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The Truth's Worth

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EPILOGUE

Day 23

“Yoongi! Yoongi!”

“Chairman Min, over here!”

“Who’s the woman in the relationship?”

“What do you have to say about your father’s interview?”

“How was your lunch with Princess Bora yesterday?”

“Yoongi, give us a smile for your fans!”

“Chairman Min, how’s your relationship with the Queen?”

“Which Queen? Queen Seokjin?”

The man guffaws with raucous laughter, thrusting his camera in Yoongi’s face before his new bodyguard unceremoniously shoves him aside to create a path to the door.

Yoongi expected the photographers camping outside of the Cypher building. He expected the homophobic slurs, the aggressivity and the calculated jabs meant to make him lose control and do something that would make for pictures dramatic enough that their taker wouldn’t have to work another day in their life after selling them.

Namjoon warned him. Seokjin warned him. Hell, even Jeongguk called him the day before to give him pointers on how to keep a straight face in public.

“Just pretend you’re holding in a fart,” His Royal Highness Prince Jeongguk told him, in all seriousness.

“Is that supposed to be helpful?” Yoongi said, deadpan.

“That’s actually not terrible advice,” Seokjin sniffed from where he was chopping onions at the kitchen counter. “How have I never thought of that?”

“How are you two next in line for the throne? We’re doomed,” Yoongi sighed, ignoring the brothers’ matching cries of protest.

He put the phone on the counter next to the chopping board and wrapped his arms around Seokjin from behind without acknowledging them, resting his cheek on his shoulder as Seokjin used the tears caused by the onions to pretend Yoongi had irreversibly maimed his ego.

“You’re an idiot,” he huffed, but he kissed Seokjin’s nape anyway.

So, he has been warned and prepared. Namjoon, unlike the family he works for, was professional about Yoongi’s training and made sure Yoongi was equipped to deal with everything that would be thrown his way by both paparazzi and unscrupulous journalists. At the time, Yoongi had privately deemed him too professional, but the simulations Namjoon made him go through are already proving to be useful.

Still, it takes every bit of the self-control Yoongi has painstakingly cultivated not to react. He has a strong urge to either glare at the photographers or shove their cameras in unfathomable places, but he knows it would only serve to make matters worse, for both him and Seokjin.

During their time away from the public’s eye, Namjoon either called or came over every day to give him and Seokjin a daily report on the world’s reaction to Seokjin’s coming out and the news of their relationship. It seems everyone and their dog has an opinion on it.

Seokjin’s coming out has received mixed reactions, though there has been, thankfully, many voices –politicians and artists and business tycoons and more, many Taehyung’s relations– speaking up in support of him. A mass of people have gathered in front of the palace with pride flags brandished over their heads like tokens of a victory they are far from being able to claim.

Because if, as Namjoon keeps repeating, the public is for the most part supportive and many of the opinion polls that have been conducted are marginally in favor of Seokjin keeping his title and his rightful place in the succession line, things are brewing in the shadows that do not bode so well.

Firstly, several conservative voices have risen in Parliament, either to deem Seokjin unfit to be King or to curse him for breaking the royal family’s apolitical position, though Namjoon was quick to release a statement to remind those people that Seokjin had only spoken for him and not his family and that Seokjin had made no political demands in regard to his public statement and never framed it as such. They all know it won’t be enough to ease any of Seokjin’s opposers because their true issue with his coming out has very little to do with constitutionality.

Secondly, the public may be supportive of Seokjin –out of devotion to the royal family or genuine progressive thinking, Yoongi isn’t sure, though he’s leaning towards the latter– but it is very undecided, if not entirely antagonistic when it comes to Yoongi.

The virulence wasn’t unexpected, but it doesn’t make it any less jarring.

He’s had trouble coming to terms with the fact that above and beyond everything else they could have imagined, he seems to be the worst liability for Seokjin in this whole ordeal. In the past weeks, he’s been branded unworthy and manipulative. He’s been called a loser, a parasite, an opportunist. Unfit, devious, evil.

It’s been implied by more than a few tabloids and a handful of other supposedly reputable newspapers that he might have seduced Seokjin and turned him gay, which at least had the merit of being a source of unending amusement for Seokjin.

Yoongi doesn’t know if he’s in denial or if he laughs about it because it’s better than the alternative.

And Namjoon had warned him about that, too, but it doesn’t mean Yoongi has to like it, the way their relationship is being picked apart and dissected by people even though no one has a single clue of everything that transpired between them. The photograph Taehyung posted on Christmas has been circulating again. It’s either printed on t-shirts for the people cheering for gay rights in front of the palace or repeatedly used every time the topic of their relationship is a matter of discussion because it’s the only picture of the two of them together that is available to the public. One commentator had accused Yoongi of being a terrible influence on the Crown Prince because he was holding –horror of all horrors– a glass of whisky in the picture.

No matter how he thinks about it, no matter how ridiculous and bigoted he knows all the terrible things that have been said and written about them to be, no matter how long Namjoon spent talking him through every insult and comment that would be thrown his way, Yoongi has had trouble not letting it affect him.

Because he knew what he was getting himself into, but it became clear after the first few days that he had barely surmised the cruelty one can face when sharing their truth.

It’s been three weeks, and Yoongi thought he would be desensitized at this point, but considering he is seriously pondering on whether or not he should punch that paparazzi and make him swallow his words and his homophobia along with it, it’s safe to say maybe he isn’t as numb to the whole thing as he thought he was.

Inhaling sharply, Yoongi elbows his way inside instead, breathing a sigh of relief when the doors to the building shut behind him and the security guards at the entrance deter the paparazzis from taking another step closer with matching glares.

“Well, that was something.”

Yoongi blinks and turns to face Suran, who is standing by the front desk with a smirk.

He groans, but accepts the quick hug she pulls him into. A series of flashes flares from the windows and Yoongi grits his teeth.

He can already picture the tabloids’ headlines:

PRINCE SEOKJIN DEVASTATED: MANIPULATIVE MIN ALREADY CHEATING?, underlined, of course, by a quote: “I thought I could trust him, even though he had a reputation as a bad boy,” says the brokenhearted Crown Prince, according to our nonexistent source.

Yoongi never harbored any lost love for this kind of pseudo-journalism before, but he’s come to find he profoundly detests it in the past few weeks.

He pulls Suran toward the elevator and away from the windows.

“Are you okay?” she asks.

Yoongi shrugs. “I think. It’s been weird.”

Suran grimaces. “I saw that your father gave an interview.”

That hadn’t been so great either, but that’s another thing Yoongi had been prepared for. His biological father is a true opportunist, after all, so at least he only spoke up in a show of support for Yoongi and Seokjin’s relationship. It was obvious to Yoongi –and to anyone with a modicum of common sense– that he was trying to take advantage of the situation to get into the royal family’s good graces. Yoongi hopes the formal letter Namjoon addressed him asking him not to get involved in private matters of the Crown in the future will be enough to make this an unfortunate one-time thing.

The elevator’s doors open with a ding and the small group of people inside gasp in unison as they see him standing there. Yoongi ignores them and motions for them to filter out, ignoring their unsubtle staring before he steps in with Suran.

“Yeah,” Yoongi mumbles once the doors have closed and it’s just the two of them. “We expected that to happen. It’s not the first time he tries to use my connection to the royal family for personal gain. It’s the first time he publicly admits to being my father, though, so that’s new.”

Suran’s brows dip in concern and she shuffles closer, resting a hand on Yoongi’s shoulder. “Are you sure you’re okay? It’s been brutal.”

“It’s only temporary,” Yoongi says in lieu of an answer. “Until they find another news story.”

Suran looks dubious, but she must catch the stubborn expression on Yoongi’s face because she nods, stepping out the elevator when it stops on the fifth floor. Yoongi follows her to the studio room where they are meant to greet the new trainees before leaving them in Hoseok’s capable and only vaguely torturous hands.

Even in the middle of this unrelenting storm, Yoongi feels a little giddy about going back to work. It’s not that he didn’t enjoy his time with Seokjin in the past three weeks, shielded from the rest of the world, but he needs a distraction and he knows no better one than making music, and helping others make it, write it, compose it. He needs the reminder that even if everything seems to be falling apart, he still has some form of stability in his life.

Seokjin and his family have been a great help to teach him to navigate these dark and unknown waters but Yoongi needs more than them to keep himself afloat. He needs this part of himself too, to remind himself that this is still his life, that he still holds some control over it and it hasn’t escaped him completely.

A pang of relief washes over him as he steps inside the dance studio. There’s a chaotic energy palpable in the air, mismatched voices singing songs that don’t marry, a few people stretching here and there, others standing in almost military stances waiting to be told what to do. In the back of the room, Hoseok is smiling reassuringly at one of the trainees, a young man that can’t be older than eighteen and whose eyes are wide with anxiety. He does give Hoseok a smile back and a determined nod, though, and Yoongi doesn’t need further proof that asking Hoseok to be in charge of the new trainees was a great idea.

As if on cue, Hoseok looks up as the door shuts behind Yoongi and Suran with a dull sound, and he lights up with a broad grin.

“Yoongles!” he exclaims, as though it’s been years since they last saw each other and not a mere couple of days. “Come here, you sucker!”

The turbulent spirit of the room depletes, and for a moment, it feels like time is suspended, everyone stopping what they are doing to stare at Yoongi, silence permeating the previous cacophony.

Hoseok doesn’t seem to realize it because he pulls Yoongi into a hug with a squeal of delight.

He only picks up on the odd atmosphere of the room when he pulls back, and his face twists into a frown. He takes a step back and surveys the trainees with an unimpressed expression.

“Stop staring at him like that, you creeps,” Hoseok huffs, rolling his eyes. “All he did was turn a man gay with the sheer force of his sex appeal, it’s not like he singlehandedly brought down an empire.” He smirks, devilish and proud. “That’s on next week’s program.”

Yoongi punches his shoulder, which prompts a loud laugh from Hoseok, a muffled snort from Suran and a hesitant chuckle from their small audience.

Things seem to settle down a little after that.

When he gets back to the lodge that night, bone tired but restless with agitation, Seokjin meets him at the door and envelops him into his arms, his lips pressed against Yoongi’s forehead.

“How was it?”

Yoongi shrugs and it’s a little awkward, tucked in Seokjin’s embrace as he is, but he isn’t about to move.

“Do you think I should use my superpower to turn the rest of the world gay too?” he asks, the words half muffled in Seokjin’s neck.

Seokjin laughs, the loud, cascading sound filling every inch of available space between them, and their bodies seem to sag against one another, the tension of the day seeping out of them.

Day 63

There is something ironic –or perhaps it is poetic– that their first official event as a couple is Jeongguk’s annual charity gala, Seokjin thinks.

In the back of the car taking them to the palace, Seokjin watches Yoongi fidget with his tie, tugging at it as though to prevent it from cutting off his air supply. He knows it isn’t Yoongi’s first charity gala, but this is far from attending as any other benefactor. Tonight, Yoongi will be sitting at the main table and they both know the focus will be on him. He knows, too, that although Yoongi’s self-esteem doesn’t lie in the public’s opinion of him, he’s been more affected than he admits it by the general dubiousness, if not disapproval, that has been flaunting around his name.

Seokjin idly wondered if his grandmother might have anything to do with it, but he knows that’s not it. The public have been accustomed to Seokjin since he was a child. They watched him grow. They watched him lose both his parents in the span of a year. They watched him take more responsibilities, step into his role as a future leader. They have, thus, some sort of odd and ineffable attachment to him. Seokjin anticipated that it would help after his coming out, that they could almost perceive him as a distant family member, having known him for so long. He never expected that whatever rejection they had to express over his being gay, whatever repulsion or unassumed bias, they would turn it against Yoongi.

Had he known, Seokjin doesn’t know whether he would have made the choices he did.

He shuffles a little closer to Yoongi, lacing their fingers together. Yoongi doesn’t say a word but he squeezes his hand tightly, rubbing his thumb against the back of Seokjin’s hand.

“Everything will be fine, Yoongi,” Seokjin says, mustering as much reassurance to his voice as he can. “If it helps, Hobi and Jimin will be seated at the next table.”

Yoongi gives him a brief glance and a small smile before turning back to the window, watching the hill leading to the lodge rapidly disappearing as they drive closer to the city.

Seokjin’s stomach lurches painfully.

“Baby,” he calls softly, and Yoongi blinks up at him. He tries to smile at Seokjin again, but it comes out as a forced grimace. “We can drive back to the lodge if you don’t want to go. We can watch a movie in our sweatpants and eat candy for dinner.”

“We can’t live locked in forever, Seokjin,” Yoongi says, though it sounds like he might regret it. “And you know they’ll blame me if you don’t show up to your brother’s gala this year.”

Seokjin swallows hard, his fingers twitching in Yoongi’s hold. “They don’t know what they’re talking about.”

Yoongi shrugs. “It doesn’t matter. They already went through how I let my mother die and how I fucked older men for their money and how I stole my company from poor Daehee. They’re going to start needing new reasons to hate me soon and I’d rather not give them one by keeping you away from your brother.”

He says it all in one breath, stubbornly avoiding Seokjin’s gaze.

Seokjin’s heart sinks, bile rising up his throat. He tugs on Yoongi’s hand until he reluctantly looks at him, lips pressed in a thin line.

“I’m sorry,” Seokjin says. “I knew they would be cruel, but I didn’t imagine it would be that bad. They’ve always been cruel to us, but it was more subtle, because being upfront about it would have stirred up a public outrage.” He shuts his eyes, shaking his head.

“Don’t start blabbering about how it’s all your fault or I’m going to get mad,” Yoongi says, but there is enough fondness in his eyes to stop Seokjin from spiralling into self-blame. “I’m just tired,” he sighs when Seokjin glances at him again, squeezing his hand. “I don’t regret it, okay? I promise.”

“Stop doing that,” Seokjin mutters begrudgingly. “I’m trying to comfort you, you can’t turn this around and comfort me instead, you sneaky demon.”

Yoongi huffs, a more genuine smile curling at the corner of his lips, and leans forward to press a sweet kiss to Seokjin’s lips.

Seokjin sighs. “I just want you to know that if you change your mind about this, be it today or later, if you decide to pull out of this, I won’t blame you, okay? If it’s too much–” He pauses, struggling to swallow past the lump in his throat, “–I’ll understand. I don’t want you to stay with me if you’re unhappy with this life. I don’t want you to wind up hating me.”

“I don’t hate you, you idiot,” Yoongi says bluntly, pointedly ignoring the scolding expression on Seokjin’s face. “I never will. And I’m not leaving you.” He inhales sharply. “But I guess...you should know you don’t have to stay with me either, if you don’t want to.”

Seokjin’s brows knit together. “What on earth are you talking about?”

Yoongi’s mouth twists into a grimace of hesitation but eventually he pulls his hand back to rub nervously at his ear instead. “You’re always saying that I can leave whenever I want, but you know you can change your mind about me too, right?”

The mere thought is so ludicrous Seokjin can only scoff in affront.

It doesn’t seem to placate Yoongi’s worries. “Come on, Seokjin. The public is mostly supportive of you. They still love you. Most of the bad comments that have stirred up in the past two months have stemmed directly from me. You know it as well as I do.” He laughs, but the sound is bitter, a little choked. “Here you were, worried about being a burden for me when I’m actually the fucking deadweight bringing you nothing but troubles with my shitty past and my fucking world record on poor decision making.”

“What? Yoongi, no!” Seokjin shuffles closer, cupping Yoongi’s face in his hands, smoothing the stern frown between his brows with the pad of his thumb. “Yoongi, I love you. I love you so much.”

But Yoongi isn’t looking at him, eyes resolutely set on the black screen separating them from the driver.

“You’d be better off with some fucking prince or just about any other queer man in the world. I’m sure there’s no shortage of volunteers,” he grumbles. “Probably some straight ones too, though I would not advise it. I’d be unhappy forever, probably, but I’d support you, you know?”

Seokjin rolls his eyes, squeezing Yoongi’s cheeks until his lips pucker in retaliation.

“I don’t want just about any other man in the world,” Seokjin says firmly. “I want you, you beautiful, magnificent asshole.”

“I don’t want to be the reason why you have to read or hear the shit you do,” Yoongi responds as well as he can with his cheeks squished between Seokjin’s fingers. “I don’t want to hold you back.”

Seokjin shakes his head. “How could you when you’re the sole reason why I can even picture a forward?”

Pink dust on Yoongi’s cheeks and he tries to draw back to hide it but Seokjin holds him firmly in place, sticking his tongue out at him when Yoongi frowns with discontent.

“You’re a giant sap.”

“You’re one to talk, Mister I’d-be-unhappy-forever-without-you,” Seokjin retorts with a cocked eyebrow.

Yoongi pulls a face, his nose scrunching up. Seokjin leans in to kiss it.

“Is that what’s been bothering you?” he asks, softer. “How what they dig up about you might reflect on me instead of what they actually dug up?”

Yoongi shrugs. “I don’t give a fuck what they have to say about me as long as you and I and the people we care about know the truth.”

Seokjin sighs. “It’s their convoluted way of getting to me. They can’t attack me directly without stirring public outrage, even more so since Jeongguk came forward about his mental health. The media knows the public backlash would be intense, so now that we are openly together, they can attack you instead.”

“But what is said about me still reflects on you.”

“That was the plan, Yoongi. I just never imagined it would be so bad.”

“Do you regret it?” Yoongi asks, and the intensity of his gaze makes Seokjin pause.

“Only when I see how it affects you.”

“Then don’t,” Yoongi says with unwavering certainty. “Because I don’t either.”

“Are you sure?”

“Positive. There’s nothing they can say I haven’t already told myself on my worst days, and those days are behind me.”

Seokjin smiles, relieved and a little stunned. “You’re really something, Min Yoongi.”

“I think you like that about me, Kim Seokjin.”

Seokjin hums in agreement, twisting his wrist lightly so the bezel catches the dimming lights outside, a little rainbow glimmering to life on the car’s roof.

The sound of a speaker turning on has them both startling.

“We’ll be arriving shortly, Your Royal Highness,” the driver tells them.

Seokjin thanks him, before turning back to Yoongi. “I love you, and you’re never getting rid of me.” He knows Yoongi catches the mischievous flicker in his eyes because he starts glaring before the next words are out of Seokjin’s mouth. “Unless, of course, Brad Pitt happens to show up tonight.”

“How easily you dismiss me and everything we’ve been through,” Yoongi says, deadpan, but the tone is belied by the small smile he is sporting.

Seokjin kisses it just as the car pulls to a halt. “You’re much prettier than Brad Pitt. Would trade my gay awakening for you anytime.”

“I don’t think that’s the compliment you seem to believe it is,” Yoongi huffs, but he kisses Seokjin back anyway.

When they draw back, their eyes drift to the doors of the palace. Jeongguk is standing up the stairs, greeting his guests with an amiable smile. At the roundabout where the cars stop one after the other, a small group of handpicked photographers are waiting patiently to snap pictures of the arriving guests.

Yoongi braces himself with a deep breath. “Do you remember when you went away for a month after we started seeing each other? Your diplomatic tour.”

Seokjin nods absently, toying with his cufflinks.

“One of the first times we called each other, I asked you what you’d do if you were a regular citizen for a day. Do you remember what you said?”

Seokjin blinks, his inside swiveling with realization. “I’m sure it was something very wise and profound.”

Yoongi rolls his eyes. “You said you’d like to hold hands with someone that you love and who loves you back.” He holds out a hand. Seokjin’s heart leaps in his chest as though to escape and fit itself in Yoongi’s palm. “What do you say?”

Seokjin slots their fingers together, unable to contain the pleased flush rushing up his face. “Yours is my favorite hand to hold, love.”

Yoongi doesn’t say anything about Seokjin being a sap this time.

Seokjin thinks it may be because the idea is entertaining to them both.

He plants one last kiss on Yoongi’s lips and calls for the driver to bring them forward.

A valet opens the door. Seokjin steps out, Yoongi following after him and their hands find each other again naturally.

When Seokjin turns to check if Yoongi is okay with the onslaught of flashes, Yoongi is already looking back at him. He looks better than he did when they left the lodge, a serene smile on his lips.

Seokjin decides at that moment that he wants to hold hands with him for the rest of his life, and he doesn’t care much if there is someone to watch them.

Day 64

Yoongi,

I had to leave early for a meeting. Just so you know, your handsome face is plastered all over the news this morning. Be ready for Hobi and Suran to tease you endlessly about it. I had no idea you looked at me like that, you giant sap.

There’s breakfast in the fridge.

Have a good day at work.

Love,

Seokjin.

Day 75

Seokjin,

I’ll be late tonight, don’t wait up for me.

Hobi said you two are having dinner together anyway and apparently I’m not invited. Please do not believe a single word coming out of his mouth. He’s a pathological liar.

Love you,

Y.

Day 101

Yoongi,

Why did Gukkie call me to say he’s having dinner with us tonight and you already knew? I thought tonight was date night? And when did you become his favorite?

Stabbed in the back by my own brother and boyfriend.

I am inconsolable.

(But I might be cheered up if you wear those jeans. You know the ones.)

Yours,

Seokjin.

Day 114

Jin,

Tae wants you to call him back. He said France is beautiful and he and Jiminie are flying back for Gukkie’s birthday next week. (What are we getting him, by the way?)

Also, I wouldn’t be your brother and cousin’s favorite if you learned to pick up your phone. Where are your manners, Your Royal Highness???

Chastising regards,

Yoongi.

Day 125

Love of my life,

Where’s my black leather belt with the silver hoop, you kleptomaniac asshole?

Love,

Seokjin.

Day 150

Jinnie,

Have a good day, baby.

See you tonight.

I love you,

Yoongi.

Ps: Sorry I didn’t come back to the lodge last night. I finished work late and my apartment was closer. Didn’t want to wake you up when I stopped by this morning.

Day 152

Yoongi,

Happy release day!

I’m so proud of you and I know it’s going to be an absolute masterpiece, even the songs you refused to let me listen to beforehand. Now I’ll have to hear them at the same time as everyone else and frantically refresh the page like a basic commoner. You’ve made me part of the plebs, Yoongi. You’ve succeeded, at last.

Expect a very plebeian congratulatory blowjob tonight.

Love,

The best muse you’ve ever had.

Day 167

Baby,

I’m sorry about last night. I wish I could say I didn’t mean any of it, but I promised to never lie to you. I really am sorry, though, about the way I expressed myself. Truth is I’m just a bit tired. With the new album and the company and everyone trying to make me spill which song is about you and what beef I have with your family and the media being up my ass about being away for your grandfather’s birthday...

It’s been a lot lately. I think I need a break before I do something else I might regret.

Call me when you wake up, okay?

I’m sorry.

I love you,

Yoongi.

Day 168

Yoongi,

I know it’s hard for you sometimes. Even though it’s not as virulent as it was at the beginning, I know you miss your old life and the tranquillity you had managed to find.

I wish there was something I could do to ease it, but I can’t change who I am and the only solution I seem able to conjure means letting you go, and I don’t think I can do that either.

I understand you need a break, though. I’ll give you some space to think about it, okay? I’ll stay at the palace for a bit. You can stay here or at your apartment. Let me know if that’s what you decide to do so I can assign a security team there.

I’m really sorry.

I love you, always.

Seokjin.

Day 174

Yoongi,

I stopped by to get some clothes but you weren’t there.

I miss you.

Take your time, though. No pressure. I just want you to know, because I don’t think I’ve told you enough, that I’ll fight for us for as long as there will be an ‘us’ to fight for.

I love you,

Seokjin.

 ♔

Day 186

Yoon,

You refused to get out of bed so I’m leaving a note for you to find when you get out of your cave and remember the way to the kitchen (drink some water, dumbass!).

Look, you clearly underestimated what you were getting into and that’s fine. It’s not something anyone could have anticipated, but you can’t half-ass this. So either take it as a whole or leave it, but for the sake of Gucci and everything holy, call your man!!! Jeonggukkie tells me he roams around the hallways of the palace looking like a kicked puppy and that’s just sad.

Call me if you need to talk.

Jimin.

 ♔

Day 190

Seokjin,

I hope Taehyung does what I asked and actually gives you this note, I think he’s mad at me.

I miss you all the time.

I don’t know if I can do this in the long run.

I miss you. I miss you. I miss you.

I want to do this in the long run.

Please don’t hate me if I’m not strong enough.

Come home. Let’s talk.

I want to fight for us too.

Yoongi.

 ♔

Day 192

Yoongi,

Is there any way to have makeup sex without the actual fighting part? Asking for a friend. Who’s me. I’m the friend.

I hate it when we fight but I do like it when we reconcile.

I’ve reached an impasse, as you see.

I love you endlessly at your worst, so imagine how much I do at your best.

Let’s fight.

Seokjin.

Day 201

Babe,

The apartment is officially up for sale and they’re bringing in the rest of my stuff to the lodge tomorrow. Jeongguk and Taehyung said they’d come with to help us redecorate, which I’m guessing means we’re going to have to feed them while you and I do all the work. Hoseok said he was willing to help in exchange for a knighthood, so I told him to fuck off.

Celebratory dinner tonight? I’ll book us a private room in that restaurant we went to for our double date with Hobi and Joonie.

Maybe I’ll even wear those jeans. You know the ones.

Love you,

Yoongi.

Day 237

Alright, I get it, no more coming over without warning you first.

Congratulations on scarring me for life, you kinky bastards, I didn’t think that was possible.

Love you both,

Taetae.

 ♔

Day 248

Seokjin,

I think the answer to world peace may lie in the way you look when you sleep.

Have a good morning. I’ll see you for lunch with your aunt.

Yours,

Yoongi.

 ♔

Day 295

Traitor,

I can’t believe Namjoon told you he was going to propose and you didn’t tell me!!!

Consider your boyfriend card revoked. I’m breaking up with you and eloping with Yeonjun. I always liked him better than you anyway and at least he worships me in all my royal glory as one should.

Farewell,

Seokjin.

Ps: We’re out of gummies. Thank you, love you.

Day 295

Yeonjun is twelve, asshole.

(Gummies are in the pantry. Love you too.)

Day 361

If Seokjin is impressed about one thing above any other as he steps into the grand hall of the former library where his best friend is about to get married, it isn’t about the combination of starkly modern and beautifully preserved ancient. It isn’t either about the gorgeous arrangements of white and pale yellow flowers tastefully placed around the room and up the stone walls to guide the eye to the magnificent, stained glass ceiling. It isn’t, even, about the stunning matching suits the grooms are wearing, pale blue and lilac which are reminiscent of the rare breed of the lotus flowers that flourish in the small pond in the garden of their home.

No, if Seokjin is impressed about anything, it is the fact that Namjoon seems to have managed to keep this wedding a relatively intimate affair, despite his fiancé and soon-to-be husband’s proclivity for grandeur.

“It was actually his idea. He was mostly joking when he said he wanted a grand royal wedding,” Namjoon tells him after Seokjin points it out. He’s fiddling with his tie in front of a full-length mirror. “The only thing I had to fight him on was us wearing crowns. I thought he was joking about it, but it came up often enough in the conversation that I started having doubts.”

Seokjin laughs and steps closer, swatting Namjoon’s hands away so he can finish doing his tie for him. He takes a step back, resting both his hands on Namjoon’s shoulders.

“How are you feeling?”

Namjoon’s smile is filled with such happiness it warms Seokjin’s core.

“Like I’ve been waiting my whole life for this day.”

Seokjin can’t help but swell up with pride, a grin spreading on his face. “You look happy.”

“I am,” Namjoon says without hesitation. “Are you? Have you talked to Yoongi about what you told me last week?”

“Not yet,” Seokjin says. “I talked to Gukkie, though.”

“He’s been doing great, you know?”

“I know.” Seokjin nods. “I’m not worried about that. I wouldn’t even be considering this otherwise.”

“I talked to my contact in Parliament. She said she and a trusted group of parliamentarians can meet you both anytime that you find suitable.”

Seokjin hums. “Not before I’ve talked to Yoongi. I’ll do it before the end of next week, I promise. I just need to confirm a couple of things with Guk first. I’m still unsure about the whole thing.”

“I’ve seen him in action,” Namjoon says, smiling serenely. “He takes after you a lot. You’ve raised him well.”

“I’ve raised an ungrateful brat who likes my boyfriend more than me,” Seokjin retorts, but he can’t help the smile curling his lips upward. “Gukkie goes to him for advice about politics. He asked Yoongi to help him organize this year’s gala. They have dinner dates where they don’t invite me, Joon. And when they do invite me, I’m the third wheel.”

“I know you’re trying to sound annoyed, but it doesn’t really work when you’re smiling like an idiot,” Namjoon points out like the traitor he is. “I know you’re glad they get along.”

Seokjin pouts. “My babies, Joonie,” he whines. “They love each other. It’s so sweet.”

Namjoon chuckles, clasping a hand on his shoulder. “You’ll be fine no matter what you decide, and so will they.”

Seokjin nods, smiling. And then he frowns, realization dawning on him.

“Wait, why are you reassuring me on your wedding day? It should be the other way around. And why does this keep happening?”

“Because you’re a fucking trainwreck,” Namjoon says matter-of-factly. “And that is the curse I live with. There is no day off for me.”

Seokjin rolls his eyes. “That’s a tad dramatic, Joonie. I think those wedding nerves might have grilled some of your neurons after all.”

“I don’t have wedding nerves,” Namjoon answers honestly. “Nor do I need reassurance. I’m marrying Jung Hoseok, I’m really nailing this whole thing.”

Seokjin huffs out a laugh, patting Namjoon’s arm. “Let’s get you hitched, you big loser.”

When Seokjin hugs both Namjoon and Hoseok at the altar, Hoseok makes a point of looking him up and down and raises an eyebrow in mock offense.

“So I can’t wear a crown, but it’s perfectly normal for you and Jeonggukie to show up to my wedding in full uniform, huh?”

“We thought the occasion warranted the proper decorum you deserve, as extended members of the royal family,” Seokjin answers with a conniving wink.

Hoseok swats his shoulder, batting his eyelashes. “Flattery will get you everywhere, darling.”

Seokjin chuckles and squeezes his hand before walking away to take his place at Namjoon’s side, standing in front of Yoongi, who looks particularly dapper in his three-piece suit.

The ceremony is a quiet, graceful affair. Jimin, who got notarized to officiate the wedding, gives a sweet, giggly and tearful speech about love and happiness and finding your person, and Seokjin’s eyes are searching Yoongi’s over Hoseok’s shoulder without him having to think about it. He finds Yoongi already gazing intensely back at him and gives him a little wink. Yoongi’s answering smile is a wide, unspoken but bold statement of adoration.

His heart swelling with pride for his friends and devotion for this man, Seokjin makes up his mind.

The reception is held in the back lawn of the house Namjoon and Hoseok purchased earlier in the year, which is unsurprisingly flourishing with nature. A full string ensemble is performing to add to the ethereal sense of peace floating in the air. A large tent has been built to shelter the dining tables and after catching up with Namjoon’s mother, who is beaming with pride, Seokjin saunters under the tent. He finds Yoongi sitting with Jeongguk and Taehyung, their heads drawn together as they chat, Seokjin’s brother and cousin grinning from ear to ear like the pair of devils Seokjin knows them to be while Yoongi glowers at the two of them.

“What are you tormenting him about now?” Seokjin asks as he stands next to Yoongi’s chair, resting a hand on his shoulder. “That’s supposed to be my job.”

Yoongi grabs it and pinches it in retaliation, though the effect is lost when he immediately presses a kiss against Seokjin’s palm before lacing their fingers together, his index brushing idly against Seokjin’s pulse point and the bracelet of his watch. Seokjin kicks Jeongguk’s shin when he pretends to gag at the sight.

“We were just telling Yoongi how you two didn’t even need to have a proper wedding to become a boring old married couple,” Taehyung says unapologetically.

“We’ve had enough twists and turns to last us a lifetime,” Seokjin replies. “Let us be boring in our old days now.”

“We’re barely thirty,” Yoongi says, matter-of-fact.

“I know,” Seokjin laments. “I found my first grey hair the other day. It’s all slow decay from here, love. I can already feel my muscles weakening with every passing day, you’ll have to feed me my dinner soon.”

A smirk tugs at the corner of Yoongi’s lips but before he can answer the undoubtedly crude innuendo at the tip of his tongue, Jeongguk is shrieking a boisterous, “Don’t!” that have a few heads turning their way and Taehyung cackling loudly.

The sound is quickly swallowed by music, louder than the string quartet has been all afternoon, as the happy couple walks to the dance floor for the first dance.

Seokjin watches fondly as Namjoon follows Hoseok’s lead a little awkwardly, endearing in the stiffness of his every move. Hoseok doesn’t seem to mind at all, swaying the two of them to the music with natural grace, whispering words none of them can hear but that seem to banish Namjoon’s discomfort with disconcerting ease.

Time flows by, and between the obligatory socialization and Hoseok and Jimin teaming up to force him onto the dancefloor, it’s already late into the night when Seokjin finds Yoongi again, smoking a cigarette by the pond, away from the rest of the crowd. Some of the wedding guests have begun filtering out, and the pond is secluded enough from the agitation of the celebration that Seokjin doesn’t feel shy about wrapping his arms around Yoongi from behind and tucking his chin on his shoulder.

Seokjin can’t see his face in this position, but he can feel the way Yoongi’s cheeks lift with a smile as he leans his head against Seokjin’s shoulder.

“Didn’t you quit?” he asks, voice low as to not disturb the feeble peace they have found, just a few feet away from the raging party where, before Seokjin stepped away, Jimin had somehow managed to coerce Hoseok and Jeongguk in a very competitive game of limbo.

“Mmh. I just needed a break from all the social interactions and smoking was a good excuse.”

Seokjin huffs out a quiet laugh, burying his nose in Yoongi’s neck.

They lapse into silence for a while, enjoying the balmy breeze of the night and the peace that always seems to envelop them when they manage to detach themselves from the rest of the world.

It’s Yoongi who breaks the quiet eventually. 

“I really like the uniform,” he says, the smirk evident in his voice. He runs his hands over the sleeves of Seokjin’s jacket, thumb pressing over the bezel of his watch.

It doesn’t glimmer with rainbow lights in the darkness, but Seokjin hasn’t needed the precious guidance of its hues to be proud of who he is in a while.

He lifts an eyebrow, a smile curling on his lips.

“I didn’t know uniforms did it for you. That’s not very antimilitarist of you, love.”

“Can’t be a good activist every day, Jinnie,” Yoongi replies, playful. “Let me have this.”

Seokjin snorts, leaning forward to press a chaste kiss on Yoongi’s cheek and whisper, not so chastely against his ear, “You can definitely have it as soon as we get home.”

He presses a wet kiss against Yoongi’s pulse point, gingerly tightening his grip on his waist. “But you should know it might be one of the last times I wear it.”

Yoongi slips around into his arms and gazes up at him, his dazed expression morphing into confusion. “Why?”

Seokjin chews on his bottom lip. He inhales sharply and casts a quick look over his shoulder to make sure no one can hear them.

“There’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while and I’d like us to talk about it, not necessarily now but maybe tomorrow.”

“What is it?” Yoongi asks, soft and supportive and oh, how Seokjin thanks the storm that brought this man into his life.

“It’s still just an idea. I just started talking about it with Gukkie this week,” Seokjin breathes out. “But I think I want to dismantle the monarchy.”

Yoongi blinks. “Oh.”

“And I want to abdicate first.”

Yoongi’s lips part slightly, and Seokjin chews nervously at the inside of his cheeks, waiting for his reaction. The shock is ephemeral.

Yoongi heaves out a deep sigh. “Oh, thank God,” he says, and it takes a moment too long for Seokjin to catch the mirth tugging at the corner of his lips. “You’d make a shit king.”

It manages to startle a laugh out of Seokjin. “Fuck you, Min Yoongi.”

“Right now?” Yoongi retorts, his fingers brushing teasingly at Seokjin’s neck, sending little shocks of shivers along his spine. He quickly sobers up, his face falling into a mask of gravity. “But seriously, if that’s what you want, I’ll support you, you know that. I’m not sure I’m the best person to talk to about it, though. I’ve seen too closely all the bad ways this life affects you and I’d jump at the occasion to get you out of it.”

Seokjin nods. “I would still be involved in the dismantlement. I just don’t think I can be king, even to be the last. He said yes before I was even done talking, but I told him to take some time to think about it.”

“His answer will be the same the next time you ask. It will be the same as mine,” Yoongi says. “We both love you too much to want you to live a life where you will never be content.”

“I’m quite content right now,” Seokjin opines with a playful squeeze at Yoongi’s hips.

“That’s because you’ve had too much to drink and you’re a hopeless horny drunk.”

“No,” Seokjin says, shaking his head, “it’s because I’ve had a pretty great day with relatively decent people.”

Very relatively decent,” Yoongi agrees.

“I’ve had a pretty great day with decadent people I love dearly,” Seokjin amends.

Yoongi smirks, fingers toying idly with the soft hair at the back of Seokjin’s head. “Speaking of decadence,” he says, his voice dropping to a low octave that has Seokjin’s gaze on him darkening in a matter of seconds, “I do know where the key to Namjoon’s and Hoseok’s room is and I think you owe it to them for that time they locked themselves up in your bedroom when they got together. It’s a matter of pride.”

Seokjin stares at him for a moment, studies the heat in Yoongi’s eyes, and everything else he can read in them; adoration and playfulness and a world of happiness.

“You really like the uniform, uh?”

Yoongi takes a step back and grabs his hand to unceremoniously –albeit slowly enough as to not raise suspicion– drag him toward the main house.

“Shut up, Your Royal Highness.”

Seokjin laughs and he lets himself be guided, Yoongi’s grip firm on his hand.

He’s thirty, there is a man, and Seokjin follows him in the darkness and feels at the tip of his fingers the dreams he had abandoned.

Day 605, and many, many days after that.

There’s a storm brewing in the distance.

Heavy clouds are hanging over their heads like a dark omen, filtering across the sky and disappearing behind the lustrous hills of New Zealand, swallowing the morning sun entirely.

The scenery reminds Yoongi of one of Jeongguk’s paintings, ethereal enough that it looks hand-crafted, light and shadow fighting for dominance to bathe the beds of wild flowers and untamable nature in beautiful glows.

It’s early in the morning but everyone is already up and about. From his comfortable spot in the hammock under the patio’s roof, Yoongi watches Seokjin, Namjoon and Uncle Sanghoon roam through the garden, marvelling at the white blossoms bringing sparkles to the early summer air.

His observation is interrupted by a chirp of laughter and Yoongi cranes his neck to find Jeongguk, in all his majesty, promptly dumping the rest of the water in the can he was using on the herb garden on top of a pyjama-clad Taehyung, who gasps in shock and leaps out of his seat at the breakfast table, promising vengeance at the top of his lungs.

Jeongguk runs straight to Seokjin and hides behind his back, giggling like a child. If Yoongi hadn’t attended his coronation ceremony himself, the sight would certainly make him question his royal status.

“Are you going to save your man?” Hoseok asks as he sinks into the loveseat next to Yoongi’s hammock, face smeared with sunscreen. They watch as Seokjin’s eyes widen and he raises his hands to protect himself. It’s vain, Taehyung edging closer with a newly acquired bucket of water and murderous intent in his gaze.

“Hell no,” Yoongi mutters lazily. “I’m good exactly where I am, where I will be staying dry and blameless. They’re his brats, he deals with them.”

Hoseok snorts. “Funny how they’re only his brats when they’re being little shits.”

Yoongi nods, vindicated. “My point exactly. Where do you think they get it from?”

“Who gets credit for him, then?” Hoseok says with a cocked eyebrow, pointing a finger at Jimin, who is stealthily creeping closer to Jeongguk and Seokjin, unbeknownst to them both.

He bolts a loud “Aha!” as he jumps at them and promptly soaks them both with the hose, before sharing a triumphant high-five with Taehyung.

Yoongi smiles to himself as Seokjin lets out an indignant yelp, glancing at the furies, mouth agape while Sanghoon and Namjoon make a swift and wise retreat.

Yoongi has a hard time hiding his smile when a drenched Seokjin stomps up to them a while later.

“Yoongi, tell your kids they’re grounded,” he grumbles as he lifts his t-shirt to wipe at his face, which is useless considering his clothes are in no better shape.

Despite his best will, Yoongi doesn’t get to be distracted by the quick show of golden skin and defined muscles because Hoseok, whose life goal of ruining Yoongi’s joy hasn’t changed with marriage, guffaws obnoxiously and reaches out to poke at Yoongi’s ass through the tented material of the hammock. Yoongi tries to swat his hand away, but it’s a hard feat in his current position.

“I invite them to spend the holiday with us at our house and all I get is disrespect,” Seokjin continues, lips puckered into a pout.

“Well, you did initially buy the house for them,” Yoongi remarks.

Seokjin makes an unhappy noise in the back of his throat, like Yoongi’s response is such a grand betrayal his body is physically rejecting it.

“Et tu, Yoongi? You, the love of my life? Stabbing me in the back like this?”

He takes a step closer and Yoongi raises both his hands to stop him.

“Don’t,” he says, as firmly as he can muster.

“And now you reject my affection?” Seokjin exclaims dramatically. “After everything we’ve been through together?”

“I love you?” Yoongi offers placatingly.

Seokjin’s outrage depletes and he turns desolated eyes to Hoseok. “I hate it when he does that.”

“I know, right?” Hoseok sighs, though his offended grimace is short-lived and replaced by a soft smile when Namjoon walks up to them and scoots down to press a kiss on his forehead. He doesn’t protest when Namjoon pulls him to his feet and leads him into the garden to show him how well one of the trees he planted on their first visit has grown.

“See?” Seokjin says accusingly, pointing a finger at their retreating friends, which would look more impressive if water wasn’t dripping from his hair and onto the elegant slope of his nose. “Are you going to leave me all alone in my torment while the boring married couple is right here being disgustingly in love, Yoongi? Are you going to let them beat us?”

“Yes, I am,” Yoongi replies, unrepentant. “I don’t want to get wet.”

“Do you think I wanted to get wet? I am a victim. I was betrayed, Yoongi! By my own blood, no less. My own flesh. The kids I have raised all on my own for years. My–”

“You’re going to guilt trip me into this, aren’t you?” Yoongi huffs, already defeated.

Seokjin ignores him and opens his mouth to rant some more but Yoongi rolls his eyes and grabs the hem of Seokjin’s shirt, pulling him down and into the hammock with him before he can. Seokjin makes a surprised noise, even though Yoongi has a strong suspicion that it was his plan all along, and shuffles awkwardly until he’s comfortable, kneeing Yoongi in the thigh in the process. Once settled, he wraps his arms around Yoongi’s waist, squeezing tightly.

“You’re an asshole,” Yoongi mutters, pouting when he feels the dampness of Seokjin’s clothes transfer to his own.

Seokjin grins, mischievous and unapologetic, and plants a kiss on Yoongi’s cheek. “You’re so embarrassing.”

Yoongi cocks an eyebrow, going cross-eyed as he draws his head back in a poor attempt at a glare. “I’m embarrassing?”

Seokjin hums in agreement and kisses his nose. “You have such a big crush on me, you loser.”

“Yeah,” Yoongi sighs. “I do.”

They stay just like this for a while, a peaceful silence falling over them.

Yoongi goes back to his observation and wonders how he got to this point, how his life went from attending a charity gala at the royal palace three years ago to this hammock lost in the wilderness of New Zealand, surrounded by people who became friends and family and anchors against the most battering storms.

He thinks about all the choices that brought him here, all the bad decisions in his life that somehow led him into making this one, into accepting this reality and this life as the one where happiness isn’t a battle to be fought anymore because it’s here, tangible, cuddled up into his arms, tinkered into the air, permeated with laughter and quiet in equal measures.

He closes his eyes, and lets himself be engulfed by the feeling, lets his heart rest, content at last.

“Hey, Yoongi?” Seokjin mutters.

Yoongi opens one eye sleepily and looks down, almost knocking his head with Seokjin’s.

“Mmh?”

“Tell me something true.”

Yoongi smiles, nuzzles against Seokjin’s forehead before pressing a kiss there.

“I love you.”

Seokjin hums in satisfaction, tightening his grip on Yoongi’s waist. “I love you.” He’s silent for a moment, head resting in the crook of Yoongi’s neck and Yoongi almost thinks he’s fallen asleep when he speaks again. “Baby, do you want to do something spontaneous and incredibly stupid?”

Yoongi feels his mouth tugging upward, his heart beating a new rhythm in his chest, attune to the rise and fall of Seokjin’s chest against him.

“Always.”

“We should get married,” Seokjin says absently, almost an afterthought.

Yoongi blinks, eyebrows raising to his hairline. Seokjin doesn’t gaze back at him, purposely avoiding his gaze, his ears a furious red.

Yoongi smirks, and brushes his lips against them. “What’s in it for me now that you’re never going to be king, though? It puts a dent in my world domination plans.”

Seokjin titters, the vibrations of his laughter echoing in Yoongi’s chest like an enticing melody. Yoongi has written songs about this very laugh, and he’ll write more, he knows.

“Apart from waking up next to my gorgeous face every day for the rest of your life? Absolutely nothing.”

Yoongi licks his lips, biting on his tongue to temper the grin threatening to take over his whole face. “Deal.”

Seokjin’s answering smile is bright enough to rival the sun beams peeking behind the heavy clouds.

“We can plan a secret ceremony when we get back home.”

“Or,” Yoongi says, dragging the word out as his eyes roam over the garden, “we could get married today, because Jimin is ordained.”

Seokjin stares at Yoongi for a moment, gaze shifting over his face as if seeking a hint that he is joking. He must find none, because he leans in and gives Yoongi a long kiss, woven with passion and love and a world of promises Yoongi knows they will do their very damn best to keep.

Seokjin is still grinning when he pulls back and shouts, “Hey, Jiminie?”

Jimin, who is laying on the grass, his head resting on Taehyung’s stomach, whose head is resting on Jeongguk’s thigh, the three of them breathing heavily after chasing each other through the wide garden, looks up lazily.

“Do you have a minute?”

“Sure,” Jimin says, pushing himself up on his elbows. Yoongi pointedly ignores the fact that if he had been the one asking, Jimin would have promptly told him to get lost. “What do you need, Jinnie?”

Seokjin motions vaguely between him and Yoongi.

“Can you marry us?”

There’s a moment of silence which Yoongi takes some time to savor before all hell breaks loose.

“What?” Jeongguk and Taehyung shriek in the same voice, just as Hoseok comes running from where he and Namjoon had wandered in the garden.

“Did I hear that right?”

“I quit,” Namjoon grumbles under his breath, pinching the bridge of his nose, but it is all belied by the glee in his eyes he cannot quite conceal.

Jeongguk has stepped closer, his shadow looming over the hammock. “You didn’t ask me for his hand,” he says firmly, because no royal status can take the impishness out of him. “You’re a grandpa, you should know better.”

“Shut up, kid,” Yoongi grumbles, rolling his eyes.

“It’s Your Majesty to you,” Jeongguk retorts, more out of habit than true disparagement.

“Are you sure you can’t steal the throne back from him?” Yoongi mumbles, pressing a kiss at the top of Seokjin’s head.

“Nah,” Seokjin says. “He can keep the throne. All I want is you.”

Yoongi scrunches up his face to hide the warm flush creeping up his face, but he leans in to press a kiss to his mouth, before burying his nose in Seokjin’s hair.

“Who’s embarrassing now?”

“You’re both embarrassing. It’s honestly a nightmare,” Jeongguk replies matter-of-factly. His features soften, and Yoongi’s heart grows, thrives, blooms. “I love you both.”

Seokjin reaches out to grab Jeongguk’s wrist and squeezes gently. “We love you too, Gukkie.”

Yoongi grumbles his assent, just as Taehyung barrels into them, eyes wide, the hammock rocking dangerously.

“As the one who dragged Jinnie along to that art gallery and got you two together, I call dibs on being best man. Too late I said it, no take back.”

Namjoon and Jeongguk both protest vehemently as Seokjin barks out a laugh, tightening his grip over Yoongi’s waist. 

It’s chaos, of course, but Yoongi has come to associate it with the fullness of life. It turns the warmth in his chest into something precious, tangible. Into enough, always enough.

It makes sense of the past, of his collection of bad decisions, of his heartbreaks and his scars.

It’s chaos, and it brings peace that lodges itself in Yoongi’s heart, safely locked.

It’s chaos, and it creates a vision of tomorrows that might not be peaceful, but Yoongi knows he will cherish them all the same way he cherishes the man laughing with malicious delight against his ear.

There’s a storm brewing in the distance.

Yoongi will greet it like an old friend when it comes.