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mornings with you

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Mornings aren't easy for Namjoon, but they aren't hard on him either. Not like they are for Taehyung.

"I dreamt I was riding a hot air balloon over Vladivostok with a polar bear at the wheel," Taehyung slurs today, moaning low in his throat at the end as if the ghost of sleep itself has threaded itself through his bones. Weighs him down with an ache pointed enough to draw tears, with the way Taehyung's voice sounds. It very well might be.

Namjoon has one arm looped through a shirtsleeve with his belt hanging in the crook of his opposite elbow, the picture of everything Taehyung currently is not. He was thinking about where Yoongi might want to go for lunch later, trying to remember everything the weatherman said about the potential thunderstorm brewing this afternoon, but now it's only filled with thoughts of Taehyung. One thought, specifically.

Love him. Lucky to be with him. Want to be with him forever, like this.

"Utcha," Taehyung groans. He hoists himself up into a seated position, blinks at Namjoon a few times in quick succession, then rises to his feet. His sleep shirt is all wrinkled from his tossing and turning through the night, and it makes Namjoon feel silly because all he wants to do is close the distance and smooth the little tail feathers sticking up at the crown of his head.

He looks down at himself and laughs. One arm looped through a shirtsleeve, belt hanging over the crook of his elbow. There isn't much time before he has to leave and catch the bus to work. He heads back to the bed to pat Taehyung's head anyway. A look from Seokjin is well worth it if it means he gets to have his arms full of his beautiful boyfriend for a moment longer.

When it comes to breakfast, Namjoon usually settles for the satchets of coffee with the paper handles he affixes to his mug before pouring hot water through the prepared grinds, as close to an Americano as he'll get at home. Never over ice, because he doesn't have time to steep double the coffee in half the water to mimic an espresso shot, and it's too early to wake Taehyung up with the sound of their new espresso machine grinding Namjoon’s favorite Ethiopian beans.

If you don’t use it, then there was no point in buying it in the first place, hyung, Taehyung argued once he heard Namjoon’s explanation over dinner. Loose curls fell into his eyes as he scooped another spoonful of rice before embedding some marinated myeolchi jorim within the sticky grains and offering it to Namjoon. He looked like a dream, a figment of Namjoon's imagination that had miraculously crawled out of the pages of his worn leather notebook and come straight to life.

Waking up isn't a big deal when it's you I know I'll see.

This morning, it's Taehyung who's already moving about in the kitchen when Namjoon finally emerges from the bathroom. Both arms are snug in his sleeves, light shirt tucked into dark slacks, and Namjoon just barely keeps himself from slipping on the linoleum as he takes careful steps in the expensive dress socks he and Taehyung bought together at the department store the other weekend.

The way his boyfriend hands over a thick ceramic mug is new for a workday morning. It fits the picture of domestic life Namjoon always dreamed of, but it’s also a new reality he’s afraid of hoping will be their norm. Taehyung’s job as a nurse keeps him on late shifts the first few years after graduation, and while they love that he only has to work three to four nights a week, Namjoon also hates that it means his boy has to trudge home near 11pm most nights.

"A banoffee latte for my prince," Taehyung says. The latte is warm and Namjoon turns back to the stove to see the stainless steel saucepan out from its normal place in the cabinet beneath the sink. He thought he heard the espresso machine going when he was pulling on his socks, but had talked himself out of it because Taehyung hates coffee. There's no reason for him to pull a shot or two this early in the morning.

But it is indeed the scent of freshly ground coffee beans that wafts over to join the sweet sugar of warm banana milk in Namjoon's hand. He sets the mug down on the counter, careful not to disturb its contents, before bringing his fingers to curl under Taehyung's chin.

"You're my prince, though."

Taehyung snickers, leaning forward to nose at Namjoon's cheek with a huff before moving to his ear. "Wrong. You're mine."

"Truce," Namjoon calls, because he can't help it. Something about Taehyung in the morning is lovely, just like how something about Taehyung in the evening is lovely, too. He can't put his finger on it, and he doesn't think he ever will.

Namjoon swallows dryly, words caught in his throat. "Thank you," he musters, because loving Taehyung means trying when he decidedly doesn't feel like it. Because Taehyung is worth it.

"It's no sweat, hyung," Taehyung says sweetly. Everything he does is sweet. “Jungkookie was drinking one while streaming yesterday and I stole a couple for you before I had to go to work. You can thank him, not me.”

Namjoon laughs, making a mental note to indeed thank Jungkook for the cartons of banana milk Taehyung must’ve squeezed out and warmed himself.

Still, it means something to Namjoon that his boyfriend would wake up earlier than he has to, patter around their kitchen with warm soles on ice cold tiles first thing in the morning to make something for him. It means more than the words that threaten to swallow Namjoon whole most days with the way he considers Taehyung. Loves Taehyung.

"I love you," he says, because he knows Taehyung loves it when he says it first. His cheeks always pink up and it takes everything in Namjoon to keep from gathering them up in his hands and pressing the chastest of kisses to each one. Most days, including today, he doesn't bother fighting it.

Taehyung flushes and Namjoon uses one hand to squeeze his cheeks, leaving the boy to push his lips out into a pout. He tries to protest, but all that comes out is a string of unintelligible mumbling that just makes them both laugh as he continues trying to fight it.

Namjoon can’t help it. He drops another kiss to Taehyung’s lips, laughing when his boyfriend pushes out his tongue to wiggle over Namjoon’s upper lip.

“Gross, stop that,” he says when he pulls away, but he can’t help the laughter that flows so easily as he says it. He doesn’t mean it, he never wants Taehyung to stop. Is always laughing when he’s around, always happier when Taehyung is by his side.

Taehyung sticks his tongue out at him, and Namjoon wants to keep the image of his eyes scrunched up into happy crescents burned into his memory forever. “I love you too,” he parrots back.

Namjoon scalds his tongue twice on his banoffee latte, much to Taehyung’s amusement.

It’s the best morning he’s had in awhile.

 

 

"I want to do something nice for Taehyung," Namjoon announces when lunch is finally over and he's headed back to his desk. Yoongi flanks him to the right while Seokjin presses into his arm from the left, and really, all is well in the world. His belly is full of some of the best yeomsotang in all of Seoul, all three of their shirts reek of garlic now, and there are only three more hours of work before he gets to hop on the train and return home to Taehyung again.

All is well in the world.

"You always want to do something nice for your boyfriend," Yoongi points out, sounding bored.

Seokjin hums in agreement. "You literally said the same thing yesterday when he texted asking if you wanted some of that soboro bread from Paris Baguette."

"It was really nice of him to do that," Namjoon mutters, cheeks flushing.

"Or just last week when we went out for drinks and you called him to say you loved him more than your bonsai tree--"

"Before crying in English about how much you wanted to fuck him, God fucking forbid," Yoongi interjects with a disgusted sigh.

"Okay!" Namjoon exclaims, hands extending to catch both his colleagues in the stomach before they both turn back to him. There's only a few meters left to the safety of his office, and he quickly crosses into his safe haven, waiting for the other two to follow before shutting the door.

"He seems to have gotten into this whole drink making thing lately. Maybe I can get him something for that?" Namjoon asks, moving deep into his office and trusting that the others will fall into place as they always do.

It’s been a week since the first banoffee latte pushed into Namjoon’s hands, and somehow Taehyung has been getting up every morning to take over the little ritual of making Namjoon’s coffee and sending him on his way before crawling back into bed. Namjoon loves it so much, loves that he gets to start every morning with his favorite person in the world. It worries Namjoon that Taehyung has to interrupt his own sleep to do so, but every morning his sweet boy just shrugs and reassures him that this is something he wants to do.

"A milk frother, get him a milk frother. Hoseok bought me one for my birthday and I can't live without it now," Seokjin offers from his place still by the door. He looks like he's debating taking the couch.

Yoongi rolls his eyes and crosses the room to situate himself in his usual swivel chair next to Namjoon’s desk. "But he's also doing all of this for you, Joon. It's the equivalent of some guy buying his poor wife a new washing machine or something, aka grossly condescending. Try again."

Namjoon worries his lower lip, rolling it back and forth between his teeth. Now that Yoongi mentions it, it might be the wrong move to get him anything drink-related when the only time Namjoon has seen Taehyung so barista-like is in the mornings with him.

Taehyung is one of those people who wouldn't take it that way in the first place, but now that Namjoon is aware of the potential implications, he can't let himself slip. Not like this.

"A baby."

"No," both Seokjin and Yoongi chorus.

"You can't just gift someone a baby, you asshat. Especially not when he's the long-term boyfriend you're supposed to be communicating with," Yoongi says.

"I'm not speaking from personal experience here, but a living, breathing 10-kilo baby is a really bad idea."

Namjoon blinks at Seokjin. He peeks a glance at Yoongi, who's doing the same thing.

"That's. That's really specific."

Seokjin finally tosses himself onto the couch in Namjoon's office with a satisfied sigh. "Beggars really can't be choosers, lads. And that's how I learned the hard way to always set myself up to be a chooser."

Namjoon and Yoongi exchange a look, unsure as to what the hell Seokjin's just said or where to begin unpacking any of it, before wordlessly deciding to tuck it away for a later time, likely involving much more alcohol for each one of them.

Yoongi leaves to stop by his own office next door to grab his computer, seemingly free for the rest of the afternoon, while Seokjin throws an arm over his eyes and seems to drift into a fitful sleep for the next fifteen minutes. Namjoon times it like always, because a post-lunch fixer-upper is an everyday thing, and his job is to ensure that Seokjin doesn’t run over or under his allotted nap time.

"Take a quick nap after lunch or leave twenty minutes early at the end of the day, be my guest," Seokjin said one day, and then it had become the gospel truth. There really are perks to being the CEO of your own consulting firm, Namjoon has come to realize.

It's how Namjoon takes Seokjin's haphazard advice and chooses to spend his allotted siesta time to really, genuinely think about what the hell he wants to do for his boyfriend to show his appreciation. They both know there's never any expectation to reciprocate any sort of gesture between the two of them, but Namjoon realizes disappointedly that it's been awhile since he had the time to do something nice for his boyfriend.

He misses the excitement of plotting out a surprise for Taehyung,

Once, Jungkook asked Taehyung if he ever worried that Namjoon being so secretive ever made him worry he was doing something else with his time. Someone else, they all knew he meant.

Taehyung had merely turned dark, dark eyes to Namjoon before tracing them up and down from head to toe.

Namjoon hyung? He'd scoffed then, as if any suggestion of him being unfaithful was ludicrous. Because it was.

Only a fool would cheat on their partner, and my Namjoonie is no fool.

Chills still travel down Namjoon's spine at the mere memory. The way Taehyung had grinned a split second later before leaning into Namjoon’s side. He slid his fingers up and down Namjoon’s pant leg before intertwining them with Namjoon’s. His hand was warm, but it was a candle in the wind when compared to the rays of sunshine shining down on Namjoon every time Taehyung so much as smiled.

I always know he’s doing something for me when he gets that way. He makes it easy to trust that because he actually appreciates me, Jungkook-ah. Find someone like him, okay?

And that's how @thingsmyboyfriendmakesme is born.

Namjoon keeps it carefully hidden on his phone, making sure to snap his photos either after he's left their apartment or in the rare moments Taehyung has his back turned to empty out their espresso machine or steep a cup of hot tea for himself. It doesn't make for beautiful pictures by any means, but Namjoon makes sure to consider the lighting and clarity of every shot to ensure there is no graininess shrouding any of his memories.

There's no rhyme or reason as to why Namjoon decides to start an Instagram account documenting Taehyung’s coffee adventures, but at the very least it might make for a surprise somewhere down the line. He entertains thoughts of tagging Taehyung on day 100 or something so he’s able to see, but thinks better of it when he realizes he wants something tangible for Taehyung to remember this by.

Jimin mentions offhandedly how his brother got his Instagram photos printed from some app, and the idea cements itself in his mind. Namjoon will do this for a bit and bind it together in a book for Taehyung to keep forever, working hard to come up with captions that string together some semblance of a story telling of Namjoon’s unending love for him.

“Taehyung-ah, can you send me those pictures of the banana milk coffee you made me that one day?” Namjoon asks one day while they’re making dinner. “Maybe the London fog too, Yoongi hyung keeps saying he wants to see.”

The excuse sounds natural enough and Namjoon hides a smirk to himself as he stirs julienned potatoes in sesame oil, back turned to where Taehyung is diligently cutting dubu for their jjigae tonight.

Banoffee latte,” Taehyung corrects amidst the rhythmic clunk of his knife hitting the cutting board. There’s a smile in his voice as always, and Namjoon doesn’t have to turn to know that it’s there.

Namjoon doesn't have any followers on this Instagram account, but that's okay because for now, this is for him and him alone. A thrill runs down his spine every time he hits post, heart pounding as he lets himself believe that maybe, just maybe, he hadn't actually switched to the correct account. Maybe Taehyung would get the notification saying Namjoon has posted for the first time in awhile. Maybe he would be so busy with his own work in the studio that he wouldn't return to his phone until hours later, when the incriminating evidence has long been erased.

He realizes the alternative would be okay, too. It would ruin the surprise he's forming in his mind, but it wouldn't be the end of the world. It could never be a waste, because any opportunity to make Taehyung smile is one worth taking.

Namjoon finds himself looking forward to writing his captions every day, thinking about the progression from one post to the next. He never lets himself scroll back more than the day before in his desire to save any reactions he might have for his final plan.

Day 12 brings with it an argument over ordering in versus cooking for dinner, but Day 13 brings sleepy scratches to the small of Namjoon's back and a whispered request for him to stay. Namjoon calls off work for the day and joins Taehyung in the studio.

On day 19, Namjoon follows Taehyung to one of his friends’ gallery showings, leaving work early to meet him at home before leaving together. It’s one of Taehyung’s days off from the hospital, and Namjoon wants to make the most of it.

The day finally comes for the final piece to slot into place, and now that Namjoon has the moment to think about it, it feels silly. This is nothing compared to the past six weeks of Taehyung trying recipe after recipe to make Namjoon’s mornings that much sweeter, but he also wants it to be perfect.

Taehyung doesn’t like coffee so Namjoon doesn’t bother to switch their now well-loved espresso machine today. Instead, he grabs the bag of misugaru powder he bought on his way home from work last night along with their ever-present carton of Seoul Milk.

It isn’t long before soft footsteps pad into the kitchen, sticking to the linoleum with each step. Long arms make their way around his waist and Namjoon leans into the touch.

“What are you doing up so early, baby?” Namjoon asks, voice low from disuse. It always surprises him when it goes lower than he expects it to, especially in the mornings.

“Missed you.”

Taehyung is like a kitten most mornings, pressing his face into the crook of Namjoon’s neck and nuzzling. Smells most like you here, he said when Namjoon asked why he liked that spot so much.

“I always miss you,” Namjoon says honestly. There’s something about Taehyung that makes Namjoon want to tell him how he feels about him all the time. So far, it’s always worked in his favor.

There’s a note of disappointment in Taehyung’s voice when he asks, “You making something?” and Namjoon smiles as he measures out one last spoon of misugaru into the waiting milk.

“For you. Just, as a thank you.”

Namjoon quickly twists the lid on the shaker and shakes back and forth to ensure no clumps form in the mean time. Taehyung turns to tuck his head against Namjoon’s shoulder blade then, and there’s no way Namjoon is distracted enough to not notice the scrape of teeth over his sleep shirt.

“Hyung,” Taehyung intones when it’s just silence between them again.

“Do you want it now or later?” Namjoon pauses, hand still over the lid of the shaker.

“Now. Want to drink it with you.”

Taehyung patters around the kitchen to grab ingredients for an Americano, pulling two shots right after their kettle begins to whistle. In the mean time, Namjoon grabs a glass from the cabinet and pours the misugaru over a bed of ice, drizzling some honey on top because this is Taehyung.

“It’s nothing, but well. Maybe it’s nice to go back to the basics,” Taehyung says when he presents a steaming mug to Namjoon, who’s now sitting in his place at their counter. He knows Taehyung’s caught him staring again, but to his credit he doesn’t say anything, just hands the coffee over with a patient smile.

Taehyung willingly waking up to prepare coffee for him will never be nothing to Namjoon, and he says as much to his flushed boyfriend.

“Thank you for doing this for me, hyung.”

“It’s just a misugaru latte, Taehyung-ah. Really just a misugaru, if you think about it,” Namjoon replies bashfully. He’s more surprised that this didn’t end with him getting powder all over their floor or milk on the outside of their cabinets. “You do more for me every day.”

“So silly, hyung. Take the picture and post it on Insta! Tag me too so I can put it on my story.”

Namjoon freezes. “What?”

Laughter tumbles from Taehyung’s lips in little waves. “The last picture you posted was of me wearing that god-awful cat costume last year. You need to start posting more often, babe.”

Namjoon just barely bites back his sigh of relief. Taehyung doesn’t know. Thank fuck, the lucky stars, the heavens above—Taehyung doesn’t know.

“Actually, Taehyung-ah, do you mind taking a photo of it for me? The lighting always comes out weird in my pictures, must be my hands or something.”

Taehyung shakes his head and tsks. “So needy, I swear. My baby hyung.”

The photo turns out better than anything Namjoon could’ve imagined. Taehyung insists on taking a few more photos just to be safe, and an extra of Namjoon holding it up with a finger heart that he immediately posts on his story.

Look who has the best baby hyung in the world.

 

 

And so 30 days passes by in the blink of an eye, six full weeks of Taehyung waking up like clockwork with Namjoon in the mornings and pressing cold toes into Namjoon’s calf as they catch up and laugh along with the rising sun.

Namjoon asks him when he's sitting at their counter sipping at a Cuban cortadito, complete in a tiny ceramic cup Taehyung must have bought recently, "What started all of this?"

"A couple different reasons." Taehyung shrugs from where he's sitting across from him and pushes his glasses up his nose. "I just missed seeing you."

"Oh, sweetheart."

Something funny flip flops in Namjoon's chest. Taehyung is right, before all this coffee making business, they hadn't been seeing each other much at all. Namjoon's work has him out of their apartment early in the morning while Taehyung often has gallery showings lasting deep into the night. In the beginning Namjoon had accompanied Taehyung to all of them before effectively burning out. One could only take late nights debating the beauty of linguistics and philology with Taehyung's artiste friends for so long before it started clashing with their concurrent 6am wake up call every morning.

Then just a few weeks ago, when Namjoon had insisted on being Taehyung's trophy boyfriend for the night at Sooyoung’s gallery showing, it had been the first time they’d gone out together in so long. And it was good. So good. Namjoon hasn’t felt Taehyung this close in so long, and he’s continually overcome with just how much love his heart seems to hold for one Kim Taehyung.

Mornings are for them, which is why it’s easy to slide over a bound cloth photo book one morning, smooth cream-colored ribbon tied in a bow around it. The cover is simple, a gold KTH stitched in the center that Taehyung smooths the tip of his index finger over.

“What is this?” Taehyung asks, voice small yet filled with wonder.

“Go on,” Namjoon encourages, rubbing a socked toe over Taehyung’s ankle.

He does. He loosens the ribbon with gentle fingers and flips open the cover, careful not to bend it so far back that it breaks the spine. Taehyung’s expression shifts from one of quiet excitement to one of glee, one of amusement, and finally the precious, unabashed smile that Namjoon loves so much.

Taehyung bites his lip and it’s only then that Namjoon notices it wobbling.

“You didn’t,” Taehyung breathes, awe coating every one of his words. “No you didn’t.”

He looks up at Namjoon with watery eyes, but Namjoon just shakes his head, jutting his chin forward.

“Keep going.”

And Taehyung does, pausing at every flipped page to study every single photo.

A matcha latte topped with creamy white foam and bright green matcha powder, milk warmed thanks to a warmer Namjoon caved and bought for the both of them after a week of Taehyung shooing Namjoon's hands away in his attempts to heat it up on the stove. You looked happy today when I kissed your temple, even though I ended up smearing milk into your hair. The matcha tasted like grass, but I hoped I tasted like you.

A mocha topped with a tiny mountain of whipped cream that had necessitated literally knocking on their neighbor's door for sugar because the mocha powder could only do so much. Every moment with you is sweeter than sweet.

A honey oat latte swirling amongst a cloud of the gourmet block ice Taehyung saw on Tik Tok a few weeks prior, accompanied by Namjoon's caption reading, Nothing holds a candle to my honey bear. Taehyung reads this one aloud, laughter tinkling in Namjoon's ears.

Taehyung frowns, pointing at the empty space below the photo of Namjoon's shoddy attempt at a misugaru latte from a few weeks earlier. "There's nothing there."

Namjoon nods and affirms with a quiet "You're right, there isn't," before taking a deep breath. "Every one of these pages is a combination of you and me, and it didn't seem fair to have the last word without your input."

The sweet pink lips that Namjoon loves to kiss so much part in a surprised 'o'. As if it's somehow shocking to think Namjoon could ever do anything at all without Taehyung. Life is easier with him in it, and life is that much more interesting with him leading the way. Namjoon just wants to follow, more often than not.

Taehyung smiles and sticks out a finger before getting up to grab a pen from one of the drawers in the kitchen, the one next to the utensils that holds everything they might ever come to need. His eyes shine with mirth, and Namjoon lets himself observe as Taehyung scribbles beneath the photo.

There is no baby without his baby hyung