“i'm turning out the lights
to remember how to see
until a renaissance takes place
and resuscitates the color of paint and divinity”
A word that feels foreign on Taehyung’s tongue.
It's been years since he hasn't come back to the place he used to live... before his sudden death.
His soul has been wandering, hoping to find a reason to be grateful for becoming a ghost.
Yet, he hasn't found one. Instead, it's a deep, painful hole that's been carving into his heart, the one previously filled by his friends, family and his home.
A small, cozy loft in a peaceful neighborhood. He isn't sure he remembers how every corner looked like, but he does remember the warmth and relief he felt every time he walked inside.
He wishes he could feel it again, hopes time and dust didn't drastically change or take away the beauty of this place.
The studio is situated in an old, quaint building. Taehyung remembers the way the wooden stairs would creak under his feet. Light cracks the days he would come home late. Heavy, almost threatening ones whenever he would wake up way after his alarm clock. The memory has his lips twitch in an amused smile. He recalls the numerous times he would run down the stairs, jacket barely draping over his shoulders and car keys swinging in his hand.
He was happy. Biting every single piece of that life, no matter how hard it became sometimes. He was alive, and thankful for it.
With the pad of his fingers, Taehyung hovers over the damaged guardrail of the building that was once familiar to him. For the first time in years, he’s back to the place he spent the last part of his life. His heart, although not beating anymore, seems to be wrapped in a comforting warmth when he still recognizes the scent filling the highest floor, the one he previously lived in. The corridor leading to the only apartment on this floor is narrow, barely able to fit two people. Despite the place being so small, it was more than enough for Taehyung. It held such a sentimental value to him; it reminded him of his first day living alone, his first day inviting friends home, his first day cooking by himself.
Taehyung doesn’t rknow what to expect once he walks through the door he’s now standing in front of. Does he expect to see his loft the way he left it, years ago? Does he expect to see his pictures hanging on the walls? The rug lying in front of the sofa he himself installed inside?
Swallowing almost nervously, Taehyung closes his eyes before he walks through the closed door, his body easily going through the wooden surface. What he finds inside has him freezing, wide eyes scanning the place. If his heart was still beating, he would probably feel it jump to his throat.
The place drastically changed, and it seems way emptier. The walls are decorated with a multitude of blank and painted canvas. The cold, wooden floor is stripped from the rug Taehyung had put and has some splatters of paint here and there. An easel is placed near the window on the opposite side of the door he just came through, and behind it stands a man with brown, disheveled hair and dark clothes covered in vivid, fresh colors.
Probably the new tenant, Taehyung thinks when he decides to take a few steps forward to peek at the canvas on which the young man is painting... until a loud shriek surprises them both.
“Who are you!?” The man suddenly yelps, the wooden palette slipping from his hands, resulting in his own bare feet being covered in a mixture of fresh paint.
Taehyung, however, doesn’t immediately answer. He’s blinking a couple of times, trying to process the fact that the man in front of him is looking at him... in his eyes.
That’s not possible.
Closing his fingers tighter around the handle of the brush, the painter holds the palette in front of him in an attempt to shield himself and warn Taehyung to not come any closer. “I’m asking you again, who are you and how did you come here?!”
“I’m...” Taehyung starts, eyes darting from the brush to the dazed and mostly scared look on the man’s face. “You can see me?”
Confusion washes over the artist's face at the question, lips slightly parted as he seems to look for his words. “What... What do you mean I can see you?”
“You’re not supposed to see me. You’re human. I’m a ghost.” The words stumble from Taehyung’s mouth before he hears a breathless laugh of disbelief. Damn. Good job, Taehyung.
“A ghost?” The man echoes in a tone that clearly indicates he isn’t convinced. Actually, he doesn’t even seem consider the existence of such form. However, the fear in his eyes seems to wash away, probably sensing that Taehyung isn’t here to hurt him.
That’s a relief.
“Yes. I just wanted to—”
“Do I really look that naive?”
Taehyung brings his lips together, eyebrows raised. “Excuse me?”
“You really expect me to believe you’re not human?”
“Well, that but I’m also Kim Taehyung,” Taehyung grins, satisfied with his witty retort despite the situation.
The man blinks a few times, processing the joke with a shake of his head and trying to hide a smile that Taehyung catches.
Oh, how pretty.
“And apparently you’re...” Taehyung starts, eyes wandering to try catching the signature at the bottom of the canvas scattered on the ground.
“Human,” the man simply responds, easily swept along by Taehyung’s enthusiasm.
“And you’re also Jimin,” Taehyung reads under a self-portrait, “that’s a pretty name.”
Jimin brings his hand down, slightly bending his knees to place the brush on the ground and at the same time, turn the palette over so the paint wouldn’t stain the wooden floor.
At the back of his mind, Taehyung finds himself entranced by Jimin and the way he delicately handled his art supplies despite the messy state of the loft. Jimin has probably spent hours focused on the same work to the point where he forgot about his surroundings.
Jimin quirks an eyebrow and crosses his arms. “Are you just going to stare at me and not explain how and why you came here?”
Jumping out of his thoughts, Taehyung shakes his head vigorously. He points at the door behind him, thumb above his shoulder, and answers in the most nonchalant way, “I walked through the door.”
As if it was an everyday thing.
Well, it was. For him.
Jimin doesn’t buy that. To be frank, he doesn’t seem like he's believing one word coming out of Taehyung’s mouth ever since he arrived. Probably not even his name. “Sure, Mr. Ghost.” Touché. “You’re going to tell me you also left your shoes behind the door because you wanted to be respectful?”
Following the path Jimin’s eyes trace, Taehyung looks at his bare feet. He doesn’t even remember when he took off his shoes, but now he understands why he felt a strange, wet substance under his soles as he walked through the loft. “A habit, most probably. I’ve always taken my shoes off before coming here. This...” he pauses, looking around him until his attention drifts back to Jimin. “This place. It’s my home. I mean— it was my home,” he corrects himself, almost painfully.
Taehyung expects Jimin to laugh at him, or even try to kick him out of the loft. However, his words have Taehyung’s eyes widening in surprise.
“I heard about the previous tenant never coming back here... after an accident,” Jimin explains with a small voice before he walks away from the easel towards the desk set against the wall, scattered with art tools and papers of all kinds. White, brown, thick and thin, grained and not. Two pens roll down the table when Jimin pulls one of the drawers open, not even bothering to pick them up, probably way too used to that. "You didn't have to break into my studio if you wanted to retrieve this."
"Uh?" Taehyung is confused. He hesitantly joins Jimin, head tilted to the side with curiosity as he tries to guess what Jimin is searching for. "I didn't break into—"
"This is what you're searching for, right?" Jimin is holding a small camera; an old Leica. Taehyung's first and most valuable gift from his father. "I'm sorry, I'm not sure if it still works but, that was the only thing they left here after emptying the studio. Did you know the person that lived here before?"
His eyes are on the camera despite Jimin's attention being turned towards him again. Taehyung is silent; he's lost in his own world, desperately searching for the memories that struggle to come back.
"Hey?" Jimin tries again, gently.
When Taehyung finally looks up, he finds Jimin looking at him with a somewhat worried expression, extended arm offering him the Leica.
"It was me," the words come out as a whisper, "I was the one living here. This camera was a gift to me... I'm thankful that you kept it, I really am and I didn't expect this much from the person who'd live here after me but... I can't take it."
A short silence settles between them. Jimin's eyebrows are drawn together and Taehyung can see the curiosity in Jimin's tired eyes; the want to understand what exactly is going on, but somehow not wanting to question it at the same time.
"You don't believe me, do you?"
"I don't," Jimin breathes out. His voice comes out shaky and that immediately alarms Taehyung. "If you're not here for this, then please leave."
"I came here to see how much my home has changed. Seeing the camera I saved so many memories with makes me happy, it really does—"
"Then why don't you take it?"
"I can't." Taehyung's honest answer seems to startle Jimin since, without realizing, his voice came out louder than he intended. Toning it down, Taehyung gently repeats, "I physically can't."
"I don't believe in ghosts. I never did." Jimin grips the camera tighter with his fingers and cradles it protectively to his chest. Taehyung wonders if that gesture brings some kind of comfort to him. "Those stories about how people die suddenly and keep wandering among us... I don't believe in them."
Taehyung can't blame him. While some people fervently defend that spirits and even demons exist, most of them refuse to believe ghosts do.
"You don't believe me?" Taehyung tries when he slowly lifts his arm. Eyes set on Jimin's face, he analyzes his reaction, looking for any sign of discomfort. When he doesn't sense any, Taehyung spreads his fingers and brings them closer to the camera as if he's trying to take it away from Jimin's hold. However... his fingers simply run through it. As if he's just an illusion. As if he doesn't exist.
"You don't believe in this?" Taehyung asks again.
Jimin is frozen. He watches with wide eyes the strange phenomenon he's most probably heard about and seen described in supernatural books, one that he doesn't seem to have ever paid attention to until today, judging by his reaction and the time it takes him to collect himself.
"It's... not true," Jimin blurts out.
Taehyung knows he can't laugh in such a situation, but the barely audible chuckle still slips past his lips. Jimin looks scared, lost but certainly fascinated too.
"It's cool, isn't it?"
Taehyung's bubbly laugh fills the room. He can't deny that Jimin's honesty is such an endearing trait that adds to his quiet personality.
As if something suddenly sparks inside him, Jimin hastily places the camera back into the drawer, an apologetic gaze now avoiding Taehyung's. "I'm sorry for... this."
"You don't have to be sorry." Taehyung's face lights up with a wide, boxy smile. He can feel the atmosphere growing lighter, warmer as the conversation flows more easily between them, despite how Jimin doesn't seem to be that much of a talkative person. Not that Taehyung minds. He has always been used to talking for two. "I'm actually relieved this loft hasn't been abandoned. It meant a lot to me and I can see that it has become a big part of your life, too..."
Jimin looks around, absentmindedly nodding. He can't deny it when every corner of the studio is occupied by tools, furniture, or anything even remotely related to art. Most probably his full-time job, Taehyung supposes.
"I think that's why you can see me. This place might be what allows us to talk to each other." Taehyung's explanation seems to make sense to Jimin who nods almost too seriously.
"What? What's so funny?"
Taehyung shakes his head, pressing his lips together to prevent the laugh from bursting out. "It's nothing."
Yeah, Jimin didn't buy that either.
With a sigh, Jimin moves back to the center of the studio, careful about not stepping on his dried papers. His movements are so careful and practiced that it almost looks like a dance, and Taehyung finds his lips pull up at the thought.
“You can sit...” Jimin pauses to motion towards the two cushions placed on the ground, “here.”
With a nod, Taehyung sits down in front of Jimin, crossing his legs. “Weren’t you working on something? I saw you paint on that canvas over there when I arrived.”
Looking back towards the easel he was previously standing next to, Jimin nods.
Another silent answer.
“I loved painting too,” Taehyung confesses in an enthusiastic tone. "Not that I was great by any means, it just became an activity I enjoyed doing from time to time. As a distraction, or to ease an anxious mind." He watches the way Jimin’s shoulders relax, his breathing slowing down as he lets Taehyung guide the conversation. “It seems you turned your passion into a living, that’s admirable.”
Taehyung smiles. While he kept rambling without any notion of the time, Jimin stuck with short answers.
Taehyung found out that talking about art, most specifically Impressionist artists, seem to lighten Jimin’s eyes with interest. They didn’t mention either of their lives anymore, and somehow, they felt comfortable enough to part with a promise to see each other again.
⏤ ☘ ⏤
A few days pass before Taehyung works up the courage to come back into Jimin’s studio. He has never been much of a shy, hesitant person. But somehow, with Jimin, he didn’t want to seem insistent. The contrast between their personalities is something new to Taehyung and the desire to see Jimin grow comfortable enough to offer him his biggest smile is what makes Taehyung so patient.
For the first time in years, Taehyung feels nervous to enter his own home, —or should he say, his previous home—. He’s standing in front of the door as if he’s waiting for someone to hear his silent knocks against the wooden surface and open the door for him.
Where is the confident, assertive Taehyung who takes the hand of a stranger and swings them around at a party?
A deep breath makes his chest rise before he’s walking into the studio. He doesn’t know what he should expect, this time. Does he expect to see Jimin waiting for him next to a new canvas? Does he expect Jimin to already be fast asleep at midnight?
“Jimin?” Taehyung calls at the realization that the ripped papers on the ground are none other than the multitude attempts at finding a suitable result. Yet, still no trace of Jimin himself. “Jimin!” He calls louder this time when he hears quiet sobs coming from the only closed space in the studio.
Something inside of Taehyung flashes. In a second, he’s rushing towards the sound, running through the bathroom’s door.
There he is.
Sitting next to the sink with his arms wrapped around his legs that are drawn up against his chest, Jimin is crying. His face is hidden behind his knees and his shoulders keep shaking from the tremors racking his body. Taehyung’s eyes are wide, full of worry as he immediately crouches in front of Jimin.
There is, however, not a single word he can think of to reassure the boy he just met for the second time in a few days. The phone by Jimin’s feet suggests that the reason for his distress is probably the news, —bad news— he didn’t expect to receive.
Taehyung doesn’t question it. He sits down, close to Jimin, knowing that he doesn’t need to say anything because Jimin knows he’s there and that's probably all Jimin needs right now.
So Taehyung waits. He raises his knees, pushes his legs back just like Jimin, and rests his chin on top of them. He doesn’t remember when he started caring that much about Jimin, but the tears starting to gather in his eyes make him realize how much Taehyung hates seeing Jimin cry. How much he wishes he could find the best way to to comfort Jimin and chase his pain away.
The scene is almost comical. When Jimin’s tremors start to calm down, Taehyung’s body starts to shake. Barely visible, but that’s enough for Jimin to let out a breathless, sad laugh when he finally raises his head to get a proper look at Taehyung.
“Why are you crying too?”
Taehyung echoes Jimin’s chuckle, sniffling. He tries to blink the tears away, but they already started rolling down his cheeks. “I guess I didn’t like that I couldn’t do anything to make you feel better.”
Jimin smiles sadly, red puffy eyes staring into Taehyung’s ones. Gently, he presses his own cheek against his knees, and the comfortable silence that follows seems to help them both.
Slow, calmer breaths fills the room as the tears stop flowing. Small, shy smiles are exchanged as if that's enough for them to understand each other.
“They canceled the exhibition,” Jimin finally explains. Taehyung hums softly, letting him continue. “It would have been my first, this year. They refused at the last moment... as they all do.”
Taehyung tentatively parts his lips to answer, but he decides against it. Instead, he follows Jimin’s gaze and glances at the phone on the ground, between their bare feet.
“I can’t pay the rent this month because of this.”
Taehyung doesn’t know what changed between them for Jimin to open up about such a personal part of his life, and the sudden trust he gives to Taehyung makes his chest swell with warmth. "I..." he pauses, thinking carefully about his words. “You know, I... never paid in time.” With a curious frown, Jimin looks at him again. “I was always a month or two late. I drove the landlord crazy to the point he’d send his dog after me when I tried running away.”
Jimin lets out a giggle at his words. “Sounds like a movie.”
Oh, Taehyung's voice repeats in his own head.
Jimin giggled. He giggled.
Flustered by his reaction, Taehyung swallows with difficulty. That was by far the most beautiful laugh he’s ever heard and Jimin doesn’t even seem to realize that it’s the first time he let Taehyung hear him. “I... hum... yeah. It kinda was.”
“What happened after that? Did you finally pay?”
“Of course I did!” Taehyung replies with a warm smile, ignoring the warm feeling coiling up in his stomach. “It wasn’t easy. I had a part-time job, but I was still in High School.”
“Last year. I was supposed to graduate... and...” Taehyung silently curses at himself when he hears a quiet ‘oh’ slipping from Jimin’s lips. He shouldn’t have talked about that. “...yeah.” The awkward silence filling the room doesn’t last long before Taehyung speaks once again. “I just wanted to say that I believe something big is waiting for you. I’ve seen your works, you have an eye for this. The way you use colors and forget about the typical shapes people have grown accustomed to... I know your head is filled with unlimited imagination and creativity that is worth sharing with the entire world.”
Jimin’s eyes drift to his own feet. “But the world must want it.”
“Jimin,” Taehyung calls before he presses his lips together to avoid saying more. Jimin probably needs some time for himself now.
At this thought, Taehyung stands up and moves towards the door until he hears a faint whisper.
“Thank you... for crying with me.”
Taehyung blinks a couple of times from where he stands. He’s glancing back at Jimin who’s taking the phone into his hand, wiping the already dried tears on his cheeks. His surprised expression softens, the area under his eyes slightly puffing up. “That’s what friends do, isn’t it?”
That word slips so easily from Taehyung’s tongue yet it seems to surprise Jimin.
“Y—yes...?” Jimin agrees, albeit unsure.
However, that does it for Taehyung.
“I’ll come back tomorrow. It’s late, you should get some sleep.” Taehyung notices the slight frown on Jimin’s face, but he knows he won’t get asked any more questions. He wonders if it’s because Jimin lost track of the time or because he doesn’t believe in Taehyung’s words.
“I’ll be back.” Taehyung repeats. “I promise.”
Jimin snaps his eyes wide open at his words. He parts his lips, closes them only to repeat it a few times, probably desperately wanting to reply but not knowing how.
He seems grateful when Taehyung doesn’t question him and instead, raises his pinky. Almost instinctively, Jimin mirrors the gesture with a shy smile. They crook their pinkies in sync, satisfied about this new, silent language they both immediately understood.
A pinky promise.
⏤ ☘ ⏤
Ever since that promise, Taehyung has been visiting Jimin every single day. He has been discovering his own home from a new perspective, loving the way Jimin made this place his own.
As time passes, Jimin seems to open up more. It’s a slow process but Taehyung can’t help but feeling warm at hearing Jimin’s lovely giggles at his jokes. Seeing the way Jimin’s eyes disappear and turn into the most beautiful crescents. There’s not a day that goes by that Taehyung doesn’t think about catching that sunny smile through his camera lens.
“What are you looking at?” Jimin’s question makes Taehyung blink in confusion, face flushing at the realization that he has been staring at Jimin instead of the canvas on the ground on which he’s painting.
“Liar,” Jimin giggles, finally looking up to meet Taehyung’s eyes. “Am I doing something wrong?”
Taehyung is quick to shake his head with a strong ‘no’. “I’ve just been looking at my new favorite scenery.”
Jimin stills as soon as his cheeks start burning red, a more vivid color than the one previously painting Taehyung’s face. At a loss for words, he lets out a breathless laugh, eyes drifting to the canvas. “You’re so cheesy.”
“You’d understand if you were seeing what I do right now.” Jimin presses his lips together as if to stop himself from answering. “What do I see, you ask? Well—” Taehyung starts with an amused smile, ignoring the sudden whine of objection from Jimin who’s pretending to refuse listening to Taehyung. “I see a creative and hardworking person. I see someone who doesn’t mind being covered in a rainbow of fresh paint and whose smile steals another from the people around him.”
“Tae—” Jimin puts the brush down, hiding his face in his hands as if that will help him block Taehyung’s voice out.
News flash; it doesn’t.
“I see someone who hasn’t received enough praise about his hard work and is now most probably thinking I'm lying.”
“No, that’s not it.”
Taehyung laughs at Jimin’s muffled voice. “I see someone with a heart bigger than what he believes it is. Jimin,” he gently calls when Jimin finally takes his hands away from his face, “your beautiful smile, your tiny hands, your laugh, your sparkly and lively eyes... these are only a fraction of what I see every day, and I love each one of them.”
"You... didn't need to specify my hands are tiny."
When Jimin nervously bites on his lower lip, Taehyung understands. He understands how hard it must be for Jimin to accept the words he had never really heard before. Not from his family. Not from his very few friends. Not from anybody.
“What do you see, Jimin?” Taehyung asks curiously after a short moment of silence.
Jimin sits upright, frown indicating he’s been trying to search for a good enough response to give. “I’m not good with words.” He takes his time to look at Taehyung’s face, eyes shining with something Taehyung can’t quite put his finger on, however it doesn't fail to make him break into a smile. “But maybe... I can show you.”
Taehyung raises his eyebrows. “Show me? I can’t see myself in a mirror, or a photo—”
“I was talking about painting,” Jimin cuts him off. “I can paint you.”
As Taehyung processes the words, a strange, painful yet relieved feeling tightens his chest. He doesn’t remember the last time he saw himself, be it through a mirror or a photography. He doesn’t remember his own features; the color of his eyes, the shape of his lips, the exact length of his dark, curly hair... He doesn't remember any of that, and wonders how much he changed.
The simple thought of finally being able to see himself for the first time after his death makes him overwhelmed with joy and excitement.
“Yeah,” with a vigorous nod, Taehyung accepts the offer, “I would love that, Jimin.”
⏤ ☘ ⏤
Taehyung understands why Jimin loves painting.
When Taehyung watches him, happily humming a song while laying down the colors on the canvas, Taehyung understands how much this means to Jimin. How expressing himself through painting has been taking such an important place in his life.
They’re different, but not that much.
Taehyung expresses himself in a more vocal way. He loves talking and could spend hours speaking about a subject that wouldn’t necessarily be interesting for the person listening to him. Yet, Jimin listens. He hums, sometimes absentmindedly, and nods when he hears an enthusiastic “That’s incredible, isn’t it?”
Taehyung couldn’t be more grateful.
They fit just like puzzle pieces.
Except for Taehyung, Jimin still feels so distant.
When Jimin falls asleep while painting, Taehyung lies down next to him like he does every single day. He watches the way Jimin’s chest heaves calmly, steady breathing filling the room... and wonders how Jimin would feel. How warm he would feel under Taehyung’s touch.
He wonders what it's like, to touch someone he would never be able to.
The stray clump of hair falling on Jimin’s closed eyes prompts Taehyung to bring his hand up, until he stops. His chest suddenly feels so incredibly heavy.
He hasn’t counted the number of times he tried brushing the pad of his fingers over Jimin’s face. Too many times. Each time, the result seems to make him feel ridiculously out of breath, throat tightening. Despite the fact that oxygen isn’t vital for him anymore, he strongly believes he’s dying all over again.
Taehyung doesn’t even know why he’s trying again. But he does. Lips drawn together, he brings his fingers to Jimin’s forehead and tries moving the hair out of his eyes. And he succeeds.
Panic rushing through him, Taehyung quickly sits up, ready to shake Jimin’s shoulders to wake him up and tell him what he just did.
He did it. His fingers touched Jimin’s hair.
And he could feel it too; the soft texture brushing against his skin.
“Jimin!” he calls enthusiastically while he brings his hand to Jimin’s chest.
Reality, however, catches him faster than he expected as his fingers disappear once again, going through Jimin's body without resistance.
His world crumbles and his heart shatters into a million pieces.
Why isn’t it working again? Was it a dream? What’s the reason for it to work only once?
“Taehyung...?” Jimin tries drowsily with his eyes barely open, having probably heard Taehyung calling for him. But it only makes it worse for Taehyung who offers a small, reassuring yet sad smile.
“It’s nothing. I’m sorry for waking you up. Just close your eyes and rest, alright?”
So Jimin nods, already falling into Morpheus’ arms without seeing how Taehyung’s eyes were brimmed with tears and how his lips twitched to turn the smile upside down.
Since that day, Taehyung decides to keep this a secret from Jimin.
Since that day, Taehyung tries to repeat it again.
He soon realizes it isn’t his imagination playing a trick.
He can touch Jimin. He can.
The second time happens when Taehyung is tracing over Jimin’s arm veins until his index presses down, able to feel Jimin’s pulse for two short seconds.
The third time happens when Taehyung playfully brushes his finger against the corner of Jimin’s lips where saliva started dribbling in his sleep.
It always happens in such a short amount of time and yet each time, it fills his entire body with warmth and overwhelming hope that one day, they would be able to touch.
⏤ ☘ ⏤
“Have you already done this?”
Jimin hums a questioning “what?”, barely listening as he’s moving the easel around until he leaves it somewhere closer to the window in the studio.
“Having a model. Painting someone.” Taehyung sits down on a chair previously placed two meters from where Jimin stands now.
“I’ve had academic courses.”
Jimin hums positively, finally looking at Taehyung who has his arm thrown over the back of the chair, cheek pressed against it and gaze inviting, almost lustful. A smirk quickly plays on Taehyung’s lips when he notices the sudden blush adorning Jimin’s cheeks. “Should I take off my clothes, too?”
“I’m not painting you naked.”
Jimin giggles when he sees Taehyung playfully waving his eyebrows with a grin before he picks up his palette to start preparing the colors.
“How should I pose?”
With a smile, Jimin instructs him to turn just enough for Jimin to see his face properly. “Up,” he says as he lift his brush at the same time, “down,” He gestures for Taehyung to move his head, repeating it again until he breaks into laughters at how easily Taehyung complies without even questioning it. “Silly!”
Smiling fondly, Taehyung sits comfortably, brushing his chin with the pad of his fingers. “Are you sure this is my best angle?”
“You don’t have a bad one, Taehyungie.”
The word slipped from Jimin’s lips in such a natural way that Jimin doesn’t even seem to realize what he said, as he drifts his attention to the palette in his hands.
Taehyung, however, can’t help repeating the nickname over and over in his head, loving the way it sounds in Jimin’s sweet voice and hoping to hear it again.
“You can keep that pose if you feel comfortable staying like that for an extended time.”
Nodding, Taehyung smiles. He watches Jimin start to trace a few lines on the canvas and notices the way his gaze turns into a more focused, serious one. If Taehyung didn’t know him, he would probably find him intimidating. Probably.
When Jimin paints, he’s lost in his own world. He has this way of pursuing his lips into the most adorable pout. His eyebrows unconsciously drawn together is another endearing habit he has, along with the distracted hum he makes whenever Taehyung tries to talk to him.
“Should I keep looking at you or should I watch outside?”
Jimin hums in response.
And Taehyung has to swallow the chuckle that starts bubbling inside of him.
Jimin isn't listening.
There’s a comfortable silence that settles between them, the only sounds filling the room being the gentle brushstrokes against the canvas. Their eyes sometimes meet, and each time Jimin has this adorable response of immediately darting his gaze to the painting, pretending to continue despite not having enough paint in his brush anymore. And each time, Taehyung wishes he would stand up and cup Jimin’s cheeks into his hands.
The reality is, however, other.
The thought of never being able to touch Jimin starts to crowd Taehyung’s mind, sadness washing over him. He doesn’t even realize that his features slowly changed; his smile turns upside down, his eyebrows slightly drops and his eyes don’t shine with the same intensity anymore.
Jimin notices that right away and stops his painting to look at Taehyung with worry. “What’s wrong?”
Taehyung blinks a couple of times, surprised by the sudden question after thirty minutes of silence. “Nothing?” He tries, albeit unsure.
“Taehyung, is there something you want to tell me?”
This time, Taehyung’s eyes snap open. They already know each other so well and yet, only seven weeks passed since the day they first met. They already feel connected through more than just home.
Unsure, Taehyung parts his lips silently. He thinks the answer over and over in his head until he hears Jimin call him another time, this time with worry hinted in his tone too. Finally, he breathes out with a heavy heart, “have you ever thought about us... touching?”
Jimin sucks in a sharp breath.
Reality seems to sink in for both of them. Harder, faster than before. They haven’t talked about it before, the only times they barely mentioned it being the ones where Jimin would tell him how he still couldn’t believe Taehyung walks through the closed door every single day like it's nothing. They never mentioned the fact that they weren’t able to touch each other, nor have they ever consciously tried touching.
It’s like they both agreed on never mentioning it whenever they would accidentally ‘bump’ into each other, only to see their bodies passing through without colliding... without feeling anything. They both want the same thing and they know it. Yet, they haven’t had the courage to talk about it before, probably out of fear that it would be permanent. Probably hoping that, somehow, there would be a faint possibility for them to know how it feels like… to fall into each other’s arms. To run their fingers through each other’s hair. To trace patterns over each other’s skin.
After a deep intake of breath, Jimin puts his art supplies away. His lips are pressed together as if he’s keeping himself from responding. When he looks at the canvas, Jimin allows himself to break into a faint, sad smile that Taehyung desperately wants to turn into a delighted one.
What tightens Taehyung’s chest, however, is Jimin’s honest answer.
“Is there even a day I stop thinking about it?”
Taehyung immediately stands up. “What if there was a possibility?”
Gently covering the canvas with a light fabric, Jimin silently shakes his head as if he refuses to even think about something that would hurt them even more.
“You didn’t believe in ghosts before I proved it to you,” Taehyung starts as he moves closer, almost chasing Jimin when Taehyung walks behind him, eyes following Jimin’s hands as he dumps his brushes into the faucet to clean them. “You might not believe in a possibility, but I just have to prove it to you, too. Right? Maybe just once. Perhaps we would be able to pinky-promise for real?”
“Do you not believe in me?” Taehyung asks from where he stands, behind Jimin. He sounds desperate, he really does, and his face is no better. When Jimin turns around, Taehyung’s eyebrows are already raised in a pained look and his eyes are begging Jimin for an answer. “Do you still believe I don’t exist? That I’m just an illusion you created because you feel lonely?”
A breath of disbelief leaves Jimin’s lips. Those words were the ones he told Taehyung the third time they saw each other, and having them thrown back at Jimin himself seems to make him crumble.
“Are you even real? Isn’t my brain just playing tricks... because I have no one in my life to even support me? Didn’t I create you because I have no friends, no family that would call me to know if I’m still alive and well? Are you even real, Kim Taehyung?”
“Jimin?” Taehyung calls when he’s met with silence. “Jimin, are you alright?”
Jimin nods and wipes his hands against his jeans. A nervous gesture, Taehyung notices. “We should perhaps... not talk about something that has so little probability of, one day, happening.”
“I didn’t mean to make you—”
“I’m going to take a shower.” Jimin cuts him off without thinking twice, not even waiting for an answer before he heads to the bathroom and locks the door. It’s not something that would physically stop Taehyung, however it’s a clear message to let him know that he doesn’t want him inside.
Still frozen, Taehyung stares blankly at the bathroom’s door. He doesn’t know how to interpret Jimin’s reaction and mostly, he’s scared he’s done something wrong.
He’s also scared because they both confirmed it.
Reality terrifies them.
⏤ ☘ ⏤
“You’re still here.”
At the gentle voice, Taehyung looks up from where he’s sitting only to find Jimin walking out of the bathroom in comfortable red shorts and an oversized white tee. His eyes are puffy and tired, and his lips appear more plump than usual. The arm wrapped around his own waist seems automatic, a gesture that is supposed to bring himself some kind of comfort.
“I am,” Taehyung confirms with a smile. “You should dry your hair, it’s still wet. You can get sick if you fall asleep like that.”
“Why are you still here?” Jimin asks, ignoring Taehyung’s comment. “I’ve been in there for two hours.” Despite how straightforward he sounds, Taehyung knows he isn’t doing it out of malice but rather out of genuine curiosity; a thought that makes Taehyung’s lips twitch sadly.
“I thought you’d still want to talk. You know... not keeping those emotions bottled up.”
With a tired sigh, Jimin walks towards the wardrobe from which he pulls out his futon and silently places what he needs for the night, at the corner of the studio.
“If you prefer that I tell you some bedtime stories until you fall asleep, I can also do that,” Taehyung tries when he stands up to peek at Jimin’s reaction. Warmth blooms in his chest when he realizes Jimin’s eyes slightly crinkled at his words. With a clearer and playful tone, Taehyung continues, “like the story of a multi-talented prince falling for the stable boy.”
“The stable boy?” Jimin ends up asking with an amused voice as he sits down on the mattress, leaving a place for Taehyung to join him.
“A boy who knew how loved his prince was.”
“By everyone?” Pressing his back against the wall, Jimin draws his legs up and props his chin on his knees. “That sounds nice.”
Taehyung hums. “The stable boy couldn’t reveal his face to the prince. Somehow, he thought that if he met the prince’s eyes, everything would be over. He thought that if that happened, all the letters they’ve both been secretly sending to each other would stop.”
“Taehyung...” Jimin starts with a smile, but Taehyung doesn’t listen.
“But one day, the stable boy received a letter.”
As Taehyung parts his lips to continue, Jimin interrupts him with a deeper, slightly exaggerated tone. “I would like to paint you, my lucky star.”
A grin plays on Taehyung’s face, definitely satisfied by the way the situation turned into them playing the prince and the boy. “I’m afraid you’ve never seen me, my lord.”
“That is why I’m inviting you to my chamber. Would you refuse such an invitation?”
They easily fall into this role-playing game, serious expression making its way across their faces as they personify their characters.
“What if I disappear once you’ve laid your eyes on me, my prince?”
With a surprised ‘o’ shaped by his lips, Jimin takes a moment before answering. There’s a slight change in his eyes that Taehyung immediately catches and understands... because he’s thinking the exact same thing. “If there is a very slim possibility of us being able to look into each other’s eyes without consequences, would you not want to try?”
“Should we try?” Taehyung drops his overly exaggerated tone to Jimin’s surprise as he asks the question that has been burning his lips for a while.
“We’ve already tried, Taehyung.” Jimin inhales deeply, looking down at where his hand rests, next to Taehyung’s. “For us... it’s not that simple.”
“Neither is it for them,” Taehyung says, speaking of the two fictional characters they created. When he tries moving his fingers closer to Jimin’s, he’s surprised at how quick Jimin is to retract his hand. Jimin refuses to face reality once again... and Taehyung can’t blame him. It’s a reality they can’t change, no matter how many times they try.
“Looking at each other and touching each other when one of us is dead, is not the same thing!”
Taehyung nods, defeated.
He can’t deny it. He can’t, because Jimin is right. He always is.
But this time, Taehyung wishes Jimin would be wrong. Just this time.
“It’s getting late,” Taehyung remarks, to which Jimin hums as he presses his lips against his knees. “You should sleep.” He continues, attention drifting to Jimin’s hand that now moved slightly closer to his again. It’s such a gentle, shy move that has Taehyung’s stomach tighten with warmth. “You should also dry your hair first, it’s still...” He pauses, a silent gasp leaving his mouth when Jimin spreads his fingers to gently slip them between Taehyung’s. “...wet.” Taehyung finishes, dazed.
They’re not touching.
But then, what’s that feeling ringing into Taehyung’s ears? Why does he feel like he can hear his heart beating erratically again? Or is it Jimin’s?
When he steals a glance at Jimin, Taehyung is surprised to see the blush painting Jimin’s cheeks, along with hope shining in his eyes.
Do you believe in me?
Do you believe in us?
Jimin heaves a heavy breath then, moves his hand to grip Taehyung's and... nothing. Nothing happens. His hand goes through as if Taehyung is nothing but a projection. As if he disappeared a second time.
Reality always catches them.
“I’m going to sleep.” Jimin says abruptly, pulling himself up just enough to slide under the sheets, turning his back to where Taehyung is still sitting with his mouth agape.
They have a shared desire to run away from reality, to hope that once morning comes, everything will turn out to be different. The desire to stop time and make this last forever.
Taehyung wishes he could say something. He has always been the one who could keep words flowing, never letting a conversation die out. He has always been the one to be able to find the exact words that needed to be said whenever someone was in need. Because of that, people turned to him for comfort when life started to get the best of them. He wants to be Jimin's comfort in the same way.
He wants to be Jimin’s anchor.
But the same questions keep running through his mind, tightening his throat and threatening to burst.
How can he do that when he can’t wrap his arms around Jimin? How can he do that when he can’t even wipe Jimin’s tears away? How can he do that when he can’t feel Jimin’s warmth against his skin?
⏤ ☘ ⏤
Taehyung’s jaw drops. “What do you mean it’s possible? Yoongi, we’re ghosts. We can’t touch humans. Humans can’t touch us.”
Sitting in front of Taehyung at an empty table of a closed restaurant, the one named Yoongi stares into Taehyung’s eyes. They've been there for a while now, the clock indicating the middle of the night.
Min Yoongi is another ghost and long time friend.
His death, however, dates back several years before Taehyung’s. He has been wandering for at least twice longer than Taehyung and has been learning far more than any ghost ever has. Therefore, it seemed like a good idea to turn towards him for any question about the random times Taehyung had been able to barely touch Jimin. Taehyung, however, never thought he’d hear those words slipping from Yoongi’s mouth in such an evident, nonchalant way.
“There are some special cases in which ghosts are able to touch a specific human. The one they feel the most connected to.”
“I don’t understand,” Taehyung replies with a shake of his head. He isn’t sure if confusion comes from Yoongi’s vague words or rather from the fact that Taehyung doesn’t want to believe in this. “I mean... The only thing linking us both is the fact that we share a home.”
“Do you love him?”
Puzzled, Taehyung blinks a couple of times at the question. “I care for him.”
Yoongi doesn’t seem like he’s buying it. With a sigh, he repeats, “Taehyung, I’m asking you if you’re in love with him.”
“Why are you asking me that?” Despite not wanting it, Taehyung’s voice comes out louder and more irritated. He’s refusing to even think about something that would make the situation even harder. He doesn’t even think he could ever give a clear answer. Does he love Jimin? he obviously does. Does he love Jimin romantically? he hasn’t thought about it before.
“Because it’s important,” Yoongi says, crossing his arms against his chest when he leans back. His features darken and the sudden change in his eyes makes Taehyung gulp. “The thing you’re talking about... this will keep happening, because you’re both getting closer to each other. In a more intimate way.”
Taehyung bites down on his lower lip. He doesn’t know if he should be relieved that he would still be able to brush his fingers through Jimin’s hair for short seconds, or scared that something happens because of that.
“Is there a way for us to touch... longer?”
A silence fills the restaurant as Yoongi stares at Taehyung. He doesn’t seem like he wants to explain, but he also knows that Taehyung would beg to know about a possible solution for them.
“Yeah,” Yoongi finally breathes out. “There’s a way for this to turn permanent. With a consequence,” he finishes when he sees the way Taehyung’s eyes shine with hope, only to be filled with fear. “As your feelings grow stronger, these moments will last longer, too. The only thing able to make it last forever is the human’s confession.”
“What do you mean?” Taehyung asks, leaning forward.
What could even be the consequences, anyway? Shouldn’t they try whatever they can, if that means they could be able to stay into each other’s arms whenever they decide to?
“By confessing, Jimin would confirm that he loves you romantically. You would both be able to feel each other again, but he won’t be able to touch anything else anymore.”
This whole discussion sounds like a joke. But when Taehyung lets out a breathless laugh, Yoongi frowns.
Yoongi isn’t joking.
“You sound delirious.” Taehyung doesn’t mean to be rude, but he can’t help commenting how insane that thought is. Jimin won’t be able to touch his friends? His family? “You make it seem like he’ll suddenly turn into a ghost if he says he loves me.”
“That’s what I said,” Yoongi agrees firmly.
Shit. He really isn’t joking.
“Except that I didn’t specify it will be sudden. Jimin will understand when he’ll start realizing he can’t pick up heavy furniture anymore, and then it will be smaller ones. He will understand when people won’t look at him anymore, or even acknowledge he’s passing by them. He will understand when he will be able to go through—”
“Jimin won’t confess,” Taehyung cuts off, panic settling on his face as the words stumble out incredibly fast. “He won’t. He won’t give everything up for me. He... doesn’t love me that way.”
“Taehyung, calm down.”
Burying his face into his hands, Taehyung tries to focus on stopping the sudden body shudders, but it’s no help. “I can’t tell him. I can’t. I have to go.”
“Taehyung, wait a minute!”
Taehyung barely hears Yoongi call before he’s rushing out of the building.
⏤ ☘ ⏤
Taehyung loves whenever Jimin’s face lights up with the biggest smile.
He loves seeing Jimin’s eyes crinkle and shine with happiness, a feeling that seems to take a bigger place these days.
Obviously, Taehyung had loved watching Jimin close his fist while answering a call that morning only to squeal at the news that was given to him through the phone. Taehyung had loved the way Jimin immediately turned towards him to explain with the widest smile how the organizers of the exhibition previously canceled were giving Jimin another opportunity to present a new work of art. At that moment, Jimin couldn’t stop giggling between each word, happy at how Taehyung was already giving him his proudest smile, eyebrows waving as if he was impatiently waiting for Jimin to finish before he could tell him how immensely proud he was.
Something big is waiting for you.
Since then, hours passed.
Night fell faster than they expected, and the only subdued light allowing them to see in the studio is the floor lamp against the wall. An atmosphere in which they both love working.
The large canvas fixed on the floor is already covered in colorful brushstrokes as Jimin sits there, legs spread open in an almost perfect split while his upper body leans forward. A typical Jimin pose, Taehyung thinks with amusement. He still couldn’t believe how easy these poses look whenever he sees Jimin doing them. He wonders if Jimin ever took dance classes before to be that flexible, which, actually, could be quite probable. Jimin did mention once that he had various classes focusing in different types of art when going to university.
“What are you trying to do?” Jimin asks curiously, putting the brush down.
Taehyung has his legs slightly spread on the floor too, trying in vain to pull one thigh back to mimic Jimin’s pose. A comical situation that has Jimin burst into laughters as soon as Taehyung looks up to meet his eyes. “I’m trying! Stop laughing at me!” Taehyung fake-whines, a slightly pained chuckle leaving his lips as he tries to keep this terrific pose. Bad idea, Kim Taehyung.
“You’re going to hurt yourself, silly!” Jimin giggles loudly, eyes disappearing into crescents when Taehyung leans forward and catches himself before he falls.
“W—Well here I thought I was good at making some impressive acrobatics!”
“Who lied to you?” Jimin laughs.
Was that too much?
“Did you seriously just brag about how flexible you were in bed?”
“Uh—” Taehyung lets out a nervous chuckle.
"Let me tell you, sir," Jimin is quick to drop the serious look for an amused smile, flapping his brush once as if he wants to playfully hit Taehyung with it, not even bothered by the fresh paint splattering towards Taehyung, “I don’t need to do acrobatics on someone to be—!”
Something cuts Jimin off.
In shock, they realize that the stains they expected to fly through Taehyung’s body to paint the wooden floor... actually settle Taehyung’s cheek.
On Taehyung’s skin.
A sharp intake of breath.
Time suddenly stops.
Their eyes are wide open as silence grows and fills the room, following the shock.
Bewilderment. Fear. Doubt.
Jimin’s brush falls on the ground. In a second, he’s clumsily, hastily crawling towards Taehyung who’s still frozen, jaw dropped. Taehyung’s chest is squeezed painfully when Jimin brings his hands up hesitantly.
There’s fear washing through Taehyung’s entire body when he looks into Jimin’s watery eyes. He wants to tell Jimin to stop. He wants to tell him no.
Don’t. Please don’t.
With shaky fingers, Jimin cups Taehyung’s face.
A sob escapes Jimin’s lips when he realizes, at the same time as Taehyung does, that they’re touching. Jimin’s warm hands are pressed against Taehyung’s cheeks. Taehyung can feel Jimin’s warmth on his skin.
Time speeds up.
Taehyung's fingers hold onto Jimin's arms to vigorously pull him closer, crushing their mouths together in the most desperate way. Their teeth clash before they could part their lips to push their tongues inside, hands immediately clutching at anything they can; their clothes, their hair, their skin when their fingers slip under their shirts.
Their kiss is nothing like they thought it would ever be. For the first time, it’s rough, messy. It’s desperate. It’s tightening their stomach, squeezing their lungs, burning their skin. It’s punching the most desperate whimpers out of their chests.
Jimin is panting into Taehyung’s mouth when he’s suddenly guided backward, his back roughly colliding with the canvas on the floor, not even bothering about ruining or ripping it. His nails sink into Taehyung’s back once his shirt is thrown away, until they flip over and Jimin hastily takes off his own with Taehyung’s help. No words are exchanged and the hungry glances they steal from each other each time they roll over the canvas are making them realize how much they were both craving touch. Their fingers are trembling, moving so incredibly fast when they tug on the last clothes preventing them from feeling the warmth of their naked bodies pressed against each other.
Jimin is warm.
He’s so fucking warm.
The fresh paint covering their entire bodies from head to toes seems to go unnoticed as they unconsciously smear it all over their naked skin; vivid colors, similar to the explosion bursting inside of them and making them hyper-aware of every nerve, every muscle tensing and warming up as they keep pinning each other against the messy floor.
The overwhelming feeling when he's lying on his back makes Taehyung gasp as his eyes open wide as soon as their lips break apart only for Jimin to leave open-mouthed kisses from Taehyung’s collarbones down to his belly button, leaving a trail of saliva as he goes down.
Taehyung is losing his mind.
The only thing running through his head is Jimin.
The way Jimin feels against his body, the way he looks with his brown disheveled hair, rosy lips, teary eyes. His toned abs, his strong thighs straddling Taehyung’s until they move to give Jimin more space to bring his head down.
Jimin. Jimin Jimin Jimin Jimin.
“Up,” Taehyung pants, hands urgently cupping Jimin’s face as soon as Jimin obscenely drags his tongue down Taehyung's cock, ready to swallow it down if it wasn’t for Taehyung’s forceful fingers. “Up up up up,” he desperately repeats as he brings Jimin’s head up to kiss him again with an edge of urgency, like he’s been craving this for years and years again.
Out of breath, Jimin lets himself be kissed. He lets Taehyung’s tongue slip inside of his mouth and do what he’s been dying to do for what feels like ages now. “Inside,” Jimin tries, chest rising and falling rapidly, spasming against Taehyung who moves his arm to wrap around Jimin. However, he doesn’t have time to flip them around before he's pinned to the ground when Jimin sits on Taehyung’s stomach. A strong shake of Jimin’s head makes their lips part for a second and at the same time, Taehyung feels Jimin’s hand slipping inside of his until he’s intertwining their fingers. “Inside,” Jimin repeats, clearer this time, “inside of me. I want you inside of me.”
Taehyung silently curses. He isn’t thinking straight. He lets his free hand run down Jimin’s back until he’s slipping his fingers between Jimin’s asscheeks. “Lube—”
“No,” Jimin almost panics, catching Taehyung’s lips as if he’s terrified of the idea of their bodies parting even for a second.
Taehyung sighs into his mouth before he surprises Jimin, hips bucking up to make Jimin lose balance and roll over. Taehyung is quick to trail his tongue down, a hand finding its way under Jimin’s knee to lift his leg up while his fingers spread Jimin’s asscheeks apart. The whimper escaping Jimin’s mouth turns into high-pitched moans as soon as Taehyung’s tongue is pressing against his rim and pushing past the ring muscle without meeting any resistance, soon followed by a finger, and two.
It's only when he hears a weak "here" that Taehyung looks up. He catches the bottle of lube Jimin threw at him, eyebrows furrowed in confusion as he wonders how did Jimin even have time to stretch his arms enough to pick the lube from the drawer behind him. The question is quickly replaced by hunger as Taehyung squirts a generous amount on his fingers and on Jimin's thighs. His vision seems to become blurred for a second, almost blacking out before he finds himself sinking three of his slicked fingers inside of Jimin, the slide easier, wetter.
Taehyung feels like bursting into a mixture of emotions he doesn’t quite get yet. He’s fucking his tongue inside out and licking around the mess he’s making, spreading his digits inside despite how tight Jimin still feels around him.
Yet for Jimin, Taehyung is still so far away. Fingers hastily running through Taehyung’s curly hair, Jimin makes him understand he wants him. With a strong grip, Jimin silently begs for Taehyung.
He wants Taehyung now.
Everything happens so fast.
Taehyung is brought up, the mess dripping down his chin licked by Jimin while legs wrap strongly around Taehyung’s waist. Jimin doesn’t let him go. Not once. Not again. When Taehyung murmurs something against Jimin’s lips, he’s surprised by the strong-willed fingers wrapping around his cock, making his thighs tense up as he gives a full-body shudder.
Jimin is guiding Taehyung inside of him, the answer to Taehyung’s quiet “You’re not stretched enough.”
When the tip catches at the rim, Jimin presses his heels against Taehyung’s lower back and Taehyung gives in. He sinks to the hilt in one swift motion that has them both break into loud moans. Jimin is tight. The way his eyebrows are furrowed and tears are flowing makes Taehyung understand he was right. Or maybe he's just too lost into these overwhelming feelings to even interpret Jimin's reactions.
“Don’t stop—” Jimin throws his arms around Taehyung’s neck, back arching as soon as Taehyung pulls back to slam inside with a sharp thrust. He repeats it, faster, falling into this intense and almost ruthless pace that punches the sweetest moans out of Jimin. “Touch me, touch me touch me!” The words stumble from Jimin’s lips until they turn into continuous and desperate ‘ah ah ah!’.
He’s begging Taehyung to touch him even when the latter leaves open-mouthed kisses alongside Jimin’s jaw and in the crook of his neck. He’s begging even when Taehyung caresses his sides, trails one of his hands up until he’s lifting Jimin’s knee while his fingers continue exploring every single part of Jimin’s body. He’s begging, and Taehyung understands.
Just like him, Taehyung thinks Jimin is still so far away.
With a strong arm wrapped around Jimin’s body, Taehyung hauls him up without notice in order to kneel. The sudden change of position elicits a gasp from Jimin at how Taehyung easily slips out of him. However, Jimin is quick to straddle Taehyung’s lap, sinking down on Taehyung's cock with his help and moaning at every inch filling him up again. In this position, everything feels heightened. Intimate. And it makes them even more desperate.
When Taehyung’s fingers trail down to spread Jimin’s cheeks apart, Jimin whimpers and takes Taehyung’s hand in his to bring it up until it cups his face.
Touch. Jimin needs Taehyung to keep touching him everywhere.
And Taehyung does. He thrusts up into Jimin, the new angle making Jimin's back arch prettily as his prostate keeps being pounded into. Again and again. Punching the loudest moans out of Jimin who’s trying so hard to keep bouncing and fucking himself back, trembling fingers gripping Taehyung’s sweaty hair when Taehyung bites on Jimin’s collarbones, licking down and urgently mouthing at his skin.
Taehyung is overwhelmed. Jimin is no better.
“Kiss me, please please plea—” Jimin cries into the kiss when Taehyung grants his wish.
Jimin is vocal. He’s the one begging for Taehyung to go faster, to touch him, to kiss him, to make him cum. He’s the one breaking into tears, gasping for air despite how he keeps desperately trying to catch Taehyung’s lips.
Taehyung’s thrusts grow erratic and the way Jimin guides Taehyung's hand between their stomachs is what pushes him over the edge; with shaky thighs, Taehyung is coming inside of Jimin. He quickly wraps his fingers around Jimin and strokes him at the same pace he’s still pounding into him, riding out his orgasm with a moan muffled into Jimin’s neck.
The strong spasm running through Jimin’s body makes him jump up when he comes too, fingers tightening around Taehyung’s hair locks as he paints their stomachs.
Their moans fill the room, sometimes interrupted by Jimin’s broken sobs, as the wet sounds of skin slapping against skin slow down until they completely fade when Taehyung buries himself to the hilt in one, last thrust.
Taehyung can’t believe it.
It’s not real.
“Jimin,” Taehyung calls in a raspy, tired voice, thumb brushing against Jimin’s slit and eliciting a cry from Jimin until he’s pulling his hand away. “Jimin, Jimin, Jimin,” he calls again, peppering kisses all over Jimin’s neck up his chin. His arms are now protectively wrapping around Jimin’s body, tightening to keep him safe against him, and Jimin lets him.
The last thing he’s thinking about is letting Jimin go.
Not when Taehyung can finally have him in his arms.
He seems to come back to his senses when he realizes how fast Jimin’s heart is beating and how his chest is rapidly heaving against Taehyung’s.
God. It is real.
“Don’t let me go,” Jimin cries breathlessly. “Please don’t let m—”
“I won’t,” Taehyung immediately reassures, a hand soothingly rubbing circles against Jimin’s back. “I will not let you go.” He wishes he could promise more, but he knows that he can’t simply lie to Jimin. He can’t, and he won’t.
When their eyes meet again once Jimin’s breathing slightly calms down, it’s Taehyung’s turn to let go. Tears roll down his cheeks at the sight he has in front of him.
Jimin’s eyes are puffy, red and still brimmed with water. His sweaty hair is disheveled, covered in paint while his bangs stick to his forehead. His lips are still tightly pressed together and his body is trembling, shudders making him slightly jump from oversensitivity.
Taehyung is still inside of him. And Jimin is still clenching around him.
“You look beautiful.”
A breathless laugh escapes Jimin, quickly caught by a sob. “Do I?”
“You do,” Taehyung confirms, tightening his hold around Jimin as if he could bring him even closer despite how their bodies are already warmly pressed together. “You look breathtaking. Stunning. I don’t think I can find a word strong enough to describe how pretty you look right now, to be completely honest with you.”
A smile stolen from Jimin. Taehyung is satisfied.
“This...” Jimin murmurs when he cups Taehyung’s face, leaning down until he meets Taehyung and softly tastes his lips again, “feels so good,” he continues before he’s stealing another kiss from Taehyung.
However, this kiss feels different. It’s not rough, not desperate. It’s slow, passionate, and they’re both taking their time remembering how their tongues taste like. They’re both taking their time licking into each other’s mouth, slowly rolling their hips in sync until their thighs quiver uncontrollably at the overstimulation.
With a giggle against Taehyung’s mouth, Jimin whispers, “I hate having to say this, but I think you should pull out of me.”
“Good idea.” Taehyung smiles playfully, a hand running down to help Jimin lift his hips just enough for him to slip his softened cock out. That makes them both hiss at the feeling of cum and lube dripping down their legs until they’re breaking into laughter.
Fuck, that felt like heaven.
Sitting down on Taehyung’s lap again, Jimin exhales heavily. “I have—," a relieved breath, "so many questions.”
“What if you told me how good you’re feeling instead.” Taehyung presses his forehead against Jimin’s before he playfully pushes against it. The sound of Jimin’s euphoric giggles makes his chest swell with comforting warmth.
“There is no word strong enough to describe how good you’re making me feel,” Jimin answers in a similar tone Taehyung used earlier, which makes Taehyung break into a smile.
“I don’t want to let you go.”
“You don’t have to,” Jimin’s honest answer feels like the sharpest pain he’s ever felt in years. There’s a hint of sorrow in Jimin’s voice that Taehyung so desperately wants to chase away.
"We ruined your canvas."
Jimin goes silent. He steals a quick glance at the ripped textile under them and at the colors smudged by how their bodies rolled over it. "It can wait," Jimin responds, attention drifting back to Taehyung. "But I couldn't wait when I realized I could touch you.” With gentle fingers, Jimin caresses Taehyung’s neck until he’s cupping Taehyung's face, tilting it up when Jimin leans forward to press a chaste kiss against his lips.
“I can’t believe I’m kissing you right now.” Taehyung’s words elicit a giggle from Jimin who’s kissing him again. On the lips. On his cheeks. On his nose. On his eyelids. Jimin peppers kisses all over Taehyung’s face, and it feels right.
As a challenge to do it back even more intensely, Taehyung runs his fingers through Jimin’s hair and keeps his head close to his while he trails kisses from Jimin’s chin up, covering his entire face and smiling wide against his skin at the sound of Jimin’s beautiful laugh.
“I can’t believe you’re kissing me right now,” Jimin echoes in response, giggles swallowed by Taehyung when Jimin meets him halfway, smiling against his lips. When they part, Jimin takes a deep breath, blinking away the last tears gathered in his eyes.
“Your heart is beating so fast.”
Thumb moving from Taehyung’s chin to his bottom lip, Jimin’s smile widens. “Can you hear it?”
“I can feel it,” Taehyung answers. Indeed, with the way their chests are pressed together, Taehyung can feel the loud pounding of Jimin’s heart against his rib cage. And it’s comforting. Reassuring. If he was able to feel it again, Taehyung knows for sure his own heart would beat just as fast. “You’re warm too.”
Jimin hums, focused on tracing the lines of Taehyung’s face. His fingers gently move to touch Taehyung’s nose, trailing up to graze his eyelids, feeling a tickle when he brushes Taehyung’s eyelashes. With a deep sigh of relief, Jimin is pushing Taehyung’s hair back and planting another kiss against his sweaty forehead.
“You’re exhausted,” Taehyung remarks as soon as he feels Jimin dropping his weight against him, letting himself be held up by Taehyung. The positive hum Taehyung gets in response makes him chuckle. “You should take a shower before heading to bed.”
“I don’t want to leave you,” Jimin says, walking his fingers down Taehyung’s arm with an amused smile. “I still can’t believe I’m touching you right now.”
“I can’t believe I’ve been inside of you.”
“Shut up!” Jimin playfully slaps Taehyung’s shoulder, their laughs filling the studio. “This feels so surreal.”
It’s Taehyung’s turn to hum. He stares at Jimin, his rosy cheeks making Taehyung’s chest bloom with warmth. It does feel surreal. It does feel like this is all a dream. And maybe he’s right. Maybe, once he’ll wake up, Jimin will slip away. Maybe.
Except Taehyung doesn’t dream. He doesn’t sleep, doesn’t need to. This is real. And reality frightens him so much more.
“Put me down!” Jimin giggles loudly as he wraps his legs tighter around Taehyung’s waist after being picked up.
“I thought you didn’t want to leave my arms?” Taehyung smiles.
Reaching the bathroom shouldn’t be that hard. It really shouldn’t. Yet Taehyung keeps accidentally bumping against the frame of the bathroom’s door and almost slips twice after stepping on Jimin’s brushes scattered on the floor; each time tightening his grip around Jimin and making sure he wouldn’t drop him. Fitting the narrow shower is probably the hardest step so far, but it ends up making them break into uncontrollable laughters as they keep catching themselves on each other’s arms to not fall.
It feels right. Everything does.
Taehyung’s fingers never leave Jimin’s skin while his lips trace every part of Jimin’s body. and Jimin... he lets himself fall into Taehyung’s arms. He lets himself be kissed, be held and dropped on the bed with a fit of giggles swallowed by Taehyung when he lies on top of Jimin to kiss him softly.
“I never realized how small your hands are,” Taehyung breathes out when he moves to lie on his side next to Jimin. Gently, he spreads his fingers and presses his open hand against Jimin’s, mirroring the gesture.
“Mh,” Jimin hums as he looks at their hands between their chests, examining the size difference. Playfully, he moves his hand up to try covering the tip of Taehyung’s fingers and make it look like it's just about the same size. “It fits perfectly.”
Jimin giggles, “I like this.”
With a positive hum, Taehyung intertwines their fingers. A soft, tender touch that makes them both break into warm smiles. “Me too.”
“Keep me awake.”
When Taehyung looks up, he realizes Jimin is fighting to keep his eyes open. A fond smile playing on his lips, Taehyung lets Jimin move his head closer to rest his forehead against Taehyung's. “I’m not going anywhere.”
“Don’t lie to me.”
Taehyung’s throat tightens. He swallows thickly, watching the way Jimin’s eyes finally close. “I’ll... be there. I promise. I’ll be here.” He’s not lying. He’ll still be there, no matter what happens. He’ll still be there, even if his fingers can’t brush Jimin’s face anymore.
Taehyung cuts him off with a gentle kiss, his free hand cupping the nape of Jimin’s neck. He doesn’t know what Jimin was about to say, but the way Taehyung’s chest started to ache prompted him to act on impulse. Jimin however welcomes it, letting his hand trail down Taehyung’s chest, fingers grazing his skin.
When Jimin pulls back, he rests his cheek against Taehyung’s shoulder.
Taehyung has his eyes set on the ceiling when his hand starts rubbing soothing patterns against Jimin’s back. He’s trying to chase away the thoughts clouding his mind, telling him to let Jimin go. He’s trying to chase away the thought making his head spin at the realization that his body is starting to weaken; energy awfully dropping.
“I don’t want to fall asleep,” Jimin’s voice comes out muffled, brittle. “I don’t want to...”
“Jimin...” Taehyung calls, before he realizes that Jimin is crying. He’s crying, and Taehyung doesn’t know what to do. He doesn’t understand why he’s suddenly frozen while Jimin’s body is trembling in his arms. His sobs are barely audible, yet Taehyung can perfectly hear them echoing in his ears. "Please don't cry. Jimin, baby, please..."
“I don’t... want to fall asleep...” Jimin repeats.
His sobs grow quieter, barely audible until Taehyung doesn’t hear them anymore.
Jimin fell asleep.
And Taehyung feels like his world is crumbling again... because his hand previously resting against Jimin’s back is starting to feel numb, unable to touch Jimin’s skin like before. Slowly, he’s slipping away. He’s slipping, and somehow, he feels grateful for the fact that Jimin let himself doze off. Yet he can’t help but wish Jimin was awake, eyes on him, begging him to stay. Begging him to not go, begging him to keep hugging Jimin tightly.
With a sight blurred by the tears brimming his eyes, Taehyung looks away, to where the light coming from Jimin’s phone suddenly turns on.
He reads it, out loud.
⏤ ☘ ⏤
“You just... Ran away? Like that?”
Taehyung looks down in order to avoid Yoongi’s judgmental look. Yeah. He did, in fact, explain the situation while skipping the more... explicit details. Not that Yoongi would ever want to hear about them, anyway. “I didn’t know what to do.”
“He woke up naked in this mess and alone? Seriously, Taehyung?”
“He was lying on his bed! He wasn’t on the floor!” Taehyung defends, finally looking up. Despite how his eyebrows are drawn together, his eyes still scream guilt. He wishes he had more time. More time to take care of Jimin, more time to pepper kisses all over his body again. More time for them to wake up together. Or rather, for Jimin to wake up to Taehyung’s arms still wrapped around him. “And he didn’t exactly wake up alone. When he opened his eyes and saw me, he understood that I couldn’t—”
“—touch him anymore?”
Taehyung nods, defeated. “He didn’t say anything. Took a shower, put on his clothes, and went back to bed... He didn’t face me this time.”
“And you ran away without saying anything,” Yoongi confirms with a sigh. “You should both talk about it. It’s obvious that the situation is hurting him just as much as it’s hurting you. and I can see that.”
Yoongi is right. However, Taehyung has no idea how he could actually bring up the topic without it being awkward.
He also doesn’t know that he actually won’t need to bring it up, because Jimin would do it for him.
Definitely not in a way he would expect it.
⏤ ☘ ⏤
“Jimin!?” Taehyung calls the second he enters the loft.
Something feels off.
Everything is cleaned, no paint or ripped paper is scattered on the ground. Loud music is playing to the point he can’t even hear Jimin sing while he picks up what looks like a bottle of soju from the refrigerator.
What looks like what?
“Jimin? What are you doing?”
“Drinking!” Jimin answers enthusiastically, raising both of his arms and almost spilling the bottle he just opened.
Blinking a couple of times at the sudden change in Jimin’s behavior, Taehyung’s mouth hangs open. He watches Jimin giggle and slump on the small couch next to where his speaker is resting on the floor, way too close for how loud the sound is.
“Since how long?” Taehyung almost screams, which thankfully prompts Jimin to lean down to lower the music until it’s barely noticeable. “Since how long have you been drinking?” he repeats.
“I don’t know. Long. Houuuurs.”
Jimin frowns when he looks up. His cheeks are flushed and his eyes are glistening with a strange mixture of sadness and excitement. “Because you didn’t talk to me this morning.”
“I... didn’t,” Taehyung confirms with a nod, “but you didn’t let me say a word either when you ran to the bathroom and then turned your back on me.”
“What did you want me to do? You weren’t lying next to me. You were sitting two meters away from me. That hurt. That hurt soooo much...” Jimin whines exaggeratedly, an arm brought up to cover his eyes. Taehyung shouldn’t laugh, he really shouldn’t, yet he can’t help the faint smirk playing on his lips at how Jimin is reacting under the influence of alcohol. “I knew that we wouldn’t be able to touch in the morning. I knew. But—”
“How?” Taehyung knows that Jimin is probably not thinking before speaking, yet he can’t help but wonder, “how did you know?”
“I... I didn’t.”
"Oh," Taehyung chuckles. “It came out as a surprise for me too, you know.”
“I just...” Jimin shakes his head and waves his hand, not wanting to talk about it.
The way Jimin tries to avoid having a deeper conversation about that topic makes Taehyung wonder if Jimin is also thinking about another possibility for them to touch. One more time.
“I still wanted you lying next to me, that morning.”
“I’m sorry, Jimin.”
Jimin shrugs. “Mh.”
“I am really sorry,” Taehyung repeats firmly, an apologetic look on his face. “I shouldn’t have just acted the way I thought was better. I should have taken your feelings into consideration and—”
“I wish I could shut you up with a kiss right now,” Jimin hiccups.
Taehyung stiffens as his jaw drops, eyes wide in surprise. Not very Jimin-like. But he couldn’t deny that it’s pleasant to see Jimin being so straightforward with him.
With a groan, Jimin stands up, almost stumbling forward before he’s jumping on his feet to pretend nothing happened.
“Do you want to drink, too?”
Taehyung laughs at Jimin’s question, a fond smile making its way across his face. “I can’t.”
The reaction he gets pinches his heart, making him almost think it jumped at the sight of Jimin tilting his head in confusion while giving Taehyung a frown. “You’re not... an adult?”
“What?” A laugh of disbelief escapes his lips. “I died young but not that young. I mean, I was able to drink legally the last month of my life, at least.”
“Twenty,” Jimin nods to himself. “Got it!”
“Ghosts still grow up, you know. In a way,” Taehyung gently explains, sitting down when Jimin decides to do it too as he probably doesn’t trust his wobbly legs for now.
“How old are you now, then?”
“I don’t know,” Taehyung replies honestly, smiling when he sees Jimin drink the bottle down in one go.
Oh, so he’s used to drinking, Taehyung notices. Jimin has probably drunk twice more than what Taehyung could possibly handle, and yet Jimin is still aware of the words he’s speaking.
“A lot of years passed.”
Dropping the bottle back on the ground, Jimin swallows the last drop with difficulty, a visible shudder running through his body until he’s blurting out, as if it’s the most evident thing, “you’re a hundred years old?”
Taehyung laughs loudly, throwing his head back.
“I’m not!” Taehyung answers with a shake of his head. “I might be reaching your age if we convert ghost years into human years.”
“Ghost years,” Jimin repeats, tilting his head to the side and pressing his cheek against his shoulder while his hand rests on the floor to support his weight. “You’re funny, Mister Ghost.”
“So I’m Mister Ghost now?”
Jimin nods, smiling. “You’re my lucky star too."
Oh. That was unexpected.
Jimin remembers. Of course, he does. It’s not like he’s completely drunk, right?
“I want to continue the painting,” Jimin admits, swiveling the bottle with his index finger until it slips and rolls away from him.
“I’m not sure it’s a good idea. Can you even see me properly?” Taehyung doesn’t mean to sound rude. His chuckle however doesn’t help and Jimin is quick to pursue his lips, pout indicating how offended he is by the statement.
Well. It was probably nothing big, but for Jimin, everything might seem heightened; his senses, his emotions... and the tears gathering in his eyes are proof of that.
“I still want to try. Please.”
Taehyung can’t say no. He just can’t. Jimin knows how to use those shiny, puppy eyes to make Taehyung’s chest tighten in a pang of guilt.
It only takes a simple nod from Taehyung for Jimin to squeal and jump up, ignoring the panicked ‘be careful!’ leaving Taehyung’s mouth. Jimin pulls the easel back, wooden feet dragged on the floor in an ear-splitting noise that makes Taehyung narrow his eyes until Jimin decides to stop once he finds a comfortable place to stand.
“Come closer! Sit there!” Jimin instructs before he picks up his art supplies.
A happy hum, an adorable sneeze, a giggle to himself when the tubes of paint fall to the ground... Everything about Jimin looks absolutely endearing. From his mannerisms to his sudden interjections.
“A—ah!” Jimin lets out as soon as Taehyung leans to his side from where he sits, almost just enough to peek at the canvas. In a protective way, Jimin rushes towards the easel and spreads his arms open, as if to keep Taehyung’s eyes away from the painting. “Don’t look! You can’t look at it until I finish it!”
“What?” Taehyung chuckles before he presses his lips together as soon as Jimin starts hastily mixing some colors on his palette as if he’s running against the clock. As if Taehyung is going to disappear if he doesn’t capture his features at the right moment. “I don’t know if I can be as patient as you want me to be.”
The words seem to fly over Jimin’s head. It’s a funny sight. The mixing doesn’t look as meticulously done as all the times Jimin did it in front of Taehyung when he wasn’t tipsy, but he most certainly doesn’t look like he cares. Instead, Jimin looks so incredibly determined to work on the canvas that he doesn’t even pay attention to the paint splattering his blue jeans and covering his fingers.
In response, Taehyung silently darts his attention back to Jimin’s face.
“I’ve been thinking,” Jimin finishes, picking up his brush. With a curious hum, Taehyung watches him start to paint what seem to look like short guidelines. “I’ve been thinking about you...” he explains, rosy cheeks puffing up. “Don’t laugh at me, this is serious.”
“I’m not laughing,” Taehyung replies with a fond smile. Obviously, he’s surprised by Jimin’s honesty, but somehow he feels that there’s something more behind those words. “What were you thinking about, exactly?”
Jimin inhales deeply. His fingers are shaking against the canvas when he tries pressing the side of his hand against it, using it as a support to be more precise. “About you.”
“You already said that.”
“You don’t understand,” Jimin whines, dropping his arms on each side of his body to look at Taehyung with a desperate gaze, eyebrows drawn together and chest rising at the deep breath he takes. “I was thinking about Kim Taehyung. The one who could still hear his heart beat. The one who wasn’t able to walk through the doors. The one who would have been able to touch me if—”
Taehyung is frozen.
He watches the way Jimin’s expression crumbles, a sudden panicked one replacing it when Jimin seems to realize what he just said.
“O-Oh my god, I’m so sorry—”
“It’s fine,” Taehyung is quick to reassure, nodding when Jimin shakes his head negatively. “It’s fine. Alright?”
“It wasn’t the best way to tell you that I want to meet you. It wasn’t.”
“You want to what?” Taehyung repeats in disbelief.
There’s no way he heard that right. There is just no way Jimin would ever think about that.
“I want to know where... you’re...” It’s hard. Taehyung can see the way Jimin struggles to form a proper sentence that doesn’t sound too straightforward. He, however, goes for it pretty fast before Taehyung can even say a word, “I want to visit your grave.”
So Taehyung heard that right.
A few seconds pass. Probably minutes, Taehyung isn’t sure. During that time, they both had fell silent. Taehyung had turned his head to the side, arm still propped on the back of the chair, while Jimin had resumed the painting.
The words running through Taehyung’s head don’t seem to make any sense the more he thinks about them.
Why does Jimin want to visit him?
The question seems to come out as a surprise for Jimin after a rather long silence between them. “Why?” Jimin echoes curiously, fingers stilling.
“Why do you want that? You just said it out of nowhere.” Finally, Taehyung turns his head to meet Jimin’s eyes. “Are you even aware of what you asked?”
A short silence gives them time to look at each other properly. Jimin plays with his bottom lip, nervously trapping it between his teeth. “I asked that because I want to be closer to you. And maybe... to find answers too.”
Taehyung looks down again, soft curls falling in front of his eyes.
“You don’t trust me?” Jimin’s question comes out in a weak, brittle voice.
“I do,” Taehyung sighs. “I trust you more than I trusted anyone in my life and afterlife. I just don’t think it’s something that will bring you any type of comfort or answer.”
“Oh.” Taehyung doesn’t have to look up to know that the look on Jimin’s face probably switched to a disappointed one. “I still want to go there,” Jimin says firmly, the sound of brushstrokes playing in the background and mixing with the barely audible ballads coming from the speaker that is still not turned off. “I want to learn more about you. I want to break the barrier that seems to keep us away from each other. I also... want to express my gratitude and say a final goodbye I never got the chance to.”
That catches Taehyung by surprise. Even more than that, it tightens his chest in the most painful way and it prompts him to prop both of his arms on the back of the chair and hide his face behind them. Jimin doesn’t ask him to look up despite continuing the painting. And that makes Taehyung feel guiltier.
A moment later, still unsure, Taehyung parts his lips. “If you remember,” he starts, raising his head just enough to find Jimin looking at him with a hint of hope in his eyes, “tomorrow.” He realizes by the way Jimin frowns curiously that he wasn’t clear. “If tomorrow you remember that you asked me this, we’ll go.”
Oh. The reaction is immediate.
Jimin tries to hide a shy smile with the back of his hand, drifting his eyes towards his work once again.
Taehyung doesn’t know how to react. He doesn’t know what to feel, knowing that someone wants to meet the Kim Taehyung who doesn’t exist anymore.
However, he doesn’t question it more than he already has, and he lets the comfortable silence settle between them, until whispers are heard.
“Tomorrow,” Taehyung barely hears, “tomorrow, I’ll remember.”
Despite having his eyes closed, Taehyung knows Jimin is smiling.
In the morning, Jimin remembers.
He however doesn’t initiate the conversation and Taehyung wonders if Jimin noticed his reluctance last night to bring him to the place Taehyung is buried.
“Should I wear black?” Jimin ends up asking when he opens the wardrobe, looking at the various clothes he has. Most of them are discreet, colors varying from white to dark blue, stripped of any pattern like the shirts Taehyung used to wear before.
“Yellow suits you better,” Taehyung replies from where he sits behind Jimin.
“I’m wearing this one,” Jimin says when he pulls a black turtleneck sweater, along with a long, beige coat. “With this.”
A chuckle escapes Taehyung’s lips.
“Don't be so nervous, Jimin. It's just you and me.”
"It's just you and me," Taehyung repeats in his head as he nervously clenches his fists.
With a tightened chest, he’s standing two meters from his own grave. His name is carved into the stone along with his birthday... and the last day he remembers feeling his heart beat inside of his chest. It’s the first time in years he’s back to this graveyard.
And for the very first time, he’s not alone.
“Hi.” Jimin smiles, moving closer to the grave. Tentatively, he brings his hand up until his fingers brush against the cold stone. “I’m Park Jimin,” he says as he crouches to lay the bouquet of white chrysanthemum in front of him. His movements are gentle, slow, and Taehyung is reminded of the first days they spent together. Those days when Jimin was always so careful around Taehyung. “I didn’t get the chance to meet you before... But those months I’ve been spending with you now have been the best of my entire life. I do believe in faith... but I do wish life wasn’t so unfair.”
Taehyung looks down silently.
“Despite everything... I hope you don’t let the past haunt you. I hope you’ll always remember the most beautiful memories with the people you cherished and still cherish a lot, no matter where they are now.”
“I do,” Taehyung whispers.
A comfortable silence falls.
Taehyung’s attention drifts back to Jimin who’s still crouching; he’s staring blankly ahead of him, and for a second Taehyung thinks the sigh escaping Jimin’s lips would be followed by a word. A question. A comment. Anything. But nothing comes out. Jimin doesn’t seem like he wants to say more and to be fair, he doesn’t need to.
When Taehyung decides to walk closer until he’s standing next to Jimin, he notices the few tears in Jimin’s eyes full of sorrow.
“Was it... painful?”
Taehyung looks away. He didn't expect that question, but he can't say he's surprised. With a shake of his head, he swallows thickly. “No,” he answers, "no, it wasn't."
“Drunk. Car accident.”
Jimin gasps loudly and the moment Taehyung turns his attention back towards him, Jimin offers a small, reassuring smile. A silent ‘it’s alright’ that Taehyung immediately understands.
Dragging his tongue over his lips, Taehyung nods.
He’s thankful. Thankful for the fact that Jimin doesn’t push him to answer more questions. Thankful for the fact that Jimin, just like him, doesn’t want to focus on the past.
It’s something they can’t change now, and despite how hard it is to accept it... that tragedy brought them together.
"Do you think, in another life... we would have met?”
Taehyung parts his lips at the strange and sharp feeling pressing against his rib cage, like an ice pick sinking into his chest. He decides to crouch next to Jimin, repeating the question in his head, again and again. Until a smile plays on his lips. When he looks up, Taehyung meets Jimin’s curious gaze. He then looks at the way Jimin’s hair waves in the wind and brushes the corner of his eyes. He looks at the way Jimin draws his lips together while his cheeks grow warmer until they’re painted with a pretty blush.
“I believe in faith,” Taehyung answers.
“I do too,” Jimin breathes out, turning his head towards Taehyung. Tentatively, he brings his pointer finger up aiming for Taehyung’s forehead.
Eyes wide, Taehyung stiffens. He doesn’t dare breathe out a word, doesn’t even dare move away. However, the apprehension washes off as soon as he realizes that Jimin is brushing a clamp of hair out of his eyes and gently tucking it behind his ear.
“Jimin—” Hastily bringing his own hand up to catch Jimin’s wrist, Taehyung finds himself closing his fingers inside of his own hand, jaw immediately dropping in shock. "N—No..."
The touch only lasted a few seconds, just like the very first times.
“No, no, no, not again...!”
“I—It’s okay,” Jimin quickly answers, eyes darting to the gravestone. “It’s okay,” he repeats, more to himself now. "We have to accept it, or it will be harder for us."
With a heavy heart, Taehyung nods. He sighs, defeated, knowing that no matter how much they wish for this to last, it won’t. These moments will keep happening all over again without them even realizing it and to have to accept it is one of the hardest things Taehyung thought he would have to do.
Taehyung already misses Jimin's touch.
He misses the warmth, the gentle touch of Jimin’s fingers against his skin.
He misses the thing he doesn’t have any control over.
⏤ ☘ ⏤
As days pass, the weight keeping Taehyung’s heart trapped seems to grow heavier.
He finds himself longing for the next moment he’ll be able to touch Jimin’s hair. For the next moment he’ll be able to trail his fingers down Jimin’s arms and trace that same line with his lips. It happens randomly again and again and catches them by surprise every single time.
The first time; when Jimin accidentally drops his brush on Taehyung’s lap. The second time; when Taehyung touched Jimin’s nose with the pad of his finger following a light joke. The third time; when Jimin stopped Taehyung from leaving by wrapping his fingers around Taehyung’s wrist.
It kept happening, over and over again, frustrating them to the point they decided to never try touching again. A decision on a whim that, obviously, only lasted a day before Jimin, from the corner of the studio, shyly asks Taehyung to try running his fingers through Jimin's hair.
Whispers were exchanged. Sad smiles and apologetic looks followed too.
“Maybe next time, Taehyungie.” “Perhaps the time is wrong.” “It’s fine, let’s try again tomorrow.”
Taehyung couldn’t agree. It wasn’t fine. His mind kept loudly reminding him of that day, of the feeling of Jimin’s skin against his, and it became unbearable.
He has seen the way Jimin’s eyes flash with a burning desire to feel Taehyung closer. He knows that he isn’t the only one desperately waiting for that day to come.
He knows it and soon, Jimin confirms it.
It’s a strangely hot afternoon despite the cold season. The curtains are slightly pushed to the side while the window stays wide open, letting the warm air fill the studio. A heavy breathing, slowly growing quicker, catches Taehyung’s attention the moment he enters the loft. It’s been a day since he came here; he notices the easel in the middle of the room hasn’t changed its place.
Neither has Jimin, apparently.
Sitting on the high ebony stool, Jimin is looking at the canvas he has in front of him with a dazed gaze. He has put the brush back on the easel, a hand resting behind him to keep him from falling as his free hand travels almost unconsciously towards his clothed crotch.
The heat grows heavier, sweltering. Taehyung wonders if that’s the reason why Jimin’s cheeks are flushed, plump lips tinted with a vivid red and drops of sweat already beading down his temples. His light shirt is also sticking to his chest, yet he doesn’t seem bothered by that, attention completely focused somewhere else.
“Jimin...” Taehyung calls, meeting Jimin’s eyes the moment he turns his head towards him, “have you been painting me?”
With a nod, Jimin hums. His hand starts to grow more insistent, fingers tightening around himself as if he’s trying to stop the natural reaction that Taehyung immediately caught in a glance. “Do you know... how long it has been?”
Taehyung swallows thickly. Jimin’s voice is deep, croaky, with a hint of desire that Taehyung has learned to recognize with time. “How long since?” he asks, moving closer until he’s standing at less than a meter from Jimin, arm behind the canvas he pinky-promised to not look at.
“How long since you’ve been inside of me.”
Taehyung has to take a moment to collect himself, a loud exhale leaving his lips. Jimin’s gaze is intense, staring right into Taehyung’s eyes almost silently begging for something that Taehyung craves just as much.
“Too long.” Taehyung breathes out.
“I can’t touch you...”
Jimin draws his eyebrows together, sadness washing through him and clearly noticeable in his voice when he asks, “please try.”
Biting on his lower lip, Taehyung nods. He brings his hand up, hesitantly, but before he could wrap his fingers around Jimin’s chin, he’s drawing his arm back with a frustrated frown and a heavy weight inside his chest.
“Did it go through...?”
Taehyung can only nod in response. “I really want to touch you.”
“You’re making this worse.”
Taehyung lets out a chuckle, shaking his head. Jimin’s right. He is making it worse for both of them. “Talk to me. Tell me what you’ve been doing... and what you’ve been thinking about.”
With a tilt of his head, Jimin glances at the canvas next to Taehyung. He seems to compare the painting with the real model, as he carefully scans Taehyung’s face. “I spent the day tracing each strand of your hair. One by one. I remembered the way it curls... and then I was reminded of how your hair felt around my fingers.”
Taehyung hums. He’s trying to not steal a glance at where Jimin is very obviously palming himself through his jeans. Goddammit. It’s harder than he expected. “Only my hair?”
“Your lips, too.”
Jimin bites on the inside of his cheek, holding Taehyung’s gaze. “Everywhere. On my skin. On my thighs, on my neck, inside of me⏤”
“You’re not making this easy either.” Taehyung quickly says, breaking into a small smile when Jimin giggles breathlessly. “What do you want, right now?”
“You,” Jimin answers spontaneously, not even fazed by how awfully honest he’s being right now. “I want you.”
“How long since you’ve been like this?” Taehyung questions as he watches Jimin squirm on his stool, clearly uncomfortable in his tight pants.
“I... don’t know,” Jimin sighs, closing his eyes for a moment. “I’ve lost track of time.”
"Look at me, Jimin," he calls first as he watches Jimin's chest rising and falling rapidly. "Jiminie," he calls again, this time getting an immediate reaction. Jimin snaps his eyes open to look at Taehyung. "Would you get rid of that for me?"
Confusion written over his face, Jimin follows Taehyung's eyes indicating his pants. With a silent "oh" formed by his lips, Jimin nods. He moves his shaky fingers, slowly unzipping his pants. He’s avoiding looking into Taehyung’s eyes now despite how shamelessly he was palming himself in front of him, and the blush adorning his cheeks makes Taehyung break into a satisfied smile.
“Look at me,” Taehyung instructs when Jimin slips the jeans down his legs until he’s kicking them to the floor. Hesitantly, Jimin raises his head, meeting Taehyung’s gaze. “Keep your eyes on me.”
Jimin parts his lips, a heavy intake of breath making his chest rise. The atmosphere seems to grow heavier, hotter, smothering them. There are a thousand words burning their lips, yet the silence filling the room lasts longer than what they intended.
With shy fingers, Jimin traces the outline of his length through his briefs, lip trapped between his teeth as he keeps holding Taehyung’s gaze. He’s looking at him with these intense bedroom eyes, thighs squirming abashedly on the stool. Taehyung catches the moment Jimin tries to close his legs as if to hide the now visible wet patch on his briefs. It’s endearing, Taehyung thinks. He can see how much Jimin wants to touch himself, how worked up he already is from just a few words exchanged with Taehyung. And yet, he’s waiting for something. A word. A permission.
Taehyung is waiting, until the silence becomes unbearable for Jimin.
“Tae, please, say something...”
That’s all Jimin needs before he’s slipping a finger under the waistband and pulling his briefs down just enough to free his cock, a heavy sigh of relief leaving his lips as soon as he wraps his hand around himself. Taehyung swallows thickly when his attention drifts down, watching Jimin’s fingers tightening around his length; thick for the short digits wrapping it. By the time he starts slowly stroking himself, Jimin is already fully hard, pre-cum dribbling down.
The sight has Taehyung bite on his tongue to stop himself from even thinking about relieving the pressure between his own legs. Jimin is making him go insane.
Jimin moans at the praise, eyes threatening to close.
“You’re already leaking so much. Are you pretending these are my fingers, jerking you off?” Taehyung asks to which Jimin immediately responds with a vigorous nod. “Go slow. I’m not going anywhere.”
With another nod, Jimin exhales loudly. His breathing grows labored as he drags his thumb across his slit, thighs shaking at the sensitive touch. He smears the pre-cum down his length, wrist flickering, before he picks up a faster pace.
“That’s it,” Taehyung encourages, eyes trailing up Jimin’s body. He watches the way Jimin’s thighs tremble, the way his chest heaves rapidly, the way his mouth hangs open and his lustful gaze tries to focus on Taehyung’s face. Jimin is already so lost in pleasure, and Taehyung ⏤ignoring the obvious and visible tent inside his pants⏤ is clearly affected. “You sound heavenly. I wish I was the one making you break into those beautiful moans.”
“You are,” Jimin whimpers already out of breath. “You are,” he repeats, tears gathering in his eyes. His entire body seems to shudder when he starts bucking his hips up, thrusting into his fist and never stopping the movements of his hand. Desperate. So desperate. “I need you. Need your fingers, need your lips, need your—”
“I want this as much as you do,” Taehyung breathes out. His voice deepens, a change that visibly punches a high-pitched sound out of Jimin’s throat. “I want to touch you again and make you call my name all over again.”
“Taehyung,” Jimin calls desperately, his hand starting to falter while his thrusts quickly become sloppy. Wet noises fill the studio, along with Jimin’s needy moans and continuous “Taehyung, Taehyung, Taehyung” slipping from his lips until they don’t make sense anymore. Until he’s losing himself, crumbling under Taehyung’s lustful gaze, crying and begging for something Taehyung is unable to give.
Jimin cries, throwing his head forward as he obediently slows down his movements, fingers tightening at the base. He’s spreading his thighs wider and parting his lips, loud breathing hitching until sobs start to break out.
Taehyung notices at the way Jimin is shaking that the stimulation has become unbearable. Yet, he still doesn't tell Jimin to come. He's staring with an intense gaze, taking in the gorgeous sight he has in front of him.
The sunlight directly hitting Jimin's flushed face makes him look like living art. His hair is sticking to his forehead, and more sweat beads down his chin as the room is filled with suffocating heat. Most probably due to how bad Jimin has been working himself up, only to push his orgasm away.
“I—I want to come,” Jimin confesses in a weak, shaky voice that has Taehyung’s cock twitch painfully in his pants. "I want to come, please, please please please—"
“Look at me. I want to see your face when you come.”
Jimin complies. He raises his head, meeting Taehyung’s eyes with his own watery ones.
“Go ahead,” Taehyung breathes out. "Make yourself come."
The warmth and excitement pooling at his stomach only grows stronger as he watches Jimin work himself up until his thighs are quivering uncontrollably. Taehyung watches Jimin stroke himself in fast, desperate movements, moans breaking past his lips.
A single touch against the wet slit, and Jimin crumbles.
“You’re doing so well,” Taehyung rasps. “Shaking in such an alluring manner...”
Jimin is coming in a loud cry, head unconsciously tilted back and ropes of cum staining his white shirt. His hand doesn’t stop, fingers still tight around his cock as he rides out his orgasm, body unconsciously jolting continously.
And Taehyung doesn’t close his eyes for a second. He refuses to. He watches in awe at how ethereal Jimin looks; wrecked, covered in sweat and cum and still shuddering through the aftershocks that are making him whimper.
Jimin is gorgeous.
Everything about him makes Taehyung’s chest swell with a mixture of admiration and endearment, along with a feeling he doesn’t quite understand yet. Jimin seems to know how to make Taehyung’s head spin, how to make him at a loss for words with a wide-open mouth and impressed look.
When he’s about to let out those thousand words praising Jimin, Taehyung is stunned by the way Jimin glances at him. Eyes brimmed with tears, face flushed, Jimin is trying to calm his breathing down.
“I wish you could touch me.”
Taehyung’s throat tightens. He sees the moment realization hit Jimin when something flashes in his eyes, regret written all over his face at the words he failed to think through before they slipped out.
“Trust me, Jimin... I really want to.”
Jimin chews the inside of his cheek. With his fingers still very much covered in cum, he tugs the hem of his shirt to hide his now softened cock. It’s such a shy, endearing gesture that contradicts the obscene sight he offered Taehyung.
Taehyung silently coos. “Don’t hide now.”
Jimin giggles breathlessly, lowering his head to avoid Taehyung’s gaze. “I don’t really look presentable right now.”
“What?” Taehyung interjects with an amused chuckle. “You just jerked off in front of me, what are you talking about.”
With a smile, Jimin shakes his head. He steals a glance at Taehyung, nibbling on his lower lip. “You know...” he starts, breathing in heavily. He looks conflicted, and Taehyung isn’t sure if he should be worried about what Jimin wants to say or not. “I’ve been thinking a lot. About us. About how we feel towards each other and—”
“I wish I could capture the way you look right now through my camera lens.”
The random thought makes Jimin burst into laughter, his clean hand brought up to shyly hide the lower part of his face. “I want to talk about something serious, why are you cutting me off all of a sudden!”
Taehyung doesn’t know. But somehow, strangely, there’s a hint of fear coiling at his stomach and telling him that he’s not ready to hear what Jimin has to say.
“I’m being serious too. Did you look at yourself?”
Jimin lets out a loud ‘aish!’ of disbelief, a happy, toothy smile playing on his face. “I can’t believe this. I don’t masturbate in front of the mirror, Tae, so I don’t know how bad I look right now.”
“Then trust me when I say you look gorgeous.” Taehyung smiles warmly.
“I do,” Jimin replies, the blush on his cheeks still not fading away. He seems to appreciate it, smiling at each compliment he receives. “I do trust you.”
⏤ ☘ ⏤
“What?” Jimin asks from where he’s putting the easel away.
“The first time we touched... It was four in the morning.”
With a curious look, Jimin turns his head towards Taehyung who’s sitting on one of the two stools. “Why did you never mention that before?”
Taehyung chuckles at the way Jimin’s lips immediately puckered. “Did you know you talk in pout whenever you get upset?” he asks playfully when he watches Jimin walk towards Taehyung to sit in front of him.
“I’m not upset,” Jimin sighs, “I just think these things should get— I don’t know, written down in a notebook?”
“You want to write our first time making love in a notebook?”
Jimin chokes on a breath, cheeks flushed. “I want to keep every single one of our memories with me. I don't want to forget any of them.”
“You would forget me?” Taehyung raises his eyebrows in a fake-offended look and a hand on his chest, way too theatrical.
“I didn’t say that, silly!” Jimin giggles, shaking his head. “You know what I mean.”
With a laugh, Taehyung nods. “I know.”
Taehyung has learned that Jimin loves keeping every single object that would remind him of an important event in his life. Cinema tickets, random packages, tickets for special events... Taehyung also remembers the day Jimin showed him a collection of printed photos Jimin took during the days he was in college and university. Through the pictures, Taehyung has learned that the few acquaintances Jimin had never stayed long, the only face with a name being a young man named Kim Namjoon; a friend that Jimin hasn’t seen in four years after Namjoon left for Japan.
Jimin doesn’t answer. He has his open hands up, close to Taehyung’s face as if he’s ready to cup Taehyung’s cheeks; but he doesn’t. Instead, he brings a finger to Taehyung’s forehead, pointing an invisible spot between his eyebrows before lowering his index. With a heavy breath in, Jimin tentatively presses the pad of his finger against the tip of Taehyung’s nose... and the touch has them both jolt in surprise.
“Oh—” Jimin is quick to bring both of his hands to Taehyung’s cheeks, thumbs caressing his skin. “You always feel so warm,” he smiles.
“You too,” Taehyung hums, melting under the touch he so desperately missed. “I—” Taehyung is cut off by the sudden gasp from Jimin. In a second, the warmth faded away, and so did Jimin’s fingers against his skin.
“This is... frustrating,” Jimin sighs, disappointed, before looking down at where Taehyung’s hands are; open, they’re facing up and resting on his knees. Gently, Jimin brings his own hands down. He doesn’t touch Taehyung, however he’s giving the illusion that he’s bringing his hands inside of Taehyung’s palms.
Taehyung’s abdomen spasms as he tries to suppress a chuckle, endeared by how small Jimin’s hands look when they’re compared with his. Jimin’s hands aren’t big enough to cover Taehyung’s long fingers and yet, each time, Jimin still tries to spread his hands wider; as if that will make them grow bigger.
“Your pinky is adorable.”
Jimin giggles happily. “When I was a child, I tried pulling on it to make it taller.”
A laugh bubbles up Taehyung’s throat as he glances up at Jimin, only to find him already looking back at Taehyung. “Really?”
Jimin nods. “It didn’t work,” he says with a smile, “but I still love it.”
“I love it too.”
Lips parted, Taehyung stills. There’s a silent question in Jimin’s eyes, hidden behind the one he just asked Taehyung.
Taehyung isn’t sure they’re still talking about Jimin’s pinky anymore. He also realizes that maybe, just maybe, his feelings are stronger than what he wants to admit. That maybe, the way his chest flutters and excitement pools at his stomach is more than just a simple attraction.
“Look!” Jimin’s sudden squeal makes Taehyung almost fall before he processes what just happened; Jimin wrapped his fingers around Taehyung’s.
With a loud exhalation of relief, Taehyung brings Jimin’s hands to his lips to pepper kisses all over them, trailing up Jimin’s wrists and smiling fondly at the sound of Jimin’s giggles growing louder each time Taehyung’s lips press against his skin.
If only this lasted for eternity.
The next morning, Taehyung finds a sticky note on the door of the art studio. One that he reads with a smile as he imagines Jimin hastily writing those words down before leaving.
Taehyungie, I’m sorry.
I was too nervous, so I went to the exhibition earlier than we planned.
I left the leaflet on the stool with the museum’s address.
Come say hi to me? (๑❛ε ❛๑)♪
Oh my god.
Taehyung just realizes.
The exhibition is today.
How did he even forget that?
Judging by the ridiculously high number of visitors crowding the rooms, the exhibition is a success. The works’ formats and medium were varied; from paintings to photos, or even sculptures and interactive installations.
Taehyung’s eyes, albeit interested in the various pieces while walking through the rooms, are searching for a familiar style. One he’s used to looking at every single day.
He imagines a dimly lit room and a succession of Jimin’s latest works hung on a wall, only to end with his largest painting that he imagines falling and crawling on the ground to accentuate the vivid reaction evoked by the mixture of colors.
Reality, however, is far from what he expected.
The last room is a small, brightly lit one where various works are stacked together against three of the four white walls.
Taehyung’s eyes immediately find it. There, in front of him, hung at the very center of the wall.
‘Silence’, he silently reads the plate under the painting with a knot forming in his throat. This can’t be, he thinks, as he remembers their conversation, five days ago.
“How many of your works are going to be exhibited?”
Jimin giggles at the question as he sprays fixative over his canvas. “Five. It’s a series.”
“You’ve been working on this for so long...”
“Are you proud of me?” Jimin asks with a shy smile, looking at Taehyung.
With a nod, Taehyung hums proudly. “I’m so proud of you, Jimin. These came out so well.”
There he goes; twirling with happiness in front of his own work, Jimin laughs with his entire body. That beautiful, cheerful laugh Taehyung wishes he could listen to every single day.
Today, only one of the five works is diplayed at the museum.
“I don’t know what happened, Namjoon...”
Taehyung freezes when he recognizes the shaky, brittle voice. There, sitting at a table in the almost empty museum’s cafeteria Taehyung just walked in, Jimin absentmindedly circles the rim of his cup of coffee while he presses the phone against his ear.
“I thought they would display the series just like I suggested them, but they didn’t even put four of them.”
Like a hand painfully tightening around his throat, Taehyung struggles to speak, let alone move from where he stands two meters from Jimin. He’s not quite behind him, but he’s at an angle where Jimin can hardly notice if he doesn’t actively look around.
“I know... I know,” Jimin sighs, closing his eyes for a short moment before a warm smile makes its way across his lips. “I’m not. [...] How did you know? [...] What do you mean I sound happier? [...] You know me so well and yet we haven’t seen each other in years. Yeah, I do. I kind of... live with someone right now.”
Jimin giggles at whichever answer he gets, nodding to himself.
“He’s someone I never thought I would meet. [...] I do, Namjoon. I really, really do.”
Taehyung seems ridiculously out of breath. He can’t hear what Jimin’s friend is saying through the phone but somehow he gets the idea of what they’re talking about. He quickly gets the confirmation when Jimin continues the discussion with a flushed face.
“Joon, come on... I haven’t. [...] I want to. [...] His name is Taehyung and..." Jimin giggles abashedly, "I still haven’t found the right moment to confess.”
Taehyung’s heart drops.
“You’ve been zoning out a lot since we’ve arrived here, Taehyungie.”
At Jimin’s words, Taehyung jumps out of his thoughts, turning towards him with a surprised look. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s fine,” Jimin reassures with a smile. “It seems like today is not a good day for either of us, huh?”
It would be unfair to even think of comparing his own day to the one Jimin had to go through.
It’s been four hours since they left the museum and met each other outside without mentioning the call between Jimin and his friend, Namjoon. Taehyung just couldn’t bring himself to talk about it.
Those questions, however, kept burning Taehyung's lips tightly pressed together during the time they walked to reach Seokchon Lake.
Night fell faster than he had expected and so did the temperature. By the time Taehyung finally looks at Jimin, the latter's cheeks are already a soft red, probably due to the cold wind making them slightly shiver.
“I’m sorry,” Taehyung repeats with an apologetic gaze. “I’m sorry about what happened. I can’t believe they just... refused to display the works that have already been approved.”
Jimin closes his eyes for a moment, a faint smile adorning his pink lips. “I already knew it.” He pauses before he looks at the lake in front of which they’re now sitting. “I was just not expecting... this.”
‘It’s hard.’ ‘They haven’t called me back.’ ‘I’m not sure I’ve been working hard enough.’ ‘I sometimes wonder why I’m still trying.’ Jimin’s voice echoes in Taehyung’s head as he recalls the various moments Jimin confided in him and admitted how bad he struggles to get his name out there, in this competitive, creative yet unfair path.
As if it’s the only thing he’s even capable of doing at this moment, Taehyung lets his hand gravitate towards Jimin’s, and with a heavy intake of breath, he tries covering Jimin’s hand. Unexpectedly, he feels it. He feels Jimin jolting in surprise without drawing his hand back, but the moment only lasts a few seconds. Once again.
Taehyung looks at Jimin curiously. “For what?”
“For being there for me when no one else ever was. For being the first person supporting and cheering me despite how this path is slowly destroying me...”
“That doesn’t sound like something you should thank me for.”
Jimin giggles, shaking his head in disapproval. “Art is what makes me happy.” He sounds firm, yet judging by his expression he also seems conflicted. His lips twitch before he corrects himself, “art is what I thought would make me happy in the long term.”
The change is barely visible, but he still catches Jimin’s expression falter. His eyebrows are drawn together, his lips shaking, and his eyes are glistening. “I don’t know why I keep trying. They warned me. My family, my friends... They all knew that this wouldn’t work out—”
“Don’t finish that sentence,” Taehyung cuts him off when he moves away from the bench to drop to his knees in front of Jimin and meet his eyes more easily. “Jimin, you’re not going to give up because someone tells you to.”
“I’ve been trying, Tae. Look at where I am, now. Humiliated. Ruined. My parents don’t even want to hear about me, nor do the ones I called friends,” Jimin cries before he looks up, choking up and face contorted with pain at the reality suddenly sinking in.
“Jimin, look at me.” Taehyung tries in a panicked voice. He’s trying, in vain, to bring his hands to Jimin’s knees, fingers falling into nothing each time he brings them up. “Jimin—”
“You’re the only one there for me, but look at us now,” Jimin continues, a broken laugh escaping his lips. When he looks down to meet Taehyung’s worried eyes, Jimin smiles faintly. Tears are rolling down his cheeks and his shoulders are trembling. “We can’t even touch.”
Taehyung’s heart jumps to his throat. It’s such an overwhelmed, suffocating feeling that makes Taehyung think his heart stopped beating for the second time as if it still pounded inside of his chest.
“Taehyung... I can’t continue like that. These feelings... Us... I—”
“Don’t,” the word stumbles from his lips in a broken voice. “Please don’t say those words. I beg you, don’t say that.”
“What?” Mouth agape, Jimin frowns, a mixture of confusion and hurt brimming in his eyes when he shakes his head. “Why?”
“Just... don’t. Trust me.”
“No! That’s the thing!” Jimin retorts, standing up in anger and facing Taehyung who jumped to his feet at the same time. “I noticed the way you always changed the subject whenever I wanted to talk about us. I noticed how you managed to make me stop talking whenever I wanted to confess. So what’s wrong? Is it me? Do you hate the fact that someone like me sees you the way I do?”
“What? No, that’s not it!” Taehyung exclaims.
“Really? What’s wrong, then?”
“I don’t want you to give up on everything for me.”
“What does that even mean!”
“This...” Taehyung starts, gesturing between them. “Us.” He swallows thickly when he sees the way Jimin’s features soften. “When I once said there would be a solution for us to be able to touch whenever we wanted... I meant it.”
“You’re joking,” Jimin chokes up.
With a negative shake of his head, Taehyung exhales. “This doesn’t mean it’s easy. Jimin, I don’t want you to become like me.”
Jimin’s eyes widen. He seems to understand despite how puzzled he looks. He keeps parting his mouth to close it and open it again and again, confused sounds stumbling out while he struggles to form any coherent sentence.
“I don’t want to hear those words,” Taehyung breathes out. “I don’t want to hear how you feel about me if that means you won’t be able to live as a human anymore.”
A heavy weight suddenly falls on his shoulders, guilt coiling up in his stomach. Jimin looks devastated. Hurt. Betrayed. And Taehyung hates that he’s the reason for that.
“You can’t decide this for me. Y-You can’t—” Jimin stutters as he digs his fingernails into his palms, balling his hands into tight fists. “You can’t decide for me.”
“I can stop you from making a hasty decision that would destroy your life, Jimin,” Taehyung says, defeated. His tone is soft, calmer, and that seems to make it even worse for Jimin whose anger still brim in his eyes.
With a breathless laugh of disbelief, Jimin swallows with difficulty and turns his gaze away. “Do you really think I have that much to leave behind? What if that’s what I want? What if everything I’ve been wanting for months is to spend the eternity in your arms?”
These overwhelming feelings Jimin seems to have kept inside for so long is what Taehyung has been afraid of. He’s been terrified of having his own feelings reciprocated ever since he talked to Yoongi about this. He doesn’t want to be the reason Jimin can’t enjoy life anymore. He doesn’t want to bring Jimin into a new, scary world where everything they lay their eyes on reminds them of how they don’t exist anymore... of how they aren’t real.
“You don’t realize the weight of the words you’re speaking right now.”
“Maybe you’re right,” Jimin sniffs with a light shrug. “Maybe we both need time to think about all of this.” He picks up his phone from his pocket to glance at the screen. Four o’clock. “You…” he chokes on his words, before coughing exaggeratedly, “you don’t need to be there tomorrow for the painting. I remember your face better than mine, anyway.”
“Jimin, let me at least walk with you to the studio.”
A sad, barely audible chuckle, followed by a painful apology, “I’m sorry.”
That’s the last thing Taehyung hears from Jimin, before Jimin offers a faint smile and walks away, disappearing in the cold, dark night.
⏤ ☘ ⏤
I love you.
Those words that Taehyung desperately wants to hear... while not wanting Jimin to voice them. It’s ridiculous; he knows it. But who can blame him, when he’s terrified of taking away Jimin’s life?
It’s been three days since he told Jimin what it meant to him to confess. Three days silently spent in the studio. Taehyung learned that he isn’t the only one incredibly stubborn; just like him, Jimin had refused being the first one saying a word to express his anger.
The situation is comical.
They’ve been exchanging curious glances and inevitable smiles, even going as far as trying to brush their fingers against the other’s skin just like any other day.
Their arguments have never felt like real, serious ones. They understand each other’s frustration and express it clearly when it becomes unbearable, but they can’t be mad at each other for longer than that.
They simply can’t.
Nothing, Bruno Major.
Taehyung smiles at the song Jimin chooses, watching him put the phone down to move to where Taehyung is sitting. “I remember you saying how much you like this song.”
“You remember everything I say?”
“I do,” Taehyung hums happily.
With hesitant fingers, Jimin brings his hands to Taehyung’s cheeks. For the first time since they’ve argued, they’re talking. And for the first time since that day... Jimin is cupping Taehyung’s face.
Jimin is finally touching him again.
A gasp leaves Jimin’s lips at the new, almost forgotten feeling as he watches Taehyung with wide, surprised eyes. Lips silently parted, Taehyung watches Jimin hold his breath.
They’re still touching.
Something seems to burst inside of Taehyung’s chest as he finds himself jumping to his feet and capturing Jimin’s lips into a slow, wet kiss that elicits a whimper of surprise from Jimin.
“Taehyung—” Jimin breathes out in a hoarse voice when Taehyung’s arms wrap around Jimin’s waist, a smile making its way across his face before Taehyung is kissing him again. Gentle, short kisses sometimes interrupted by giggles or pauses during which they softly gasp for the sole purpose of losing themselves against each other’s mouth again.
Jimin’s arms find refuge around Taehyung’s neck and without realizing, they let the music guide their bodies warmly pressed against each other as they move in sync. A slow dance in the middle of their studio that makes them forget about everything else.
“I missed this,” Jimin breathes. He accepts a last peck against his lips before Taehyung presses his forehead against his, eyes still closed. “I missed this so much.”
“Me too,” Taehyung hums as he gently rubs Jimin’s back.
The song comes to an end only to be followed by another slow one to which they keep swinging in the comfort of each other’s arms.
Jimin moves his head to nuzzle into the crook of Taehyung’s neck, leaving soft, short pecks against his skin before running his fingers through Taehyung’s curly hair. With a pleased hum, Taehyung presses his lips against Jimin’s temple. They don’t say a word; not that they don’t want to, but they don’t need to. This already feels right as it is. Almost too perfect.
Taehyung feels sudden tremors under his hands when he rubs the spot between Jimin’s shoulder blades, making his eyes snap open. “Jimin?", he tries, "Jimin, are you alright?”
“What will happen if something else takes me away from you?”
Taehyung stops the slow dance. He feels Jimin stiffening in his arms, chest heaving against Taehyung's. “What do you mean?”
“What if I disappear before I could tell you how I feel? What if something happens to me and I leave you behind?” Jimin asks breathlessly before he raises his head to meet Taehyung’s surprised look.
“I...” Taehyung presses his lips together when he notices the tears in Jimin’s eyes before Jimin blinks them away. With a heavy chest, he explains, “I care too much about you to take everything from you now.”
“You are everything to me.” Jimin quickly says as he lets go of Taehyung’s hair to cup his cheeks instead. “You’re taking away everything from me when you refuse to listen to me. You’re...” Jimin gasps as soon as he notices his fingers slowly slip, the touch barely there as Taehyung’s body seems to disappear once again.
Taehyung is slipping away so, so easily.
“You’re taking this away from us...” Jimin finishes in a brittle voice before he moves slightly back to not lose balance the moment they can’t touch anymore. The moment Taehyung’s arms close around himself.
With a tight knot weighting in his stomach, Taehyung looks up as he lets his arms drop alongside his body. “I’m sorry,” he whispers to Jimin who walks away to stop the song. “I’m so sorry...”
⏤ ☘ ⏤
“Are you sure about that?” Yoongi questions as he stares at Taehyung, sitting in front of him. Elbows resting on the table between them, Yoongi presses his cheek against the palm of his hand, waiting for Taehyung to answer.
“No. I’m not,” Taehyung says sadly. He sighs heavily, still feeling the painful tightness in his chest as if a knife has been plunged deep into his flesh ever since he left the studio, or even way before. “I just don’t know what to do anymore.”
“Well, isn’t that his decision to take?”
Taehyung frowns. “I think that’s not a decision to be taken carelessly.”
“And I agree with you. However, it’s been days since you’ve been arguing about the same thing, and he hasn’t changed his mind once. Don’t you think you’re being unfair?”
“You sound just like him. You’d probably be good friends,” Taehyung mumbles, looking away with his lips pursed like a child who refuses to accept the truth. Jimin hasn’t indeed changed his mind about confessing to him though he refuses to say those words until Taehyung wants to hear them back. But the fear burning inside of him only grows stronger as time passes.
“What are you so scared of?”
Taehyung swallows thickly. “I’m scared he’ll regret it.”
“Do you think he’ll regret it?”
“I don’t want to think about it.” Taehyung looks down, missing the moment Yoongi shakes his head.
“I’m asking you again, Taehyung. Do you think Jimin will regret choosing you over his current life?”
The question thumps loudly in his ears. Pressing his lips together, Taehyung goes silent. And somehow, Yoongi understands. He doesn’t blame Taehyung because he knows.
“You’re scared Jimin will have to go through the things you went through when you realized you became a ghost, right?”
Taehyung closes his eyes and nods faintly.
Those first days after his sudden death were torture. Realizing nothing has changed and yet everything did. Realizing that no matter how many times he calls for his friends on the street, they won’t turn away. Realizing that no matter how much he tries... he will always be invisible to the entire world.
Realizing he exists without existing.
Taehyung doesn’t want Jimin to go through this hell.
“Remember that you were alone...” Yoongi offers a warm smile when Taehyung looks up, gently reassuring, “but Jimin will have you.”
⏤ ☘ ⏤
Taehyung doesn’t know how it suddenly escalated again.
He doesn’t understand how they went from talking peacefully to arguing all over again with anger and pain tightening their throats.
“Jimin, you have to understand me!”
“No, you have to understand me!” Jimin snaps, not even realizing that he started gesturing around to convey his point. “I don’t have anyone else, Taehyung. My family isn’t there for me and I spend my time in the studio trying to make something off my art but it’s not working, and you know it! Why are you refusing to let me choose a life with you and you only?”
“Because that’s not a life!” Taehyung repeats desperately, hurt hinted in his tone.
“The life you think I have right now is not a life I’ll regret giving up for you. You know how much I struggled before and how bad it became for me to the point I thought I would have chosen a path that would have taken me away from you forever. Yet I didn’t. I didn’t, because you were here for me. I didn’t, because—”
“—please, don’t continue.”
Jimin’s jaw clenches and his lips start to tremble. With a sharp intake of breath, he shakes his head, refusing to listen. “When you were here, everything suddenly seemed easier. I kept trying, I kept living for you and yet...” he struggles to speak and Taehyung notices the pain badly hidden in Jimin’s voice. “Yet you’re so opposed to letting me choose you...”
“Jimin,” Taehyung calls in a soft tone when he sees how Jimin is trying to calm his labored breathing down. “Jimin, let me speak. One last time.”
“You’ve done enough.”
“Jimin, listen to me.”
“Jimin, look at me.”
Jimin is not listening. With a heavy sigh, he walks away without even trying to go around Taehyung and instead, moving directly towards him. Just like any other day, Jimin expects to walk past Taehyung. Through his body.
He was definitely not expecting to bump against Taehyung’s chest, nose directly hitting Taehyung’s shoulder.
“Wha—” Jimin gasps loudly, jolting back in defense.
“O—Oh!” Taehyung instinctively opens his arms to catch Jimin in case he falls. He realizes he had immediately reached for Jimin's shoulders where his hands are now resting, frozen.
An awkward silence.
A heavy breath and a weak ‘well...’ followed by a hum.
“We can touch,” Taehyung states.
“Yep,” Jimin confirms.
That totally isn’t awkward. Nope. Not a single bit.
“Listen—” Jimin starts before he meets Taehyung’s eyes, wanting to desperately talk and yet, not a word is coming out. There's something flashing in his eyes that lets Taehyung know Jimin is trying to keep himself from making a move he'll end up regretting.
Taehyung wants to resist, too. They're still filled with pent-up anger and overwhelming feelings that are eating them up from the inside; and falling into each other’s arms now feels wrong.
Yet a voice keeps echoing in Taehyung’s head, louder and louder, urging him to act and pull Jimin towards him; telling him that he shouldn't miss on this new opportunity.
So he doesn't.
"Wait—!" Jimin protests as soon as he's brought into Taehyung's arms, breathing loudly against Taehyung's mouth before he’s kissing him back with the same intensity. “We can’t,” Jimin huffs despite how he’s pulling Taehyung closer by tightly gripping his forearms, clearly contradicting his own words.
“We can’t,” Taehyung echoes as he keeps walking backward under the pressure applied against his chest, letting Jimin guide his own steps.
“I’m still so—” Jimin pushes Taehyung against the wall with a certain strength he didn’t know he had. “—mad at you!”
As if he’s been dying to speak those words burning his lips, Taehyung breathes out, “you look beautiful.”
“Don’t.” Jimin swats Taehyung’s hands away when they’re brought up to Jimin’s face. “You don’t get to tell me that.” The pain constricting Taehyung’s chest only grows stronger when Jimin moves back, walking without looking behind him.
“You’ve been so adamant, telling me to think this through again before taking a decision but you are the one who hasn’t thought this through, am I wrong? Of course I’m not. I know you. Tell me you love me. Tell me you’re in love with me and I’ll say it back!” the words stumble out so fast and force Jimin to take a deep breath once he’s done, anger shaking his entire body. “I beg you, tell me I’m not the only one. Tell me that what I feel right now isn’t just one-sided.”
Taehyung has a hard time processing Jimin’s words. He wants to answer, to scream that Jimin isn’t the only one feeling like drowning into these overwhelming emotions. He wants to talk, but he can’t. He doesn’t even find the strength to react physically, back still glued to the wall and mouth agape.
Guilt quickly washes over him when he notices in Jimin’s eyes how bad Taehyung’s lack of response hurt him.
“You can’t, right?” Jimin lets out a breathless, humorless laugh that cuts right through Taehyung. The way Jimin’s knees start to buckle finally prompts Taehyung to move closer. “You can’t because we both know how scared you—”
The words quickly die against Taehyung’s mouth when he seals Jimin’s lips with his, arms sliding under Jimin’s thighs to hold him up unexpectedly fast. Jimin makes a disapproving noise at the back of his throat, unable to add a word because of how Taehyung’s persistent mouth keeps him busy, however a yelp breaks free as soon as Taehyung sits him down on the worktable. Papers and tools quickly roll on the surface and fall on the ground as Taehyung pushes Jimin back just enough for him to be steady.
“Tae—” Jimin throws his head to the side in a moan, letting Taehyung lean down to kiss his neck with an urgency that Jimin reciprocates when he slips his fingers under Taehyung’s shirt, rolling it up hastily. “Talk to me.”
“I want this,” Taehyung finally says before he helps Jimin take his own shirt off and throws it behind. “I want you.”
“You’re thinking with your heart.”
Jimin narrows his eyes in disapproval. He quickly turns his head away when Taehyung leans closer to kiss him, his lips meeting Jimin’s jaw instead. “And you don’t listen to yours.”
Taehyung huffs, surprised by the sudden pressure against his chest when Jimin pushes him back just enough to urgently take his clothes off.
They’re still running against the clock, scared of the moment they won’t be able to touch anymore, but they can’t ignore their own feelings. Anger. Fear. Sadness. Hurt.
“Let me,” Taehyung says when he sees Jimin slip his fingers under the waistband of his own briefs, instead replacing Jimin’s hands with his, tugging on the cloth until Jimin’s cock slaps wetly against his stomach. Underwear now scattered on the ground, Jimin is left completely naked and the sight appears to make Taehyung’s heart leap into his throat as if it started beating again. Instead, his cock is the one to give a noticeable twitch in his pants. “You don’t realize how bad I’ve been wanting this to happen again.” Taehyung peppers kisses down the inside of Jimin’s thighs and lets himself drop on his knees.
“Then tell me—” Jimin tries before he chokes on a moan, biting down on his lower lip to suppress another high-pitched sound when Taehyung drags his tongue down Jimin’s hard length. “Why are you so stubbo— oh!” Jimin throws his legs above Taehyung’s shoulders, bare feet crossed behind the younger’s back as he runs his fingers through Taehyung’s curly hair.
The sudden iron grip around his locks only gives Taehyung the confidence he needs to leave open-mouthed kisses against Jimin’s balls, loud and wet suctions noises echoing in the room along with Jimin’s short, shallow breaths.
Fingers digging into the skin of Jimin’s thighs, Taehyung is too focused on pleasuring Jimin to notice the sudden pop above his head. Teeth ever so slightly grazing the sensitive skin, it’s only when Taehyung is about to wrap his lips around the head of Jimin’s cock that he’s surprised by the cold liquid falling on his nose without notice, dripping down his face and the cock he has just in front of his eyes. With a heavy huff, he looks up to find Jimin smirking at him, chest heaving as he holds the opened bottle of lube in his hand. "Jimin... God, you're making me go insane."
"Good,” Jimin answers in a raspy voice when he spreads his legs wider to let them fall from Taehyung’s shoulders before Jimin brings him up with a single finger under Taehyung’s chin; a gesture that is enough for Taehyung to understand and stand up.
Taehyung’s lips hover over Jimin’s, leaning forward until he’s stopped by a thumb pressed against his slightly parted mouth.
“I want you to want me even more."
"I already do."
"Not enough.” Jimin lets out a squeak of surprise when he’s held up again, legs instinctively wrapping around Taehyung’s waist. “I want you to tell me you're ready to hear the words I’ve been dying to—" a sharp intake of breath when his back hits the bed under him, and a loud exhalation as he watches Taehyung crawl on top of him, “—the words I’ve been dying to tell you for so long.”
"What if you regret it?”
“Wha—” Jimin holds his breath as soon as the lube is squirted between his legs before Taehyung smears it all over Jimin’s naked thighs, fingers dangerously coming closer to his exposed cock. “I won’t. You know I won’t and— god, Taehyung, please.”
Taehyung’s hands still. “How can you be so sure?”
“How can I be so sure I won’t regret being able to touch you, kiss you, cuddle you whenever I want?”
Jimin’s words cut right through Taehyung’s chest, leaving him at a loss for words as he notices the sadness on Jimin’s face.
The future they’re able to choose sounds like the most beautiful dream.
Taehyung wants this. He wants this just as much—
A sudden tight grip around his wrist makes Taehyung jump out of his thoughts.
“Here,” Jimin rasps when he guides two of Taehyung’s slicked fingers to his own rim, ignoring the panicked ‘wait!’ from Taehyung. “We don’t have a lot of time.”
The word echoes in Taehyung’s mind, thumping loudly into his ears and screaming at him to not waste any second. The thought of running out of time seems to paralyze him again, but Jimin pulls him out of it with a roll of his hips; trying to push Taehyung’s fingers inside of him.
“I’m here,” Taehyung reassures as he lets Jimin bring him down into a kiss after he runs his free hand through Taehyung’s hair. “I’m here,” Taehyung repeats when, this time, he pushes inside of Jimin. Carefully, slowly, making Jimin choke on a surprised moan that has him gasp for air.
Jimin is tight. So incredibly tight. Taehyung ponders over pulling out, but Jimin doesn’t let him and instead grips Taehyung’s wrist harder.
“Fine. Fine, fine, fine,” Jimin babbles in short cries, encouraging Taehyung to keep thrusting inside of him with a short, intense pace as Jimin meets him halfway whenever he pushes his hips back on Taehyung’s long fingers. “Just want you. Just want your mouth— Ah!”
Taehyung doesn’t let him finish. He brings his head down and hungrily mouths at the base of Jimin’s cock; an attempt to distract Jimin from the burning stretch.
“You keep lying to me.” Jimin brings both of his hands to Taehyung’s hair in a desperate move, whimpering loudly in response to Taehyung’s lips wrapping around the head of his cock.
Mouth too busy to reply, Taehyung only glances at Jimin from where he lies between his legs, a confused and hungry look on his face.
“You keep saying you’re here—” Jimin continues but his voice keeps shaking and his breathing fails when Taehyung sinks to the hilt. As soon as Taehyung matches the pace with the one he’s fingering Jimin with, his hair is pulled harder while the thighs around his face are unconsciously drawn together before Jimin realizes and spreads them again. “You keep saying you’re here,” Jimin tries again, “but for how long?”
Taehyung chokes on Jimin’s cock.
Not that he did it on purpose —though, he wouldn’t mind trying—, but Jimin’s words caught him by surprise. How long? Taehyung refuses to answer. Instead, he pulls himself off with a wet pop followed by a loud gasp, free hand coming to press against Jimin’s stomach. He doesn’t pay attention to the continuous ‘no no no’ tumbling out of Jimin’s mouth when Taehyung pulls his fingers out.
Jimin opens his eyes at the question, heavy breathing making his abdomen spasm. “Good,” Jimin echoes, and that’s all Taehyung needs before he’s unzipping his pants and hastily taking his clothes off.
The sound of fabric rustling and the bottle of lube being uncapped and squeezed echoes in his ears.
While slicking himself up, Taehyung doesn’t fail to notice the way Jimin’s eyes never leave Taehyung’s body. The way Jimin nervously bites on his lower lip, almost ignoring the way his own cock twitches in anticipation, too focused on tracing every line of Taehyung’s body. When Jimin brings his fingers to Taehyung’s collarbones, absentmindedly brushing the pad of his digits against them, Taehyung stills.
A deep breath in and silent glances at each other.
Taehyung has his own fingers wrapped around his cock, the tip pressed against Jimin’s hole. His free hand is now pressing against the bed, right next to Jimin’s head.
“Inside,” Jimin finally says, before Taehyung pushes inside slowly. Inch by inch, he doesn’t stop, and he can feel how Jimin struggles to not clench around him as he lets out breathless ‘ah ah ah’ until Taehyung is buried to the hilt.
It’s overwhelming. It takes a lot of self-control for Taehyung to not pound into Jimin, the warmth and tightness making his head spin.
“Let go,” Jimin begs. “Let go, please—”
Taehyung brings his hands under Jimin’s knees, lifting his legs up when Taehyung rocks his hips forward experimentally before slowly pulling out until the tip catches on Jimin’s rim. When he pushes all the way in, Taehyung leans over, almost bending Jimin in half and drawing a loud cry out of Jimin’s chest. He keeps up the fast pace, vaguely hearing Jimin’s babbles, until he understands a ‘don’t want you to go. don’t want you to leave me.’
“Becoming a ghost—” Taehyung starts hoarsely, snapping his hips forward, “—was nothing pretty. It’s not the afterlife you can imagine.”
Jimin is barely listening. He has brought his arms up to cover his eyes, body rocking against the sheets each time Taehyung fucks into him and punches the air out of his lungs.
“I couldn’t pick up photography anymore—” Taehyung pulls out to the tip, “couldn’t turn the pages of my favorite books—”, he thrusts inside, hard, “couldn’t do anything that I’d—” his words are barely heard under Jimin’s whines.
He picks up a faster pace, pressing Jimin’s legs to his chest and keeping him open while Jimin squirms uncontrollably under Taehyung. There’s a vain attempt from Jimin to answer, but the only sounds coming out of his mouth are choppy pants. He’s taking every thrust with a loud moan and is most probably crying under his crossed arms covering half of his face. The tears rolling down to catch on Jimin’s lips confirm it. He’s definitely crying.
“It’s not something I want for you,” Taehyung says before he tilts his head at an awkward angle to be able to kiss Jimin’s red lips.
“I still—” Jimin moves his arms to cup Taehyung’s cheeks, the sudden movement making Taehyung lose focus and slow down his thrusts, almost entirely pulling out in the process. “I still want you. Want you, and nothing— no one else.” Jimin brings Taehyung down, shaky lips pressing against his and it’s so gentle that it cuts Taehyung’s lungs open.
He’s kissing Jimin like it’s the very first time, like he’s scared of hurting him and yet, the obscene noises of skin slapping against skin still fill the room as Taehyung keeps rocking his hips forward. Sharp, precise motions that leave Jimin moaning against his mouth. It’s frustration, anger, and the burning desire to whisper words of love. All these emotions keep coiling up in Taehyung’s stomach, pushing grunts almost similar to growls out of his chest, sometimes interrupted by needy whimpers or huffs.
“S—Slow down, I don’t want to come yet, don’t want to—”
Taehyung lets go of Jimin’s shaky legs before he draws his hips back until his cock slips out of Jimin. “On your back.”
Jimin complies. He pulls himself up on his elbows, turning around with Taehyung’s help and letting Taehyung guide his hips up. With a hand trailing from Jimin’s lower back up to his shoulder, Taehyung coaxes him to drop his upper body against the sheets and Jimin easily lets himself fall under his touch with a high-pitched, muffled moan at the sudden cock ramming into him.
Taehyung’s head spins at the realization that Jimin has always given himself to him so easily. When he lets Taehyung kiss him, when he lets himself fall into Taehyung’s arms, when he lets Taehyung guide his movements.
Jimin has been letting himself get lost into these new, overwhelming feelings, to the point of only having these same words slipping out of his mouth.
“want you” “only you” “want all of you” “you’re all I have”
“I got you,” Taehyung breathes out against Jimin’s ear when Jimin's legs give out, prompting Taehyung to wrap his arm under Jimin’s hips to hold him up. “I’m here. I’m here for you.”
“I—I’m scared, Tae...”
Taehyung snaps his eyes wide open. He looks down, taking in the sight of Jimin’s sweaty body, quivering under him. Jimin’s hands are balled into fists, gripping the sheets harder —if that is even possible— each time Taehyung’s hips meet Jimin’s ass with a loud smack.
It’s only when Taehyung slightly turns his head to the side that he realizes what Jimin meant. The uncovered mirror at the corner of the studio stands there, in their direction, allowing them to see the horrifying reality.
Taehyung almost falls on top of Jimin when he looks away and leans down abruptly, panting as if his lungs are being squeezed until he can’t feel anything in his body. Eyes squeezed shut, Taehyung tries to chase away the picture clogging his mind from the moment he caught a glimpse of Jimin... alone.
Through the mirror, Taehyung only saw Jimin.
Taehyung saw Jimin lying there on the bed, upper body slumped on the sheets while something invisible keeps his hips up...
He saw Jimin cry and call out the name of someone who doesn’t exist anymore.
“Tae—Taehyung, tell me I’m beautiful,” Jimin whimpers when he moves his head just enough for Taehyung to leave a kiss at the corner of his lips.
“Tell me you’re—” Jimin chokes on an intense sob when Taehyung shifts the angle to find Jimin’s prostate and make his entire body jolt. “T—Tell me you’re feeling good.”
“Feeling so, so good. You’re so warm, so soft inside.”
Jimin’s thighs quiver and Taehyung can feel that Jimin is terribly close. “Tae, Taehyung, Taehyung—”
“Close?” Jimin answers the obvious question with a broken whine. Taehyung’s pace switches into an erratic, rough one, orgasm building up fast. “I can’t hold on longer, Jimin.”
“Tell me you love me—!”
Taehyung’s thighs tense. When Jimin tightens around him, Taehyung comes inside in a silent cry, hips still working fast as he slams inside a few times before he stills. Jimin must have come at the same time, Taehyung notices when he feels Jimin’s cock twitching against his arm, painting his skin white.
Still buried deep inside of Jimin, Taehyung hides his face into the nape of Jimin’s warm neck... and he cries. He cries at how easily the words slipped out of his lips when he came.
I love you, he had unconsciously whispered.
It’s unfair, because Jimin can’t say it back; Taehyung always refused to hear it. Yet, now, it’s the only thing he wants to hear.
Withdrawing his hips, Taehyung slowly pulls out, noticing the way Jimin’s body tenses when he slips out and cum uncomfortably drips down Jimin’s legs. In a soothing gesture, Taehyung kisses Jimin’s neck. He continues as he lays Jimin down and slumps onto the bed right next to him.
Not a single word spoken.
Jimin’s heavy breaths fill the room, along with the rustling of the sheets as Taehyung gently slips an arm under Jimin’s body to bring him closer to him, Jimin’s back pressed against Taehyung’s chest.
Despite how sticky and messy they are right now, they don’t make a single move. Their legs are tangled, and Taehyung’s hands previously rubbing patterns against Jimin’s stomach are now being wrapped inside of Jimin’s warm hands before their fingers naturally intertwine.
Taehyung keeps peppering kisses all over Jimin’s neck, trailing down to his shoulder before going up again to reach his jaw. If he ignores the heavy weight keeping his heart trapped, Taehyung can confidently say that this is everything he ever wanted. Having someone special in his arms, having Jimin in his arms and feeling how fast he can make Jimin’s heart beat. Jimin, Jimin, Jimin.
Taehyung believes he’s losing his mind.
Fear is quickly consuming him, reminding him of how terrified he is of losing Jimin, terrified of losing all of this.
“It’s possible”, Yoongi’s voice echoes in Taehyung’s head, “but you should be aware of the fact that if Jimin dies before he could tell you anything about how he feels towards you, he will probably be taken away forever. Not everybody becomes a ghost like us. If this happens, you’ll keep wandering on Earth while remembering that you had the chance to make this last forever. You’ll keep asking yourself why you haven’t granted Jimin’s last wish.”
An eternity without Jimin sounds like the most terrifying thing Taehyung has ever thought of.
He doesn’t want to let go. He doesn’t want to let Jimin fall into a cold, dark place that Taehyung would never be able to reach.
“What if I disappear before I could tell you how I feel? What if something happens to me and I leave you behind?” Jimin’s voice keeps ringing in his ears. Loud. Broken. Breathless. Desperate.
Taehyung’s eyelids fall as he nuzzles the top of Jimin’s head, hiding his face into Jimin’s soft hair.
It’s only when he feels his fingers move against Jimin’s chest that Taehyung gasps. Shivers run down his spine as Jimin guides Taehyung’s fingers, tracing symbols against his own skin probably in hopes of Taehyung understanding what he’s writing.
‘i’, Taehyung recognizes.
‘l’, Taehyung’s hands start shaking.
‘o’, Taehyung hopes that Jimin isn’t hearing him break into barely audible cries.
With slow motions, Jimin guides the pad of Taehyung’s fingers and traces the letters without pausing.
‘v’ ‘e’ ‘y’ ‘o’ —
Before Jimin could write the last letter against his own skin, Taehyung draws his hands back and instead, covers Jimin’s fingers to silently ask him to stop.
Jimin’s heart is beating faster, almost thumping against his back where Taehyung’s chest is pressed.
Jimin has made his decision.
And so has Taehyung.
⏤ ☘ ⏤
Taehyung is in love.
He knows it; he doesn't need a beating heart to realize how much he started caring and falling for Jimin since the very first time they met. He doesn't need to feel his pulse quicken to understand that the warmth and overwhelming feeling running through his entire body whenever Jimin smiles is love.
He loves Jimin in every way possible.
Taehyung loves his passion; the way Jimin keeps working extremely hard no matter how many times he’s dealt with failure.
Taehyung loves Jimin's smile; the way Jimin giggles and folds himself almost in half whenever he can't control his laugh, body sometimes falling and rolling on the ground.
He also loves Jimin's voice; the way Jimin started to open up about his life, his hobbies, his love for small and cute forms of life.
There is just too much about Jimin that has Taehyung fall, again and again. The light touches, the warmth of his body, the comforting words, the stutters and clumsy jokes...
Jimin has become the one and only reason Taehyung wishes he was alive again.
"You're all I have, Taehyung," Jimin's voice echoes in his head, making him realize; Jimin is all Taehyung needs.
"You've been very mysterious ever since I arrived here, Jimin."
Jimin giggles from where he stands a few meters from Taehyung.
There, sitting on the wooden floor, Taehyung is keeping his eyes closed shut. Minutes ago, he was entering the studio without notice only to be met with a surprised Jimin who yelped and told him to sit still, and like a kid who has been scolded for not following a rule —the one not authorizing him to enter before Jimin tells him to—, Taehyung isn’t moving an inch, now.
"Okay— okay. It's done." Jimin says enthusiastically. Taehyung hears a heavy intake of breath followed by tiny claps that make his lips twitch into a smile, imagining how cute Jimin must look right now.
"Can I open my eyes, Jimin?"
"You can. But—" Taehyung stills, keeping his eyes half open as if he’s been caught red-handed which elicits a fit of giggles from Jimin. "Silly! You can open your eyes but, just look at me for now."
With a warm smile, Taehyung drifts his entire attention towards Jimin. "I wasn't planning on looking somewhere else."
Jimin reciprocates his smile. Facing Taehyung, Jimin is standing behind the easel while the canvas resting on it is turned towards Jimin; in a way that keeps Taehyung from taking a glance at it even if he wanted to. Instead, Taehyung looks at how beautiful Jimin looks. Denim overalls covered in fresh paint and a white tee under it that surprisingly doesn’t seem like it has been colored yet, unlike his pretty, bare feet. What makes it even more endearing is the fact that Jimin looks unaware of the mess he made, his focus being on the canvas and now on its model, Taehyung.
"Do you remember the first time you came here?"
Taehyung raises his eyebrows with curiosity and nods, "Like it was yesterday."
"I truly thought you were a robber," Jimin says lightly. "I was thinking of any possible way of running towards my phone to call the police without you catching me."
Taehyung chuckles at his words. "You ended up trusting me quite fast."
"When someone decides to turn your life upside down and makes you suddenly believe in ghosts, you decide to give them a chance."
Warmth pools at Taehyung's stomach when he realizes how much they've both changed ever since they met. How Jimin, who always refused to believe in the existence of ghosts, ended up falling for one of them.
"Park Jimin believes in ghosts, now?" Taehyung asks playfully as he stands up.
"I believe in you. Mister a-hundred-years-old Ghost."
Giggles fill the room.
It's fun, Taehyung thinks. Reminiscing about their first days together, their jokes, their conversations, either serious or funny. They've gone through so much in only four months; they’ve laughed, cried, lost themselves into each other... They believed in the most absurd things, lost hope, regained it again.
Taehyung shyly complies. He doesn’t know why he feels a sudden burst inside his chest, body warming up as he takes these few steps forward. Ever since Jimin started painting, Taehyung has never gotten the chance to see even a single line. He doesn’t know what to expect and it’s exciting as well as terrifying.
“Why are you closing your eyes?” Jimin giggles when Taehyung stills in front of the canvas, having not gathered the courage to look at it yet.
“Talk to me.” Taehyung’s voice is small. Despite not being able to see Jimin next to him, Taehyung can recognize that familiar, calming breath leaving Jimin’s lips.
Jimin is smiling.
“Taehyung, do you remember our first time?”
Taehyung gulps. Silently, he nods and with Jimin’s words, the images come back running through his mind and fill his chest with a relieved feeling.
“It happened so randomly. I thought I was dreaming... When I touched your face and when you kissed me, I thought my heart stopped beating. I had this silly thought that you’d be as cold as ice like vampires are in literature—” Taehyung breathes a laugh, “—but you were warm. You are.” Jimin corrects. “That day still feels surreal to me. I keep trying to think about what could have been better, how I could have used our time better. But... there’s nothing I can think about. Everything was perfect. Everything is perfect.”
Perfect, if only I could touch you right now.
“You saw me cry, and you cried with me. You saw me drunk, and you worried about me. You saw me so desperate to touch you... and I could see you were just as desperate as I was. Taehyungie... won’t you open your eyes for me?”
Taehyung traps his bottom lip between his teeth. With a silent nod, he opens his eyes hesitantly, slowly. When he sees it, when he sees himself, Taehyung’s jaw drops open in a silent ‘oh’, hands shaking under the shock.
He doesn’t know what to say. He doesn’t know how to react. He doesn’t even know how to describe the sudden burst of emotions inside him. Astonishment? Fear? Gratitude?
Jimin’s voice becomes distant and fades away as Taehyung’s mind gets crowded with a hundred thoughts. Feeling like he’s trapped underwater, Taehyung doesn’t hear anything the moment his eyes start to trace every single brushstroke on the canvas.
The delicate painting holds a warm atmosphere with the attention focused on the young man at the center who Taehyung couldn’t believe is him. He’s sitting on a bed that Taehyung recognizes as being Jimin’s, the painted cushions appearing familiar to him despite how blurred the background is for the eye to turn back to the main subject. Jimin captured a similar position to the one Taehyung held the very first day; slightly leaning to his side, Taehyung has a hand following the curve of his body while the other rests on his stomach. He’s looking right into the painter’s eye, smile hidden and gaze almost lost into the one he’s staring at. Daydreaming. Hopeful. Regretful.
Taehyung recognizes the white shirt he’s wearing in the canvas as the one which belongs to Jimin and that Taehyung once slipped on when they were able to touch. The cloth is half unbuttoned, revealing Taehyung’s collarbones and barely covering his naked thighs where the shirt reaches. His long black hair falls on the pillow on which his head is resting, stray curly locks resting on his forehead. Taehyung is also surprised by how long his eyelashes are, wondering if they are even close to reality. Without realizing, Taehyung finds himself silently counting the moles on his face and body. On his cheek, on his nose, down his neck... He wonders if more are hiding under the white shirt.
Eaten up by curiosity, Taehyung unconsciously steps forward, lips shaking at the details that seem to grow more real the more he observes it. The texture of the skin, of his lips, the color of his veins making it look like he’s human again.
“I don’t think there’s a day I haven’t touched the painting. Every time... I just needed to express these emotions that grew... overwhelming,” Jimin starts, taking a deep breath. Despite not turning his gaze away from the painting, Taehyung listens. “I still remember the day you brought me to your grave. It was hard.” Taehyung stills, his fingers almost brushing the canvas. “I... I pretended it was alright. That I wanted it. That I just needed time to... make peace with the fact that your body isn’t really here anymore. Looking at the gravestone, reading your name, reading your birthday and the day of your death—” Jimin chokes on a sob, “—it felt as if my heart was getting ripped out of my chest. Taehyung—”
Taehyung’s shoulders tremble.
While listening to Jimin’s brittle voice, Taehyung’s eyes had darted to the corner of the painting, where he should have found Jimin’s signature.
He should have found Park Jimin.
He shouldn’t have found this. Three words. Eight letters.
“—Taehyung,” Jimin’s voice quavers in a way that Taehyung never heard before. “I can’t go on like that. The way you look at me, the way you smile and laugh with me... you know that home is supposed to be the place you’re feeling safe and the only one making me feel like that is you. You’ve been there when no one else was and even if we’re just like the moon and the stars, you understand me. Silent promises, glances, touches... It’s so easy to read into each other’s soul and yet... I... God, Taehyung, you know you’re the reason why I’m standing here right now, begging for you to listen to me. You want the same thing as I do so please—”
Taehyung lets his hands drop alongside his body, eyes still staring at those same words.
‘I love you’, he reads over and over again.
“Just this once. P—Please turn around... Taehyungie... Tae,” Jimin begs. His voice is trembling so, so much, and Taehyung doesn’t trust his own enough to say a word. He doesn’t, because he’s in the same, broken state.
When he turns around to face Jimin, he’s met with those same, hurt eyes. Tears rolling down and already soaking their clothes, they’re crying. Their bodies are shaking with the tremors they’re trying in vain to suppress, face contorted in pain.
Standing right in front of the person he craves to spend eternity with, Taehyung crumbles. “I’m sorry, I love you, I love you so much, I—”
With a gentle smile contradicting his pained features, Jimin watches Taehyung choke on a sob before he finally echoes his words.
And Taehyung soon realizes that nothing and no one could have prepared him for the day he would hear Jimin say it back. For the moment that gentle voice would reassure Taehyung that this time, home wasn’t going to be taken away from him.
This time, home would be in Jimin’s arms.
“I love you," Jimin breathes out a giggle of relief before he repeats with the warmest smile, "Taehyungie, I’m in love with you.”