fucked back in, both moaning loudly at the brand new angle. Taehyung had to bite the thigh beside his face to keep from groaning aloud at how Jimin didn’t even flinch at the new position, body easily accommodating him. “That’s so hot Jiminie, oh my god.”
“Tae, please, I need to come! I’m so close—” Jimin was cut off by a sharp cry as Taehyung grasped his neglected cock in hand and stroked him rapidly, feeling his own orgasm building in his gut.
“Come baby, come for me. You’ve been such a good boy.” He was close, unbearably close, and he could tell by the way Jimin’s inner walls fluttered around him that the other boy was right at the edge too, his face scrunched up and blissed out. He moved with renewed vigor, a last burst of energy that had Jimin nearly singing as he came hard across his stomach, white ropes of cum decorating his chest; his head was thrown back, face radiant with his pleasure, a halo of blonde on the blankets beneath him, tears rolling down into his hairline.
“Taehyung.” The soft, broken whisper of his name was what did it, his orgasm hitting him like a tidal wave; he was bent nearly in half by it, mouth falling open as his breath caught, hips stuttering into Jimin as he rode out his orgasm. The blonde held him close, whimpering and whispering soft praises as it ended, the brunet collapsing on top of him with a low groan.
The room was silent for a long few moments while Taehyung attempted to piece his consciousness back together, mind hazy and fucked out as they gasped for breath. Once his heartbeat had slowed and ringing in his ears ceased, he slowly sat up, gently pulling out and removing the condom, tying it off and tossing it into the trash beside the bed. Jimin sat up slowly, moving gingerly as he reached for an abandoned towel on the floor, wiping it over his abs and chest before carefully cleaning between his legs, making a face at the mess of cum and lube. Taehyung watched him carefully, eyeing the way the smaller boy moved before he slumped back onto the bed.
Jimin was the first to break the silence. “Holy fuck.” And then they were laughing, loudly and without reservation, Taehyung landing on the bed beside Jimin and catching him as he nearly laughed himself over the edge. It took a few moments for them to calm, only to be set off again when they made eye contact. Jimin was still giggling as he rolled over and plastered his front against Taehyung’s side, slinging an arm around the brunet’s waist. “That was. . .”
“Fantastic? Astounding? Transcendent?” Taehyung offered as he freed his arm from between his side and Jimin to wrap around the smaller boy’s shoulders, gently stroking sweaty locks. He earned a giggle for his teasing, Jimin laying a sweet kiss against his pulse point.
“All of the above.”
“I thought so too. That’s the most fun I’ve had in bed. . . ever, probably.” Taehyung admitted, reaching down to pull one of Jimin’s legs between his, fitting them together like puzzle pieces. The blonde hummed softly, nuzzling closer. “Only now you’re stuck for at least thirty minutes, I demand postcoital cuddles.” He announced playfully, his hand running lightly up and down the muscular thigh.
Jimin giggled manically, burying his face in Taehyung’s neck. “Oh my god, who says that?”
“Me, Kim Taehyung.”
“Well Kim Taehyung, you’re lucky you’re cute.”
Taehyung grinned, big and boxy as Jimin glanced up at him. “And my stroke game is on point, right?” Jimin just laughed and reburied his face, pulling Taehyung closer and kissing the skin beneath his lips, smiling.
* * *
In the end, it was Yoongi’s phone call that reminded Taehyung of his departure. They’d napped for an hour in Jimin’s bed, wrapped up in each other, before the blonde awoke and announced that it was shower time. They spent much longer then they meant to in there, an innocent shower and washing each other’s hair turning into Jimin proving his strength by holding Taehyung up against the wall and fucking him until he was hoarse. They’d just gotten out of the shower and redressed when Yoongi had called, asking him where the hell he was; the scramble for the train station was hectic, Taehyung racing around Jimin’s room in search of his accessories and shoes, the two barely making it to the station on time. Seokjin’s teasing had been insufferable, jokes about the mosquitos in Busan and sudden rain showers, all while Jungkook, Namjoon, and Yoongi laughed in the background.
There were only minutes before they had to board, and the others had bid their goodbyes, leaving Taehyung standing on the platform with Jimin across from him, the blonde’s fingers twisting together nervously. “So.” Jimin started, only to fall silent, rucking his damp hair off his forehead with a sigh.
“So.” Taehyung parroted, smiling as the other boy avoided his gaze.
“This is it, huh?” Jimin chanced a look up, only to look away again before Taehyung could catch his gaze. “I. . . I had fun. And I’m really glad we finally got to meet.”
“Why do you say that like this is the end? It’s not baby, I promise.” Taehyung reached out tentatively, taking Jimin’s smaller hands in his and intertwining their fingers. He frowned when Jimin’s eyes stayed glued to the floor. “Jimin-ah, look at me?” It took a few moments before he finally obeyed, expression closed off. Taehyung’s heart beat picked up speed, his breathing unsteady. “Do you. . . do you not want to see me again?”
“What? No!” Seeing Taehyung’s crestfallen face, Jimin scrambled to correct himself, eyes wide with fear. “Wait, wait, I mean want to see you again! I want to see you all the time, Taetae!”
The fear was gone as quick as it came, Taehyung’s smile bright. “Yeah?”
"Yeah.” Taking a step closer, Jimin smiled shyly up at him. “I’ll be back in Seoul in a few weeks, once school starts again.”
“Funny, me too.”
Taehyung released one of Jimin’s hands to bring it up to cup a rosy cheek. “So, I’ll see you then?”
Jimin bit his lip, eyes surveying Taehyung’s face for a few long moments before he was shaking his head. “Come back here. In two weeks, there’s this festival. Come be my date. We can spend the weekend together.”
Taehyung’s smile got impossibly brighter. “I’d like that.”
“And I’ll call you.”
The brunet’s smile turned cheeky as he leaned in teasingly. “How about facetime? Or skype?”
Jimin huffed out a laugh, resting his forehead on Taehyung’s collarbone. “Yeah. Anything you want. I want that too.”
“Good.” Taehyung let Jimin’s other hand go to cup his face gently in his hands, leaning down to place a long, slow kiss against those plush lips, savoring the feel of their imprint on his. Jimin kissed back just as carefully, only moving to deepen the kiss when Taehyung’s lips parted imperceptibly, both sighing softly against each other’s mouths.
“Taehyung! The train’s leaving!” Yoongi’s voice called from the open door of the train, Taehyung barely sparing him a glance as he leaned down to steal another sweet kiss from Jimin’s plush lips. Jimin was smiling against his mouth, soft giggles tumbling out in the space between them at the end of every kiss.
“Quit kissing lover boy and let’s go!” Seokjin hollered. There was a hand on the back of his t-shirt collar then, latching on and tugging him backward. He made an undignified sound as he stumbled, glaring at the older boy as Seokjin tugged him towards the train, waving to Jimin. “Bye Jimin, nice to meet you! Come to Daegu, let hyung buy you food!”
“Hyung!” Taehyung groused, finally shaking the snickering older boy off and glancing back to meet Jimin’s warm gaze. He stood frozen for a long moment before he was swooping forward and snatching Jimin up in his arms; he caught him around his waist, lifting him up into a hard hug as he spun them around a few times until Jimin was laughing. He grinned as he set the older boy back on his feet, drinking in his warmth and the feel of small hands on his shoulder blades, the smell of his coconut conditioner and the soft silk of his hair against his cheek. He took one more long moment to just close his eyes and hold the blonde, to assure himself that this was real, that this was Jimin held tight in his arms.
“This isn’t goodbye Tae, I promise.” The reassurance was soft, words pressed into the skin of his neck as Jimin seemed to hold him just as tight. “I’ll see you here in two weeks?”
“Yeah. Come see me in Daegu? I can show you the strawberry fields, take you down to the pond to swim. It’ll be fun.”
“I definitely don’t want to miss my country boy in action. Think you could toss me around like one of your hay bales?” Jimin was teasing as he pulled back, eyes impossibly fond and lips quirked into the sweetest smile.
Taehyung just laughed, eyes scrunching up and smile boxy as he shook his head. “You’re something else.”
“You like it, boyfriend.” There was heat to his cheeks as Jimin’s small hands reached up to cup his neck and pull him down enough to connect their lips in one more kiss before shooing Taehyung towards the train. “Now go. And call me when you get home.”
“Bossy. I like it.” Taehyung snickered at Jimin’s eyeroll, walking backwards towards the train. “Talk soon, Jimin-ah.”
“Looking forward to it, Taehyung-ah.” Jimin’s bright smile scrunching up his eyes and puffing out his cheeks, looking absolutely stunning as he waved goodbye was the last thing he saw as the train doors closed in front of him.
The train was moving seconds late and Taehyung sighed, loud and dramatically as he fell back against Yoongi’s smaller frame, the mint haired boy groaning in complaint and stumbling under his weight. He placed a hand over his heart and the other against his forehead, eyes sliding shut as he went limp, the smaller boy struggling to hold him up and cursing him under his breath. Seokjin surveyed him, eyebrows raised as he took in Taehyung’s defeated form before sighing and shaking his head. “Oh hell. He’s in love.”
Taehyung could only laugh giddily, even as Yoongi moved and dropped his ass to the train floor.
* * *
Two Months Later. . .
The video feed was dark as the page loaded, Taehyung shifting impatiently in front of the computer screen as he ran a hand through his blonde locks. His tan was deeper as summer ended, making the blonde practically shine like a beacon in the dark (Yoongi said it was obnoxious, but he was smiling as he said it so Taehyung counted it as a win). The feed finally blinked to life, his boxy smile reappearing on his face as he took in the sights of Nev and Max through his crappy video connection. “Hi guys!”
“Taehyung!” Nev crowed excitedly. “Look at you, blonde? Looking good man!”
Laughter bubbled up and Taehyung coyly swatted at the camera, winking. “Oh, stop it you!”
“How are you doing? How are things?” Max leaned forward, nudging Nev playfully out of the way.
“Things are great! Summer’s nearly over and my classes start up again soon, so I’m chatting with you via my shitty Seoul apartment!” He gestured around him, angling the screen to show the view of the city outside his window.
“You’re so tan!”
“I spent a lot of time outdoors this summer.” Taehyung scratched his nose, laughing softly. “Grandma kept yelling at me for forgetting sunscreen.”
“How are Yoongi and Seokjin?” Nev asked politely, though he seemed genuinely interested. Taehyung knew for a fact he was friends with Seokjin on Facebook, and Yoongi and Max tweeted at each other occasionally, but he figured he’d answer as if he didn’t know that for the show’s wrap ups sake.
“They’re good. Seokjin-hyung signed a modeling contract with a big company—big surprise there, right?—and he’s currently trying to court Namjoon-hyung and failing miserably. Though I think Namjoon-hyung would say yes if he’d just ask him out like a normal person already.” He shrugged and grinned. “Yoongi-hyung and Hoseok-hyung are inseparable as always, I’m sorry you guys didn’t get to meet him! Jungkookie is doing well, we’ve started playing games together, and I hate to admit that he kicks my ass more than is respectable. We’re pretty good friends now.” His laugh was light and happy as he settled back in his chair.
“That’s great! Now for the important question: How’s Jimin? Are you two still a thing?” Max asked, eyes alight with mirth as both he and Nev settled closer to the screen, eagerly awaiting his answer. Taehyung laughed and glanced to his right.
“Why don’t you ask Jimin-ah himself?” There was a rustle of movement across the screen as Jimin came into the frame, sitting himself sideways on Taehyung’s lap and curling an arm around his neck. His hair was a deep orange now, cascading back from his forehead and brilliantly bright against the stark black of his clothing, his smile shining as he wiggled his fingers at the screen, leaning in to press a kiss to the apple of Taehyung’s cheek. The blonde flushed, ears pinking as he enjoyed the affection, Max and Nev laughing over the feed. “So Jimin-ah, are we still a thing?”
“I decided to keep him against my better judgement.” Jimin confirmed playfully, turning to the webcam. “Hi Max, hi Nev!”
“Hi Jimin.” Nev called back, waving excitedly. “You two make such a cute couple! Catch us up on what’s happened over the last two months, we’re dying to know!”
“So, after you guys left, Jiminie and I spoke on the phone all the time, and we started video chatting. We honestly never stopped talking.”
“And then Taehyung-ah came out to Busan for the summer festival and stayed with my family—they adore him, by the way. More than they like me, I think.” Taehyung’s laughter burst out of him, burying his face in Jimin’s shoulder. “We spent a long weekend together, and then I went back to Daegu with him!” Jimin’s ears were pink as he grinned down at Taehyung from his perch on his lap. “I wasn’t ready for our time to end.”
“And that’s how we spent the summer. Pretty much going back and forth until we had to get ready for school and Jimin-ah had to get ready for dance.”
“How’s that going, by the way? We know you were struggling with some personal stuff regarding dance. Is that any better now?” Nev asked carefully, seeming hesitant to ask, but Jimin just smiled.
“Things have gotten a lot better. I still have bad days, but now I have Tae to pull me out of my moods. He reminds me that I’m human and it’s okay to make mistakes, that it’s okay to not be perfect.”
“Well, I mean, you’re pretty perfect though.” Taehyung laughed when Jimin rolled his eyes fondly at him, his cheesiness earning him a kiss to his temple.
“Charmer.” Turning back to the camera, Jimin’s smile turned shy and soft. “Taehyung’s. . . perfect for me. So incredibly kind, smart, gentle hearted. He’s stubborn and won’t let me dwell on the things that bother me, and he’s always there when I need him.”
Max’s smile was teasing as he glanced between the two. “So, have you said those three little words yet? I know you hadn’t before our trip to Busan. Have things changed?”
“I tell him I love him every day.” Jimin leaned down, pressing his forehead to Taehyung’s and smiling softly. “Taetae’s the best thing to ever happen to me.”
“Mmmm, I feel the same.” Taehyung gave him an eskimo kiss before turning to the camera with a sappy, lovesick grin. “Thank you guys, for helping us come together finally.”
“We’re glad things worked out.” Max replied with a smile. Nev nodded.
“You two make such a cute couple. I hope you stay as happy as you are right now.”
Taehyung laughed and squeezed Jimin tighter, closer to him. “We will. Thanks guys.”
“For everything.” Jimin added, resting his head against Taehyung’s.
“I’m glad we could help, and I’m ecstatic that you guys are together! Thanks for the check in.” Nev said, a smile breaking out across his face as he and Max waved at the screen. “Bye guys!”
The screen went dark after they parroted their goodbyes, Jimin leaning heavily against his boyfriend and letting his eyes slide closed. Taehyung’s smile was soft and secret, gently tugging on Jimin’s hand until he could tangle their fingers together again. “Hey, Jiminie?”
“Let’s keep going for a long time.”
Jimin’s smile was effervescent in the light of the setting sun, the orange and pinks bleeding across his features as he leaned in. “Sounds good to me.” And then they were kissing.