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Namjoon is so apologetic that, at first, Yoongi thinks there’s been a repeat of the Accidental File Deletion Incident of 2015. Yoongi is already taking a deep breath and trying to see this as an opportunity to showcase some personal growth. Or at least to make sure that there’s no yelling or tears this time.

Yoongi has to quickly recalibrate when, instead, Namjoon asks Yoongi to take over production on his friend Taehyung’s second album. “Hyung, I really wouldn’t ask, but there’s been some delays and now his label says he needs to have at least six tracks by the end of July. You know I won’t be back until August.”

“Is Taehyung-ssi okay with it?”

Namjoon’s apologetic expression is briefly eclipsed by something lighter, almost amused. “Oh yeah. Taehyung loves your music.”

Yoongi shrugs. “Okay.”

It’s an easy decision. Yoongi’s never met Taehyung, but he’s Namjoon’s friend, and it’s Namjoon who is asking. Namjoon had produced Taehyung’s first album and was the obvious choice for this one as well, but Namjoon has also been unexpectedly offered the chance to open for a big western artist on the Asian leg of their tour. He’s been scrambling to reschedule as much of his production commitments as he can. Of course Yoongi will help him.

Yoongi is so proud of Namjoon. Proud of how he’s finding greater and greater success for his own music - thriving on the stage in a way that Yoongi hadn’t. It’s been two years since Yoongi released anything of his own, and more than twice that since he performed live. He feels the absence sometimes, a little ache that follows him even while he’s doing the production work he loves, and Yoongi knows that for Namjoon it means even more. For Namjoon, missing this chance would be worse than some wistful regret.

“Are you sure, hyung? They- It’s a small company. It’s not going to be a lot of money.”

“That’s fine, Joon-ah.”

It’s not only wanting to help Namjoon that makes it an easy decision. Yoongi listens to everything that Namjoon releases at least once. Just once in some cases. But Yoongi has come back to Taehyung’s first album many times, always finding something interesting even though it’s not really the kind of music Yoongi usually makes himself, or even typically enjoys.

The album is lo-fi, almost unstructured musings on different aspects of life - thoughtful, optimistic, and a little sad. Nothing like the lushly produced pop songs that pay Yoongi’s rent, or the hard hitting underground rap tracks Yoongi collaborates on in his free time.

But Yoongi can see why the album was a relative hit, positively reviewed by any publication that bothers with small releases and beloved by its fans. Yoongi had told Namjoon how good it was at the time, but Namjoon, modest as always, had brushed it off. “I just follow Taehyung’s ideas and make sure they get recorded the way he wants.”

Yoongi’s sure that isn’t true, and if there’s one thing that might make him hesitate in accepting this assignment, it’s losing Namjoon’s unique voice as a producer. But, for better or for worse, Yoongi’s ego when it comes to music has never been small. He’s sure he can make something great with Taehyung too. Even before this, Yoongi has thought about would he do with Taehyung’s voice.

Because, after the surprising arrangements, and off-beat lyrics, the biggest draw is Taehyung’s unique timbre, so different from the carefully trained voices Yoongi usually works with. On that first album, Taehyung didn’t perform any particular vocal tricks, using his words almost sparingly, and often letting silence or a single sound fill the track, but that only emphasized his striking sound.

“Well, if you’re really okay with it…” Namjoon seems hesitant, but Yoongi can also see the growing relief.

It’s going to be a pretty tight turn around with the other projects Yoongi has already booked - the ones that will actually pay his rent, but it’s nothing Yoongi can’t manage. “Joon-ah, it’s fine. Go show the world how amazing you are.”

After Namjoon’s embarrassed bluster at that bit of praise dies down, he says, “Just- When you’re working with Taehyung- Have you ever heard of improv?”

“Improv…” Yoongi repeats slowly. “Like, jazz?”

“No. Well- sort of. Like as a kind of acting technique, I guess?”

“No? Is Taehyung an actor?”

“No, but um. I read about improv a few years ago when I was dating that girl that did stand-up, you remember her?”

“Yes.” Yoongi has lost the thread of the conversation, but after years of working with Namjoon he’s learned patience. Somehow it will tie together in the end.

“Right. So in improv, you work with a partner to create. They make something up about the scene you’re doing together. Then you have to go along with it and add your own part. You’re always supposed to accept what they give you and build on it. So it’s like, ‘Yes, and…’ That’s how you approach it.”

“Okay…” Yoongi says, still confused.

“That’s kind of how you need to be with Taehyung. He’s a little different, but if you just follow him, and build on his ideas, you’ll end up somewhere great. Just, ‘Yes, and…’”

That’s when Yoongi feels the first hint of apprehension. It’s not like he doesn’t listen to his artists, although he does expect them to listen to him in turn, but the fact that Namjoon feels the need to offer this long explanation is worrying. It’s too late to back out now, and if Namjoon had managed to make something great with this guy, so can Yoongi. “I’m sure we’ll be fine.”

“Yes,” Namjoon says, not sounding quite as sure. “Well, if anything comes up, you guys can always call me.”

“We’ll be fine,” Yoongi says more firmly. “You need to concentrate on your tour.”

#

In retrospect, it probably would have been better if Namjoon could have been there for their first meeting. To make all the necessary introductions and smooth over any initial awkwardness. But Namjoon is already out of town by the time Yoongi has time to meet, pushing through a couple of other projects to clear his schedule for this initial coffee and the work to come. Of course, Yoongi usually doesn’t need someone to hold his hand. Not when it comes to music. With music, Yoongi has a purpose, and with a purpose none of his personal awkwardness or shyness matters.

But in this case, something is throwing Yoongi off.

Well, not an unidentified something. Taehyung. Taehyung is throwing Yoongi off.

It’s not that Taehyung is shy or awkward. Nor does Taehyung seem worried about the last minute change to working with a stranger. Yoongi had been prepared to soothe that kind of worry. Honestly, (shamefully), Yoongi would probably be more at ease if Taehyung was less so, but Taehyung is perfectly confident, smiling brightly at Yoongi as he sweeps up to Yoongi’s table with long, graceful strides.

Taehyung’s confidence makes perfect sense, because…wow.

Normally, Yoongi doesn’t give much thought to looks. It’s not that Yoongi considers himself particularly enlightened, but, like shyness, looks don’t matter to music. A person can be beautiful or plain, but if they have smart lyrics, or good beats, or a lovely voice, what does it matter?

Of course, that’s not how it works for the idols that provide most of Yoongi’s income. There, looks matter very much, but it’s not Yoongi’s job to worry about it. By the time Yoongi gets involved, someone else has already plucked the rarest blooms from the masses and carefully cultivated their natural beauty with procedures, surgeries, lotions, and things Yoongi probably can’t imagine. Yoongi works with very beautiful people regularly and he hardly notices it, except for having to occasionally coax someone to hit a note even though they might not look perfectly pretty while doing so. Taehyung shouldn’t be any surprise.

It’s only that Yoongi hadn’t given any thought to what Taehyung would look like. The cover of Taehyung’s first album was an artistic black and white photo of a puddle. The one music video Yoongi had found was more artistic footage of Seoul on a rainy day, shot with what appeared to be an old camcorder.

Both the video and the album cover were nice. They fit the mood of the music. Before Yoongi had seen Taehyung, he thought they were a good choice. Now, he thinks the promotions team should have insisted on Taehyung’s face instead. They would have easily sold another thousand albums.

Someone on that team had dropped the ball and Yoongi blames them for the long pause that opens up as Taehyung sits across from him at the little café table.

“PD-nim?” Taehyung asks, a flicker of worry creasing his perfect features at Yoongi’s absurd, dry mouthed silence.

Yoongi forces himself into action. “Yes, sorry, Taehyung-ssi. It’s nice to meet you, I enjoyed your first album very much.”

“Really?” Taehyung brightens.

A brighter Taehyung is even more difficult to handle. Yoongi only manages a gruff, “Yes, really.”

“That means a lot coming from you, PD-nim.”

Yoongi waves that away. He doesn’t need any flattery to do his best for Taehyung, and frankly, he’s not sure his pounding heart could handle it anyway. “How do you want to do this?”

Yoongi has his own preferred ways of working, honed through years of repetition - beat first, melody next, lyrics last, and then endless tweaking until it’s just right, but he’s worked with enough other people to know that there are different preferences.

Taehyung looks a little taken aback. “Well…don’t you think we should get to know each other? If we’re going to make art together?”

Yoongi blinks at him. Yoongi has made plenty of music for people he’s never met. Not even once. He’s had a years long productive relationship with a guy living abroad in Canada, who Yoongi communicates with strictly by KakaoTalk or email. He only knows what the man’s speaking voice sounds like from mutters to himself on rough demos.

But he remembers what Namjoon had said - ‘yes, and’ or whatever. And, it’s not like Yoongi is unfamiliar with the way some people need to have more than an email to feel comfortable. That usually manifests as a perfunctory coffee (which is what Yoongi thought this was), or worse yet, a meeting in a soulless corporate conference room. Still, Yoongi can be flexible. “Um, sure.”

Taehyung’s smile brightens again, still absolutely lethal. He looks at Yoongi expectantly, but Yoongi doesn’t know what he wants, and besides, Yoongi is busy trying not to sweat through his shirt. Yoongi says, “Why don’t you start?”

“Okay. Hm…” Taehyung looks thoughtful. “Okay. What’s the best food you’ve ever had?”

Yoongi is bewildered. He’d expected questions about his age, or his schooling, or other acts he’d produced for. Typical job interview questions. Small talk maybe. Not…whatever this is.

Thankfully, Taehyung has his own interpretation of Yoongi’s floundering silence. “Oh, but you wanted me to start!” Taehyung thinks seriously about his own question for a moment. “Okay, I know. Definitely the first time I had a peach when I was a kid.”

Yoongi still doesn’t know how to respond, but it doesn’t matter because Taehyung continues without input. “It was so sweet and juicy. I remember the juice ran down my arm and it was so good that I kept licking it up.” Taehyung mimics licking juice off his own wrist, tongue lapping at the air, wet as the mythic peach. It’s both erotic and odd, and Yoongi isn’t sure if the feeling twisting low in his gut is embarrassment or arousal. Either way, his face feels warm.

Taehyung doesn’t seem to notice. “It’s strange, because I’ve had some good peaches since then, but I don’t think anything has ever lived up to that first one. Do you think it’s just because things are brighter in memory? Or just because it was the first? Like, because I didn’t know how good they could be before that? Or maybe it was just really that good.”

Taehyung looks at Yoongi expectantly, but all Yoongi manages is a weak, “Maybe.”

“Well, what about you? What’s the best food you ever had?”

The thing is, as random as the question is, Yoongi knows the answer without even thinking about it. “My older brother is a chef. The first meal he ever cooked me when he opened his restaurant.”

That’s all Yoongi is willing to say about it, but it wasn’t quite as simple as his brother’s skill, or even Yoongi’s pride in him. It had been just after Yoongi moved to Seoul, back when his parents had been so disappointed at Yoongi’s choices, both in pursuing music and in admitting to them that he was dating a man, that they were barely talking to him. Yoongi had been terribly afraid that his brother would feel the same. Would be as disappointed, as disgusted, as their parents.

The invitation to dinner had filled Yoongi with both hope and dread. He’d been so nervous that he’d barely eaten anything that day, and wasn’t sure if he’d be able to touch dinner either. But his brother seemed to see everything that Yoongi was trying to hide, and had immediately pulled Yoongi into a silent hug. Then he’d fed Yoongi that meal, asking Yoongi interested questions about both the music and his boyfriend, while Yoongi ate eagerly. Nothing has ever tasted as good as that food, flavored with his brother’s love and acceptance.

Taehyung looks at Yoongi thoughtfully, as if somehow he can see what Yoongi isn’t saying. “That’s a good one.”

Yoongi looks away.

Taehyung goes on. “These are the kinds of things I like to think about when I’m writing songs. Maybe I’ll write a song about that peach someday.”

It’s not the strangest way to make music. Yoongi himself keeps notebooks filled with ideas and emotions from other times in his life and goes back to them when he needs inspiration. Although, just as often, the songs Yoongi makes his money on are too generic to need that kind of effort.

“And are you working on any songs now?” Yoongi asks. “Namjoon said the label wants you to have six or so by the deadline, right?”

Taehyung frowns, a true artist’s dislike of something as prosaic as deadlines. “Yes,” he sighs. “I’m working on a song about a fight I had with my best friend a long time ago.”

Yoongi nods, taking out the small notebook he always carries for things like this and making a note. “An angry song?”

Taehyung shakes his head. “Sad.”

“Did you guys make up?”

“Oh yeah, but it was sad at the time.” Taehyung laughs a little, even more devastating than his smile.

Yoongi looks down at his notebook. “Okay, do you want to start there? We could meet at my studio and go over whatever you have, or you could give me some direction…”

“No, let’s- Can we meet somewhere else?”

Yoongi frowns a little. He doesn’t really like working in other people’s space. But this is Taehyung’s project, so he nods. “Of course.”

#

When Yoongi shows up at the address Taehyung sent him, Yoongi is confused, but Yoongi is starting to resign himself to confusion at this point. Taehyung had wanted to meet late. Late enough that Yoongi, who borders on nocturnal, had thought about arguing, but the more pressing issue is where Yoongi finds himself. Not a studio, or even a cafe, or any place with instruments or computers, but a playground. In the middle of the night.

Taehyung beams at Yoongi. “PD-nim, you made it.”

“I made it.” Yoongi agrees. “Where are we?”

“Oh! This is the park where I went after Jimin and I fought.”

Yoongi looks around at the unremarkable park. Jimin must be the best friend. “Okay.”

Taehyung takes off a heavy looking backpack and starts pulling out recording equipment. Yoongi is intrigued almost despite himself, a pavlovian reaction to audio equipment. “What’s the plan?”

Taehyung pauses, unfocused for a moment, then he laughs a little. “Well, no particular plan. I just sort of wanted to see if I could capture the sounds of the park. You know, take myself back to that moment.”

Yoongi makes a noncommittal noise.

Taehyung looks around, and then almost seems to forget that Yoongi is even there, shifting his weight so that his scuffed shoes move in the gravel, creating a clear sound. He takes a step, and then tries to record his own movements and the obvious crunch they make in the gravel pathways. He struggles a bit, first trying to find a place to put the microphone, and then trying to carry it and walk at the same time. Finally, Yoongi says, “Here, I’ll record.”

Taehyung beams at him.

That sets the pattern. Yoongi following Taehyung, doing his best to capture whatever sounds Taehyung finds - the wind in the leaves of the trees, the subtle clank of the swing chains, and finally, uncomfortably intimate, Taehyung just laying on the sidewalk breathing. He must be remembering how he’d felt back then, because he looks almost on the edge of tears, and Yoongi wants to interrupt him. It’s not like Yoongi really thinks his shuddering breaths, mostly snatched away by the cool night breeze, will be the thing that unlocks the track. But instead, Yoongi sits on the ground next to him, watching the little digital screen and trying his best to record Taehyung’s remembered sadness.

Finally, Taehyung takes a deep steadying breath, and turns on his side to look at Yoongi. “Thanks, PD-nim.”

Even lit only by the harsh fluorescents of the street lights, and with the soft night breeze blowing his hair into his face, Taehyung is so beautiful that it makes Yoongi’s chest feel tight. But it’s late, Yoongi has a deadline tomorrow, and he feels no closer to a song than he was when he left his comfortable apartment.

He turns off the recorder, carefully folding the equipment up and handing it back to Taehyung.

Taehyung shoves it unceremoniously into his backpack. Yoongi tries not to wince.

#

After that, Yoongi finally convinces Taehyung to meet at Yoongi’s tiny little studio. Paying for the place keeps Yoongi from being able to afford his own apartment, but if he didn’t have this space, he probably wouldn’t be able to get enough work done to afford to even think about his own apartment, so it evens out somehow. Besides, since his roommates, Seokjin and Hoseok, had gotten together, Yoongi has been guaranteed his own bedroom even though he’s at the studio more than the apartment.

Taehyung compliments the studio so genuinely that Yoongi could almost forget that it’s small enough that their knees bump every time one of them moves too carelessly. They spend two hours sifting through the barely audible sounds of the late night park, Yoongi trying to figure out what Taehyung wants out of them. After that, Taehyung shows Yoongi another track, this one mostly the sound of Taehyung’s own indifferent piano playing and occasional snatches of lyrics, no definitive beat or even consistent melody.

Before the meeting, Yoongi had sorted through his own files, pulling any beats that seemed like they might match Taehyung’s aesthetic. Yoongi offers them now without much hope. As expected, Taehyung is generally, but not personally, enthusiastic about them. “They’re really good, PD-nim, but I don’t think they’ll work for me. I have to have some…connection, you know?”

Yoongi nods wearily. “Of course.”

It’s been almost four hours now. Yoongi closes out the file, about to suggest that they take a break for food, or maybe just call it a night, when Taehyung leans closer to the screen, his leg brushing against Yoongi’s again. “Oh PD-nim, wait.”

Yoongi pauses, puzzled and trying not to notice the heat of Taehyung’s body.

Taehyung laughs delightedly. “Do you name all your files like this?”

Yoongi looks at what’s on the screen. A file named, ‘It’s too hot and I’m hungry.’

“Ah,” Yoongi says, embarrassed. “Yes, I suppose I do.”

“You should have said! Now that I can work with.”

After a moment of Taehyung leaning much too close (he smells so fucking good) to read the file names on the screen, Yoongi relinquishes control of the computer, sliding his chair as far to the side of the small room as he can, leaving Taehyung to pick out beats entirely based on Yoongi’s mood-based labeling system. “Do you want to listen to them?”

“Hm, maybe later. It might be cool to bring together my version of too hot and hungry with yours without bias first, you know?”

Yoongi doesn’t really know, but ‘Yes and…’ he reminds himself. “Of course,” he says.

#

The problem is that, for every apparent moment of accord, every step forward they make in their working relationship, they seem to take two steps backward.

Taehyung accepts a few of Yoongi’s beats, but all he really takes from them is the nonsense titles which brings them no closer to any finished songs. Taehyung creates files full of scraps of lyrics and snippets of strange sounds he’s recorded, all apparently inspired by Yoongi’s meaningless thoughts, but not by anything Yoongi actually put effort into.

Yoongi tries to work with the scraps and snippets, to create some form and structure around them, but Taehyung always nods thoughtfully and then picks and picks, asking for this or that piece to be lower or taken out, until it’s back to the same collection of disparate sounds and ideas as it had been at the start.

The one time Taehyung does add what Yoongi would call actual music to a song, it’s a sample of jazz accordion. It’s…fine, but it doesn’t actually fit with the low, moody tone of the song as it has been constructed so far.

Yoongi tries to come at this from a different direction, setting Taehyung in front of a microphone and telling him to just sing whatever comes to mind. But apparently, even Taehyung can get shy, because his endless flow of ideas dries up, even when Yoongi pretends to be absorbed in something on his computer.

Taehyung never seems worried, but Yoongi is growing increasingly frustrated as the timeline grows tighter and tighter. His frustration seeps into the fairly straightforward work he’s doing on an OST (uninspiring at the best of times, but reliable work), and the beat he’s laying down for an underground rapper, young and full of ideas and anger, reminding Yoongi of himself a few years ago.

The final straw comes when Yoongi spends a whole Saturday tweaking the accordion song into something that sounds plausible. Something that, after hours of thought and work, manages to mellow the sample enough to blend with the pieces they already have in place. Taehyung even seems reasonably enthused about it, sending Yoongi back a rough recording of himself singing over it, lyrics and melody both, nearly an actual song.

Yoongi listens to it, sends Taehyung a message full of genuine enthusiasm and a few notes, then spends the entire weekend desperately finishing the OST song, sending it in exactly five minutes before the five o’clock deadline.

Yoongi and Taehyung have plans to meet that evening, so Yoongi goes to pull Taehyung’s recording out of his email, hoping to at least listen through and make some more notes before Taehyung shows up. But it seems to have gotten lost in the avalanche of messages that have gathered over the weekend. Yoongi gets distracted sorting through them all, arranging possible offers by how much money they might pay, versus how much time they might take, versus how annoying it might be to work with the people involved.

When Taehyung shows up, he looks bright and alert and beautiful in a way that makes Yoongi all too aware that Yoongi has spent most of the last three days in this same chair without absorbing any sunlight or meaningful human interaction. At least he took a shower yesterday.

Taehyung’s greeting is as bright as his face.

Yoongi blinks. “Yeah. Hey, can you send me that recording you did for the accordion song again?”

Taehyung shakes his head, still cheerful. “No, I deleted it.”

Yoongi freezes. He’s slept a combined seven hours in the last two days and he thinks for a moment he’s just misheard. “What?”

Taehyung is rifling through his bag, pulling out a bottle of juice. “Yeah, it really wasn’t working, so I deleted it.”

Yoongi blinks at him, an unpleasantly angry feeling rising in his chest. Yoongi isn’t a person who gets angry. He’s not someone who loses his temper. Not since he was a much younger man, and all his sadness would sometimes manifest as aggression. Yoongi doesn’t lose his temper and, usually, he doesn’t have to remind himself of that, but right now, he can feel a sharpness that he doesn’t like souring his tongue. “You deleted it.”

Taehyung shrugs, opening the juice. “Yeah, if something isn’t working, I don’t like to keep it around.”

Yoongi nods tightly. He doesn’t open his mouth, afraid of what will come out.

Yoongi doesn’t delete things. Never.

Once, a couple of years ago, he’d painstakingly collected all the songs and beats he’d made as a teenager, back in the days when all Yoongi had to work with was whatever free software he could find online. Yoongi had run the whole mess of them through a series of arcane file conversions, preserving them, since none of those old, free programs ran any more. It had taken a week of work, on and off. A few months ago, Yoongi had actually used one of those beats as the basis of a b-side for a girl group’s debut mini. The childish simplicity had worked well for the mood of the song.

Yoongi uses things he’s saved all the time - snippets of lyrics, old beats, sketches of melodies. The idea of deleting all that work is offensive to him. It’s so foolish. So wasteful.

Yoongi may not mesh well with Taehyung’s creative process, but there’s no question that Taehyung is endlessly creative, full of odd, but interesting ideas. What’s the point if Taehyung is simply going to trash them all?

Yoongi makes a quick decision, swallowing down all the sharp words that want to spill out of him. “Taehyung-ssi, I’m really sorry, but I think I’m more tired than I realized. Can we reschedule?”

Taehyung is all sympathy. “Oh, of course, PD-nim.” He hands Yoongi the juice. “Try to get some rest.”

“Oh,” Yoongi says, flustered, trying to hand it back. “You don’t need to give me your juice.”

Taehyung smiles, beautiful, bewildering, and infuriating. “I’m not. It’s yours.”

Yoongi doesn’t want to take the juice, but he doesn’t want to argue either, so he says awkwardly, “Well, thank you.”

Taehyung leaves, but not before politely admonishing Yoongi to eat some real food and sleep.

Taehyung is really a very nice person. Yoongi can see why Namjoon is friends with him. It’s wrong how much Yoongi wants to yell at Taehyung, right now. It’s even more wrong how, despite that, Yoongi still wants to fuck him.

#

Yoongi should go home and go to sleep. That would be the smart thing to do. But instead he does what he always does when he needs an outside perspective and calls Namjoon.

Yoongi is lucky that Namjoon is only a couple of time zones away, and luckier still that Namjoon isn’t already in some afternoon soundcheck. Yoongi asks Namjoon about the tour and soaks up Namjoon’s excitement. Namjoon’s happiness, expressed in each long story, in his eagerness to share even the smallest details, is almost better than sleep.

Eventually, Namjoon runs out of stories. “And what about you, hyung? How are things going with Taehyung?”

Yoongi sighs. “I- We’re very different.”

Namjoon hums an agreement. “That’s true.”

“Namjoon-ah,” Yoongi says suddenly, all his frustration (in various meanings of the word) bursting out in a question that borders on a confession. “You would be honest if you were trying to manic pixie dream girl me, right?”

Namjoon doesn’t say anything for a long moment, letting Yoongi marinate in the shame of what he’s said.

“Hyung…” Namjoon sounds disappointed and Yoongi’s shame grows. “Taehyung isn’t a manic pixie dream girl, he’s a real person, with a real problem. I thought you could help him. If that’s not true…”

“I want to help,” Yoongi insists. “I do.”

“But you want to fuck him more?”

Yoongi flushes, but this blunt assessment is why he needs Namjoon. “No. Not more.”

Namjoon’s tone is kind, but his words are firm. “If it’s not working out, then you need to tell me. I can find someone else, but time is running out.”

“No.” Yoongi says, resolved. “No, I can do this.”

There’s a silence down the line, Namjoon waiting for more.

Yoongi’s resolve crumbles slightly and he whines, “He just- Everything is so loose and he- He just deletes things if they aren’t working.”

Namjoon laughs at that. “Poor hyung.”

“Come on, Namjoon. That’s terrible practice.” Yoongi can still hear the whine in his voice and hates it.

“It is,” Namjoon agrees, but he still sounds amused. “So things aren’t working?”

“No,” Yoongi says glumly. “They aren’t.”

There’s a pause. Yoongi knows Namjoon well enough to know that it’s not judgment this time. Well enough that Yoongi can practically hear Namjoon thinking. Taehyung would probably want to record the non-existent sound of it. Finally, Namjoon says, “It wasn’t really like that when we worked on the first album. His methods are definitely…freethinking, but we made pretty fast progress.”

Great. “Maybe he needs you.”

“Or maybe you should ask him why things are so hard. Maybe there’s something going on that would be helpful to know about.”

Maybe Yoongi should treat Taehyung like a person and not a figure of incomprehensible, wacky hotness. Namjoon doesn’t say it, but Yoongi can hear it anyway. “Yeah, you’re right.”

“Can you say that again into the microphone?”

“Ha, ha,” Yoongi says very precisely into the phone and Namjoon laughs.

There’s another pause, Yoongi can hear the soft sounds of Namjoon walking in the background, the street around him. Yoongi wonders if he would have noticed any of it if he hadn’t been spending time with Taehyung.

“Hyung,” Namjoon says, serious again. “Are you doing okay? Do you really feel like you need to be manic pixie dream girled?”

Yoongi groans. “Namjoon-ah, I’m okay.”

“Hyung,” Namjoon insists.

Yoongi makes himself really think about it, listening to Namjoon’s footfalls and the muffled sounds of traffic as he does. He tries to assess how he feels in all the ways his therapists have taught him over the years, running back through his last few weeks. Okay. Not his best, but nowhere near his worst. “Really. I’m okay, Joon-ah.”

Namjoon makes a soft accepting sound, but says, “I worry that you’re just spending all your time in the studio without me there. Are you eating?”

“Come on, you spend just as much time in the studio as I do.”

“Well, at least when I’m there we get lunch together sometimes.”

Yoongi pulls the juice Taehyung left closer. He takes a swallow. It’s almost too sweet, but he can practically feel his cells reviving at receiving non-caffeinated liquids. The sugars rush to his brain, making everything seem a little clearer. “I’m drinking a juice right now.”

“Taehyung left that, didn’t he?”

“Taehyung left it,” Yoongi confirms sadly.

#

Yoongi goes home after that and sleeps for almost ten hours. When he wakes up, he eats the meal Seokjin has left in the fridge covered in threatening notes (‘Yoongi-yah, if you don’t eat this, I will come to your studio and personally force feed it to you’). Afterward, he feels, predictably, much more human.

In his newly refreshed state, Yoongi remembers that Taehyung hadn’t emailed him that recording at all, but sent it as a voice memo. Yoongi finds it easily on his phone this time, and listens to it again twice through. Taehyung might not have thought it was worth preserving, but Yoongi can already envision more than one way to expand on the ideas in that rough recording.

Yoongi takes a picture of the empty food containers and sends it Seokjin. He washes the dishes and stacks them in the dish rack using the precise arrangement that Hoseok insists leads to the best drying outcomes.

All of that taken care of, Yoongi heads back to the studio. Namjoon doesn’t need to know and Yoongi wants nothing more than to nail down the ideas buzzing through his mind.

When Yoongi emerges from the haze of inspiration a few hours later, he’s taken Taehyung’s rough vocals and come up with two different demo tracks.

Despite the short notice, Taehyung easily agrees to come back to the studio. Yoongi orders take out, wanting a more relaxed atmosphere for the conversation that they need to have.

When Taehyung arrives, he’s as cheerful as ever - grateful for the food, thrilled to just chat, his conversation as winding as always. Yoongi lets himself go with the flow for once, letting Taehyung’s meandering thoughts guide them. He’s surprised and pleased to find that Taehyung can be very funny. Taehyung’s observations about the world might be a little offbeat, but they’re sharper than Yoongi has previously given him credit for.

When their stomachs are full, Yoongi says, “Taehyung-ssi, I think we need to talk about the album.”

Taehyung’s face falls. “You don’t want to work on it, do you? I know I haven’t been-”

Yoongi interrupts whatever self-deprecation is about to occur. “Taehyung-ssi, that’s not it.”

“No?” Taehyung looks younger than usual, wide-eyed and vulnerable.

Yoongi feels an unfamiliar rush of protectiveness and he picks his next words carefully. “No. But it’s true that we haven’t been making much progress, so I thought maybe we should try to figure out why.”

“Oh,” Taehyung looks down.

“Is it-” Yoongi has to ask, even though nothing about this conversation so far suggests it’s the problem. “Would you feel better working with another producer? I can introduce you to some very good producers, if you’d like.”

“No!” Taehyung looks up now. “PD-nim, that’s not it.” He takes a deep breath. He looks upset, his usual smooth calm lost. “It’s, well… You know that I was already behind. It’s not you. You’ve been amazing. It’s… It’s just- The first album, no one had ever heard of me. It was fun to prove that I could make something worth listening to, but now… Now, there are all these people, fans and the company and my friends- All these people, who expect something from me. I don’t want to disappoint them.”

Yoongi sits back in his chair, absorbing that. How had he missed it? It shouldn't have taken much to notice such standard concerns about a sophomore slump, but Yoongi hadn’t even thought of it, too busy blaming Taehyung for thinking differently than Yoongi and for being attractive. As if it was Taehyung’s fault that Yoongi is apparently an inflexible creep. Yes, Taehyung projects confidence most of the time, but that’s no reason for Yoongi not to look beyond the surface.

Yoongi has a lot of work to do if he wants to earn the trust that Namjoon and Taehyung have placed in him. “Thank you for telling me. I understand why it could be nerve-wracking, but, Taehyung-ssi, you’re very talented. You have so many interesting ideas. So much to share. I know I’ve been kind of a dick, but I promise, I’m going to help you share your ideas. To make them the way you want.”

Taehyung tilts his head, considering. “I didn’t think you were a dick. You weren’t a dick on the outside. Were you a dick on the inside?”

Yoongi feels ashamed. As he should. “A little bit. You and I have very different approaches, and I’ve been told I can get a little set in my ways.” That’s a polite way to summarize the complaints Namjoon used to have when they were both younger and more prone to solving things through biting words. “But I’m going to do better now.”

Taehyung considers him seriously. “Okay. I believe you.”

A rush of relief runs through Yoongi at this easily given trust. “Thank you.” He turns to his computer. “I do have one suggestion that I hope is not dick-like.”

“Okay…” Despite his easy forgiveness, Taehyung looks cautious in a way he hasn’t before.

“Don’t delete things. Even if you don’t like it. Put it in a folder that you don’t plan on looking at, but don’t delete it. Maybe you’ll change your mind later and want it. Maybe you won’t. But you shouldn’t take away that option.”

Taehyung frowns. “But if it’s not good?”

“It might not be good for that moment, but I use stuff that I made years ago all the time. It’s like recycling. Like using the sounds of the playground.”

Taehyung looks unsure and Yoongi doesn’t press. “Just consider it. And while we’re on the topic, I want you to listen to something. You don’t have to like it, but give it a chance?”

“All right.”

Yoongi turns back to his computer with some relief, glad that they can focus on the music again. Namjoon was right about needing to talk, but music is always better.

#

After their conversation, Yoongi feels like they’re on new ground, both more honest with each other, and Taehyung more willing to trust Yoongi, to trust that even something that isn't instantly perfect can still have a spark worth kindling.

Within a week and a half, they’ve actually managed to create a handful of potential tracks. Enough that Yoongi rents an actual recording studio to let Taehyung play around with whatever instruments he can find (and also, strangely, a series of children’s toys that he brings in) and so they can record some clean vocal takes in a space that does Taehyung’s beautiful voice justice.

They’re on a break, Taehyung resting his voice as they have a late dinner, when it occurs to Yoongi to ask, “Have you thought about what your album art will be for this one?”

Taehyung shakes his head. “No. I mean, I’ll take the photo probably, but I like to wait until the album is more together so that I can capture the right mood.”

Yoongi nods, takes a sip of water, and then says, as casually as he can, “I suppose the label has talked to you about using a picture of yourself.”

Taehyung pauses his attempt to use the last of his noodles to sweep up as much sauce as possible. “What do you mean?”

Yoongi feels trapped even though he was the one to bring this up. “Well, I’m sure it couldn’t hurt your sales.”

Taehyung looks like he’s fighting a smile now. “What do you mean?” he says again.

Yoongi rolls his eyes, pretending at being annoyed to be baited into offering the compliment. “Taehyung-ssi, you know you’re very handsome.”

Taehyung is definitely smiling now. “Yes,” he says bluntly. “But I didn’t know you knew it.”

Yoongi looks away from Taehyung and his dangerous smile. “Don’t be silly. Everyone knows it. I’m not special.”

“Well, in answer to your question - yes. The company has suggested several times that the album cover should feature my face, but I don’t want people to like my music just because they like my face.”

Yoongi had wondered if that would be the answer. “Okay. I didn’t mean to make you feel uncomfortable.”

“Oh, I don’t mind you liking my face.” Even looking away, Yoongi can hear the smile in Taehyung’s voice.

#

The next time they meet to work on music, Taehyung starts by announcing, “I brought a new song.”

Taehyung has been on a roll lately, potential songs arriving frequently, and Yoongi, busy trying to decide which demo to show Taehyung first, doesn’t give the announcement his full attention. “That’s great, what’s it about?”

“You.”

Yoongi looses track of what he was doing, mouse pointer skittering aimlessly to the edge of the screen. He swivels his chair around, feeling as off balance as he had at the beginning of their acquaintance. “Me?”

“Yes.” Taehyung is looking at Yoongi with an intensity that makes Yoongi’s stomach twist. He’s holding a folded sheet of paper, recognizable as being a page from the notebook he likes to use for his lyrics. “It’s about- About wanting to kiss you.”

Everything stops for a moment. The only thing that seems to exist is Taehyung’s dark gaze. “What?” Yoongi asks, blankly.

“I’ll take it away if you don’t want to see it,” Taehyung says, and Yoongi realizes that, under his brashness, Taehyung is nervous.

Yoongi holds out his hand. “Let me see.”

Taehyung hands him the page, one of his long elegant fingers brushing against Yoongi’s.

Yoongi unfolds the paper and reads. Knowing what Taehyung has just told him, the lyrics make him blush a little, but on the surface they appear to be about a peach, maybe even about the peach that Taehyung described the first time they met.

Yoongi reads it again. Even without knowing the specific intent, Taehyung has managed to make the description of eating the peach sexy. Not vulgar, but sensuous somehow. It’s a clever bit of song writing.

“I never thought of myself as particularly peach-like,” Yoongi finally says.

“Oh, very.” Taehyung says without hesitation. “Your mouth. And those cheeks.”

Said cheeks feel very warm right now. “My mother always said they looked like dumplings,” Yoongi says inanely.

Taehyung’s expression is fond. He reaches out and touches one of Yoongi’s warm cheeks, only the slightest contact, his fingers trailing away just before they would have landed on the corner of Yoongi’s lips. Yoongi’s face tingles, a sparkling sensation spreading out from where Taehyung had touched him. “I guess I see you a little differently than your mother.”

Yoongi can’t help laughing. “Well, that’s good.”

“Is it?” Taehyung is watching Yoongi, his gaze intense. “What do you think?”

“Of the lyrics? They’re very good.”

Taehyung smiles, some of his intensity ebbing away. “I’m glad. I wasn’t sure if I should show them to you.”

Yoongi looks at the sheet of paper in his hands. “I’m glad you did, Taehyung-ssi, but we’re working together. This- Kissing- Any of that. It would be a mistake while we’re working together.”

Taehyung’s smile falls a little. “You and Namjoon-hyung work together.”

“Yes,” Yoongi says slowly.

“You slept with him.”

Yoongi chokes. “What?” His voice comes out as a strangled whisper, “Did he- He told you that?” Yoongi had thought both of them would take that single, late-night mistake to their grave.

Taehyung laughs, clearly delighted. “No, I just had a feeling, but I guess it was right.”

Yoongi glares at him. “Fine. Once. But it was a mistake. A big mistake.”

“I’ve heard that about Namjoon-hyung,” Taehyung says placidly.

Yoongi isn’t falling for any more of his tricks. “Taehyung-ssi. I’m serious. This is a good song. I- I like it. But we have an album to finish.”

Taehyung studies Yoongi. His expression has turned a little sulky, almost a pout. If it was anyone else, it would be very unattractive, but it’s Taehyung, so Yoongi feels himself weakening. He firms his expression, trying not to let it show.

It must work because Taehyung sighs. “Well. I guess this will help me really nail the longing.”

Yoongi shakes his head, relieved that Taehyung hadn’t pushed any further, mostly because Yoongi doesn’t want to acknowledge how easily he would have given in.

#

Even with…whatever that was, their productive streak continues. They work steadily together, managing to come up with rough versions of the six songs required by the company and then another three, filling out the album. Then, at Yoongi’s suggestion, they pull together two more songs, obviously less interesting, out of the scraps of their previously discarded ideas, squirreled away in Yoongi’s endless files.

Experience has taught Yoongi to give the corporate guys something obvious to veto. Otherwise, in their desire to feel involved, they start gnawing away at the heart of the album like dogs going after shoes when they don’t have enough toys.

Working on the…peach song, as Yoongi tries to think about it, is a unique challenge. Yoongi finds it difficult enough not to think about how attractive Taehyung is in ordinary circumstances, and his willpower is sorely tested when working on a song all about how Taehyung apparently reciprocates that attraction. When they work on the song, Yoongi sometimes sees something dark and hot in Taehyung’s gaze. Every time Yoongi catches that glimmer, it throws him out of what he’s doing, sending his thoughts off track and his words stuttering.

That’s bad enough, but even working on the song alone, Yoongi finds his mind wandering. Thinking about Taehyung’s dark eyes and his mouth. Wondering how Taehyung might kiss. How he might do other things. Rough and demanding? Sweet and yielding? Yoongi wants to know. Maybe even longs to know.

Yoongi feels like some of his filthier thoughts must have stained the song, because when he presents it to Taehyung, Taehyung gets a little breathless. “Wow, it’s- Yeah, that’s just right. Just how I imagined.”

The other songs are not quite as fraught, covering topics like Taehyung’s younger siblings, the smell of the morning air at his grandparents farm, and the Seoul Subway during rush hour. They present their own challenges though, such as how to sonically capture the smell of morning on the farm. Yoongi hasn’t spent much time in the country, so Taehyung helpfully brings in a series of photos of himself at the farm, stretching from when he was only a toddler to more recent photos of him laughing with his siblings. None of the photos are sexy, but they make something twist in Yoongi’s stomach anyway.

When everything is ready, Yoongi rents the recording studio again, this time bringing in an actual recording engineer. Taehyung does a good job laying down all the tracks, his voice as enchanting as it’s been since the very first time Yoongi heard him.

When it’s time to record the peach song, Yoongi is torn between being unable to look at Taehyung and unable to look away, his eyes darting to and from Taehyung, his face burning. Taehyung seems to have no such concerns, watching Yoongi from behind the glass the whole time, his gaze piercingly intense despite the space, and the glass, and the equipment between them.

After Taehyung sings through the whole song once, someone clears their throat, and Yoongi belatedly remember that they aren’t alone. The recording engineer is looking speculatively between the two of them, but, proving herself to be the most professional person in the room, she doesn’t say anything. Yoongi takes a deep breath and braces himself for a second take.

Yoongi spends the next week in an editing haze, polishing and tweaking what they’ve made, pushing off other offers in the meantime. Finally, the last track is done (or at least as done as it will be until the company gets their hands on it) and Taehyung has requested the very last odd sound be added. When Yoongi saves the last change, Taehyung says, “We should go celebrate!”

Yoongi looks at him. “You should, Taehyung-ssi, but you don’t need me for that.”

Taehyung’s face falls. “But you need to celebrate too. You did such a good job.”

Yoongi can feel his professionalism already slipping away at the idea of spending time with Taehyung outside the confines of the job, outside all of Yoongi’s reasons for not touching Taehyung. Taehyung’s pleading eyes are impossible to resist through. “What are you thinking?”

Taehyung beams.

#

It turns out that what Taehyung is thinking is a club, an idea that makes Yoongi feel suddenly much older than he really is. But Taehyung and his roommates, Jimin and Jungkook, are apparently all excited, and who is Yoongi to say no to that?

Yoongi does his best to recruit his own roommates to come with him, a buffer against all of Taehyung’s youth and beauty, but neither of them even pretend to consider it. They have plans, Hoseok explains, apologetic but implacable.

Yoongi knows exactly what plans they have. Hoseok will clean the apartment while Seokjin plays video games. Then they’ll have dinner. If Seokjin is feeling romantic, he’ll cook, and if not, they’ll order in from the same three restaurants they always order from. Then they’ll shower, fuck quietly, shower again, and go to sleep at a reasonable hour. It’s the same plans they’ve had just about every Saturday since they finally got together, which Yoongi unfortunately knows due to being their roommate.

But their steady routine makes them ridiculously, enviably happy, so Yoongi only sulks a little at the rejection.

“Yoongi-yah,” Seokjin says, from where he’s already settled in with his game. “You do not need us to help you fuck that boy.”

Hoseok and Yoongi blink at each other until Seokjin turns around, miffed at not getting the reaction he wanted. He seems to replay what he just said in his mind and makes a loud, embarrassed squawking noise. “That’s not what I meant. You filthy minded animals know what I meant.”

Hoseok laughs fondly and Yoongi sighs. “Yes, hyung.”

And that’s how Yoongi finds himself out alone with Taehyung and his roommates, and their brimming youthful energy.

Jimin, Yoongi knows, is the star of the playground argument song and Yoongi can see how he might inspire that kind of passion. Jungkook is quiet at first, and then as the night goes on and he grows more comfortable with Yoongi, increasingly a whirl of energy and mischief.

They’re both lovely, but it’s Taehyung that keeps Yoongi’s attention, with his beauty and the heat in his gaze.

When they arrive at the club, Yoongi buys everyone a round of drinks. Jungkook and Jimin offer easy thanks, but Yoongi barely hears it, all his attention taken by Taehyung, who insists on peach flavored soju.

Jimin and Jungkook finish their drinks quickly, disappearing on the dance floor as soon as they’re done. Taehyung takes his time with his drink, watching Yoongi over the rim of his glass as he sips the sweet liquor.

Yoongi is staring, but Taehyung doesn’t seem to mind. “You should try it.” Taehyung holds his glass out.

Yoongi lets Taehyung press it to his lips. Lets Taehyung pour a little of the sickly sweet liquid into his mouth. It mixes horribly with the taste of dry whiskey still lingering on Yoongi’s tongue. He doesn’t care at all.

Taehyung is watching Yoongi closely, warm gaze tracking the way Yoongi licks a stray drop off his lips. His voice sounds even lower than usual when he asks, “How is it?”

“Sweet,” Yoongi answers honestly.

Taehyung smiles then. “You don’t like sweet, do you?”

“I like-” Yoongi starts, and then stops, something too honest nearly spilling out. He clears his throat and tries again. “I like it sometimes.”

Taehyung puts the glass down. “I like sweet, but, to be honest, I’m not much of a drinker.”

“Oh,” Yoongi says, suddenly concerned. “Let me get you a soda.”

Taehyung smiles again, as sweet as the drink. “Okay.”

They linger there by the bar for a moment, Yoongi finishing his whiskey and Taehyung his soda. It’s crowded and they keep brushing against each other. Yoongi feels warmer with each touch. Hot in a way that has nothing to do with the one drink he’s had, or the inevitable heat of this many people in a small space, and everything to do with Taehyung.

Eventually, the song shifts to something upbeat and popular. Yoongi has spent some idle time since this song came out, picking apart what makes it tick so well. Taehyung turns to Yoongi. “Come on, PD-nim. This is a good song, let’s dance.”

“Hyung,” Yoongi offers, much too belatedly. “Let’s not be so formal, Tae-ah.”

Taehyung looks surprised and then softly delighted. “No, let’s not.” He takes Yoongi’s hand then, long elegant fingers slipping between Yoongi’s, and pulls Yoongi to the dance floor.

They dance together for a while, and Yoongi remembers that he does like this. Likes letting the music move him, and making his friends laugh with silly dance moves, and the warm press of someone attractive up against him.

And Taehyung is so very attractive. Always, but especially tonight. He’s done something with his hair, bringing out the soft wave of it, and the drape of his outfit works to emphasize the long lines of his body. The lights of the club play across his features and Yoongi can’t look away. There’s a song in the way that Taehyung looks tonight. Maybe a whole album.

Taehyung keeps touching Yoongi. Warm hands on Yoongi’s waist as they dance, and draped over his shoulder when they stop for water (and more liquor for Jimin and Jungkook in response to their perfect, matched pleading expressions). And then on Yoongi’s hands and waist again, a little possessive, when they push back into the crush on the dance floor.

Despite how much Yoongi likes the feeling of Taehyung’s hands on him, eventually he starts to grow weary of the crowd, especially as the night goes on and it grows ever thicker. Jimin and Jungkook only appear to be having more fun as the club gets busier, but Taehyung seems to sense Yoongi’s growing tiredness. He leans down and asks (softly for a club, but loud to be heard over the music and the crowd), “Do you want to go get something to eat?”

Yoongi isn’t hungry, but he sees the offer for what it is and nods.

Taehyung makes their goodbyes to Jimin and Jungkook, leaning in to say something to Jimin that makes Jimin smile broadly and reply in a way that leads to Taehyung shoving him playfully.

Yoongi waves to Jimin and Jungkook both. He lets Taehyung pull him close and escort him out through the crowd to a nearby pojangmacha. There Yoongi passes on his usual favorites, buying them both gyeranmari because he knows Taehyung doesn’t like spicy food.

Yoongi might have expected Taehyung to be less touchy outside of the crowded club, but Taehyung keeps them pressed thigh to thigh on the bench, and when the food is gone, wraps his arm around Yoongi once more.

Yoongi can’t pretend he doesn’t like it. Even in the heat of a summer night, even with the sweat of the club still clinging to him, a little too warm, Yoongi likes it. Likes where things are going.

When Taehyung says, voice low and rumbling against Yoongi’s ear, “Come back to my place,” Yoongi doesn’t pretend to be surprised.

“What about your roommates?”

“I told Jimin to stay in Jungkook’s room tonight.”

“Presumptuous,” Yoongi says, but he’s already standing and taking Taehyung’s hand again

#

It’s a long bus ride. A long ride, suddenly alone with only the subtle press of Taehyung’s leg after all the earlier closeness, but Taehyung smiles at Yoongi whenever their eyes meet, and that’s enough to keep Yoongi warm and anticipatory.

Taehyung’s apartment is a little smaller than the one that Yoongi shares with Seokjin and Hoseok, but the main space, a living room kitchen combination, is surprisingly neat. Taehyung steers Yoongi past it, straight to his bedroom where Yoongi discovers that Jungkook must the tidy roommate.

The room that Taehyung and Jimin share is, charitably speaking, cluttered. Jimin’s side looks like a bomb made only of clothing has recently exploded. Taehyung’s side is slightly neater, as if someone has recently tried to shove the worst of the clutter away. Yoongi feels a surge of fondness at the picture of Taehyung planning for this moment.

Taehyung apologizes for the mess, but Yoongi doesn’t mind. He’s more interested in the careful way Taehyung touches his elbow and guides him to sit on the bed. In the way Taehyung looks at Yoongi - as if Taehyung had really meant all those longing lyrics about the peach. In the way Taehyung swallows thickly before he asks, “Can I kiss you?”

Yoongi smiles, because he didn’t take a bus all this way to not even be kissed. He can’t help teasing a little. “What if it doesn’t live up to all your lyrical efforts?”

Taehyung lets out a little huff of breath, not quite a laugh. “Hyung that’s- That’s really not possible.”

Yoongi leans in a little, and Taehyung holds still, eyes fluttering shut as he lets Yoongi come near.

Yoongi whispers against Taehyung’s mouth, so close that their lips brush against each other, “Okay, Tae-ah. Kiss me.”

Taehyung makes a low noise and does.

Yoongi expects, given the build up, given how forward Taehyung has been all night, and how long Yoongi has made him wait, that it will be rough, but, as always, Taehyung surprises him. Taehyung kisses softly, then firmly, but still so gentle. He reaches up and cups the back of Yoongi’s head, his long fingers in Yoongi’s hair. He strokes his thumbs against Yoongi’s cheeks.

It’s good. Good even beyond the obvious thrill of kissing someone as beautiful as Taehyung. Something about the way Taehyung touches him, kisses him, makes Yoongi feel cherished and Yoongi finds he likes that feeling.

They’re barely touching, just Taehyung’s hands on Yoongi’s face and their lips, but Yoongi already feels warm, filled with the desire that had been banked in him since the first time he saw Taehyung. The desire that had been smoldering all the more since Taehyung had written a song about kissing Yoongi. Since Taehyung had handed Yoongi that carefully folded piece of paper with his wants written on it, kindling for the spark. The spark that Taehyung has been steadily stoking all night with his touches and hungry looks, now burning all through Yoongi, a blaze that can’t be satisfied by gentleness.

Yoongi reaches out, grasping the first thing his hand lands on - Taehyung’s shirt. Yoongi clutches it, fist wrinkling the flowing fabric, pulling Taehyung closer. He opens his mouth and invites Taehyung in.

Taehyung groans and takes the invitation, leaning closer, kissing Yoongi deeper. He’s still gentle though, reverent as he licks Yoongi’s lips and whispers, “I knew you’d be sweet.”

There’s no way Yoongi tastes sweet, not with whiskey and street food lingering in his mouth, but he thinks he knows what Taehyung means, because there is something about Taehyung’s mouth on his. A rush like sugar or caffeine.

Yoongi pulls at Taehyung’s shirt until it comes untucked, sliding his hand under the loose fabric to touch the skin of Taehyung’s back and side.

Taehyung takes that as permission to push his hands under Yoongi’s t-shirt. His hands feel warm and big against Yoongi’s stomach. The feeling shivers through Yoongi, more of that sugar rush, making Yoongi impatient enough to push his way into Taehyung’s lap. To let Taehyung steady him there while Yoongi uses the slight height advantage afforded him by his new perch to look down at Taehyung.

Taehyung looks back up at Yoongi, his eyes wide and warm. He lets Yoongi stroke through the waves of his hair, and trace the elegant line of his eyebrows. Lets Yoongi marvel at his beauty for a minute, all the while looking up at Yoongi with a sort of wonder that Yoongi knows he hasn’t earned.

It makes Yoongi feel tender, a soft affection that Yoongi isn’t certain fits in this moment, but he follows the feeling anyway, leaning down to softly kiss Taehyung’s forehead, then the bridge of his nose, and finally, Taehyung’s wet mouth again.

Taehyung holds Yoongi close against himself as they kiss, hands slowly working up Yoongi’s t-shirt until they’re forced to break apart long enough for Taehyung to pull the shirt over Yoongi’s head. Once it’s off, Taehyung buries his face in the hollow of Yoongi’s bared throat, one thumb stroking over the line of Yoongi’s collarbone.

Yoongi lets him. Holds him close, cupping the curve of his skull, and letting him breathe warm against Yoongi. It’s been too long since Yoongi has touched anyone like this and Yoongi is only realizing now how hungry he’s been for it.

But even more than Yoongi wants Taehyung’s breath on his skin, he wants to feel Taehyung bare against him. Yoongi nudges Taehyung back enough to unbutton his shirt and slide it off his shoulders. Then Yoongi nudges a little harder, tumbling Taehyung back into the bed, and draping himself over Taehyung, finally skin to skin.

They lay together like that for a while, kissing and touching. Yoongi enjoying the feeling of Taehyung’s slender body under his, and Taehyung growing bolder, tracing the edge of Yoongi’s waistband and then below, until his big hands are cupping Yoongi’s ass, squeezing Yoongi through his jeans.

Yoongi feels good, warm waves of arousal lapping through him, building, but not quite urgent yet. But Taehyung is hard under Yoongi, his hips starting to move in stuttering little desperate motions, and his fingers are tight on Yoongi’s hips. Yoongi likes knowing that he can unravel Taehyung’s serenity so easily.

He leans back from where he’s been sucking soft kisses along the elegant line of Taehyung’s neck. “What do you want, Tae-ah?”

Taehyung bites his lip. He looks nervous, which Yoongi doesn’t want. He only wants to unravel Taehyung in ways they’ll both enjoy. He kisses Taehyung’s forehead again, soothing. “Whatever it is, it’s okay.”

“Can I fuck you, hyung?”

It’s not exactly a surprising request, not with the way Taehyung’s hands have been glued to Yoongi’s ass for the last ten minutes.

Yoongi doesn’t usually fuck the first time he’s with someone. It’s not a hard and fast rule or anything. Yoongi does love getting fucked, but it has to be worth his time. In his opinion, a mediocre blowjob is tolerable, but a mediocre fuck is more dissatisfying then nothing at all. Usually, Yoongi likes to take a hook up through a test run before he decides if it’s worth chancing it. But Yoongi has been hoping that Taehyung would want this.

He kisses Taehyung hotly, trying to convey his enthusiasm. “Of course.”

“Oh.” Taehyung says. “Oh, fuck. I’ll make it good for you, hyung. I promise.”

Yoongi, even though he only has the last twenty minutes of kisses and some salacious lyrics to go on, believes it. “I know you will.”

“Fuck,” Taehyung whispers.

Given Taehyung’s desperation, Yoongi expects an aggressive start. For Taehyung to flip Yoongi into the bed, making short work of their pants, straight to the point, but Taehyung surprises Yoongi once more. He kisses Yoongi again, his hands sweeping over Yoongi’s bare shoulder blades and down Yoongi’s back to his ass. He’s still only touching Yoongi over the jeans, but there’s something firm and proprietary about it now. It makes Yoongi shiver, makes Yoongi tuck himself as close to Taehyung as he can, wanting that touch and the hint of possession in it.

Only when Taehyung has Yoongi dizzy with his kisses, does he shift, sliding Yoongi off his chest and into the bed. Yoongi lets Taehyung move him, rolling easily on his back, almost dazed with wanting now. Taehyung touches his face softly. “Good, hyung?”

Yoongi nods and Taehyung smiles at him. “Sweet.”

He presses his thumb into Yoongi’s cheek and before Yoongi can quite register it, he’s leaning down and biting gently, just a hint of teeth and then a kiss. “A perfect peach.”

It should be odd, but like everything Taehyung does, it fits him. Yoongi laughs silently. “Tae-ah.”

“I’ve got you, hyung.”

And then Taehyung is finally tugging off Yoongi’s jeans and underwear, slipping out of his own wide trousers too.

Taehyung is big. Not intimidatingly so, but definitely on the larger side. Yoongi touches him, feeling the weight, and imagining how good it will feel inside him.

Taehyung moans a little. “Hyung, you have to let me focus.”

Yoongi smirks, giving him one more teasing stroke, and then lets him go.

Taehyung leans over and rummages through the cluttered bedside table. He pulls out a half empty bottle of lube, a snarl of tangled charging cords, a headband, and then, with a little sound of triumph, a new box of condoms. He leaves the cords and the headband on the table and sets the lube and condoms next to Yoongi in the bed.

The lube feels cool on Yoongi’s hot skin as Taehyung carefully starts to touch him. He kisses Yoongi’s inner thighs and then wiggles down further. He turns Yoongi’s hips just enough to bite one of Yoongi’s ass cheeks and then turns Yoongi again to bite at the other side, like he’s marking Yoongi even though he’s nearly as gentle as he had been on Yoongi’s face. “Sweet here too.”

Yoongi flushes. “I thought you were focusing.”

Taehyung laughs and goes back to working Yoongi open with his long, perfect fingers. Yoongi has thought about those fingers quite a lot. Thought about what they might feel like inside of him. They don’t disappoint.

It doesn’t take long until Taehyung is fucking into Yoongi, fingers curved just right to hit exactly where Yoongi wants him. Yoongi closes his eyes, losing track of anything except how good it feels, and how much he wants more of it. He moves with Taehyung, pushing him deeper. “Taehyung-ah. Tae-ah. More. Please.”

“Oh, hyung. Yes.” Taehyung sounds almost as desperate as Yoongi feels.

Taehyung pulls his fingers out gently, leaving Yoongi feeling empty and hungrier than ever. He opens his eyes just enough to impatiently track Taehyung’s progress with the condom and Taehyung catches Yoongi watching him through his lashes. Taehyung fumbles the condom wrapper, but eventually he manages to get the condom unwrapped and safely on.

He lines himself up, but he looks nervous, hands suddenly uncertain on Yoongi’s hips.

Yoongi reaches for him, tugging him further up the bed, until they can kiss. “Okay?” Yoongi asks, too fuzzy with lust to formulate a more concrete inquiry.

Taehyung breathes into the kiss for a moment, somehow seeming to find calm on Yoongi’s lips. “I’m okay, hyung. Are you ready?”

Yoongi kisses him once more, definitively. “I’m ready.”

Apparently that’s all the reassurance Taehyung needed, because he slides in with a slow certainty as if he’d never heard of nervousness.

“Oh fuck,” Yoongi says. Taehyung is big. Perfect. He keeps moving forward until all Yoongi feels is fullness and zinging pleasure. Until all Yoongi wants is for him to move. “Please.”

Taehyung nods and then starts to fuck into Yoongi, slow at first, carefully finding the right angle to make Yoongi moan. Taehyung repeats the motion, more slow, deliberate strokes, not enough.

“Please,” Yoongi says again.

Then Taehyung is fucking into Yoongi, so hard and so right that all Yoongi’s thoughts scatter and drift, lost in a rising tide of pleasure. Just when the pleasure seems like it might plateau, the thoughts might return, Taehyung pushes one of Yoongi’s legs up, pinning it between them, changing the angle for the better, and suddenly Yoongi is so fucking close.

Yoongi wants to tell Taehyung that, but all he can manage are low moans and gasps of air. He’s been clutching the sheets and Taehyung in turn, but now he reaches for his cock. He just needs-

Taehyung intercepts Yoongi’s hand, pulling it away.

Yoongi makes a desperate sound, he needs-

But then Taehyung is stroking Yoongi instead and all of Yoongi’s desperation tilts quickly into pleasure and relief. Taehyung has barely touched Yoongi before Yoongi is coming, wet and messy between them. Yoongi is only vaguely aware of Taehyung coming a few strokes later. Making a low little noise that Yoongi wants to record.

Things are fuzzy for a moment, the waves of pleasure still receding. When Yoongi comes back to himself, he finds Taehyung draped over him, heavy enough to slip from comforting to uncomfortable. Yoongi prods at him gently, and Taehyung grunts, reaching between them to hold the condom as he pulls out and rolls off Yoongi.

Yoongi feels cold suddenly, empty and alone. He regrets asking Taehyung to move, maybe he should have just accepted being crushed.

Taehyung takes a deep breath and gets up, leaving the bedroom.

Yoongi lays still for a moment longer, but that must be his cue to leave.

He’s just sitting up to see if he can spot his clothes among the many scattered around the room, when Taehyung comes back, carrying a warm cloth. Yoongi expects him to offer it to Yoongi, nice enough to let Yoongi clean up before he goes, but Taehyung leans down to kiss Yoongi. Then, without asking, he carefully wipes the sweat from Yoongi’s face. Taehyung moves on from there, cleaning the come off of Yoongi’s stomach and the lube from between his legs.

Yoongi lets him, although it’s more intimate than he’d expected this night to be. Sweet. Sincere and a little strange in that way of Taehyung’s. Yoongi, naked in Taehyung’s bed, can hardly pretend not to be charmed by Taehyung’s ways.

The moment is slightly ruined when Taehyung tosses the dirty cloth somewhere in the mess on the floor, but Yoongi isn’t Hoseok so he makes himself forget it, focusing instead on the way Taehyung crawls into the bed and plasters himself to Yoongi’s side. “You’ll stay, won’t you?” Taehyung asks.

Yoongi moves a little closer and nods as if he hadn’t been already planning how to sneak back into his apartment without waking Seokjin or Hoseok.

Taehyung sighs, contented and tired, and they fall asleep quickly, tangled in each other.

#

Yoongi wakes up much earlier than he normally would. Taehyung is still deeply asleep. His long limbs are wrapped around Yoongi and his breath is warm on the nape of Yoongi’s neck. Yoongi lets himself drift there, sleepily snuggling back into Taehyung, and pulling his arm tighter around Yoongi. In Yoongi’s half awake state, it feels like they are blending together at the edges, Yoongi thoroughly enveloped in Taehyung’s heat, and skin, and scent - appealing despite the tang of club sweat and sex clinging to both of them.

Yoongi dozes like that for a while, but eventually his mind starts whirring again, stuck on the idea that this intimate moment is only going to make things awkward later.

Taehyung had written a song about Yoongi. Taehyung had pursued Yoongi last night. But Yoongi knows the song better than anyone. The lyrics and the inspiration. None of the comfortable warmth of this moment can change the fact that the song is about an experience that was sweetest the first time. That could never be repeated.

Last night had been so sweet. At least for Yoongi. But Yoongi isn’t twenty five anymore. If Taehyung expects him to outdo himself sexually on a regular basis - well, that’s a short path to disappointment. And Taehyung’s story about the peach suggests that he knows it.

So maybe Yoongi should just sneak out and save them both the discomfort of saying it. Yoongi hasn’t had to make a stealth exit recently, but he remembers the steps.

But-

But on the other hand. Taehyung had asked him to stay. Even if it’s only to be awkwardly rejected over breakfast, shouldn’t Yoongi honor that request?

Yoongi isn’t really sure sure, but the more he thinks about it, the more awake he is. And the more awake he is, the more his body begins to be aware of a pressing need to pee and an equally pressing need for water.

Yoongi sighs and wiggles out of Taehyung’s arms, trying not to wake him, but Taehyung frowns in his sleep. He looks uncomfortable, body at strange angles without Yoongi to hold, so Yoongi carefully slides a pillow into the spot he’d been occupying. Taehyung nuzzles into it, not so different from the way he’d had his face buried in Yoongi’s hair a moment ago. His frown smoothes.

That problem addressed, Yoongi turns to finding his clothes in the mess around the bed. Luckily, Taehyung prefers light and bright colors, so Yoongi’s dark things stand out and he finds them easily enough. Yoongi slips his clothes on, trying not to wince at the dried sweat feel of them.

The bathroom is easy enough to find in the small apartment, and the kitchen Yoongi had seen last night. It’s still early, and Yoongi makes sure to move quietly, but when he enters the kitchen area he finds Jungkook already there.

Despite drinking at least three times as much as Yoongi the night before, and who knows what else after Yoongi and Taehyung had left, Jungkook looks disgustingly awake. He’s dressed in what appears to be gym gear and he’s drinking some sort of hideous, but presumably, healthy smoothie. Yoongi mumbles a good morning, trying not to be embarrassed by his own bedraggled state and the obvious implication of his presence here.

“Good morning, hyung,” Jungkook says politely. Without prompting, he offers Yoongi a glass of water, which Yoongi gratefully accepts.

Yoongi drinks his water and tries to think of anything to say that isn’t just ‘good morning’ again. “Did you and Jimin have a good rest of your night?”

Jungkook smiles. “We did!” His expression turns teasing. “Did you?”

Yoongi gives Jungkook a dead eyed look that hopefully conveys how much Yoongi does not plan to answer that question.

Jungkook just laughs at him. “Well, I know Taehyung-hyung must have. He’s only been lusting after you since high school.”

What? Yoongi turns the sentence over in his mind carefully, trying to make sense of it. Nope. Maybe he misunderstood.

“We only met a couple of months ago,” Yoongi points out. “Unless Taehyung is a lot younger than he told me, and you are an actual infant, then that doesn’t add up.”

Jungkook’s expression turns completely delighted. “Oh, wow. He really never told you? He was…” Jungkook laughs again, a sound as delighted as his expression. “A big fan of your rap career.”

Yoongi shakes his head. “Come on. There’s no way he heard of me back then. I wasn’t famous or anything.”

Jungkook shrugs. “He’s always been really into underground music. Anything that’s not completely mainstream, you know. I think a friend took him to one of your shows? All I know, is that when I met him in college, he had an actual poster of you in his room.”

Yoongi stares. They hadn’t sold many of those posters. “He never said.”

Jungkook laughs again, clearly anticipating the havoc he’s going to create. “Yeah, probably embarrassed. Was he a total wreck when you met?”

Was he? Yoongi tries to remember any hint of nervousness. No. Taehyung had been smooth. Taehyung was always smooth. It was Yoongi who had been a wreck when they met. It was Yoongi who felt like a wreck now.

Whatever hero worship Taehyung had felt as a teenager, he’d clearly matured out of it, and if he hadn’t already, meeting Yoongi would have done it.

And now. Well.

Well, Yoongi can’t blame Taehyung for taking the chance to hook up with someone he’d once had a crush on. It was a natural desire to test out those old fantasies.

Yoongi had thought that the song, the peach, that all of that was about Yoongi.

It was disappointing to find out that it wasn’t. That Taehyung had been interested in the image Yoongi used to project on the stage.

But, Yoongi could hardly be self righteous about it. Back then, Yoongi had slept with plenty of people who he’d known full well hadn’t wanted Yoongi at all, only his stage persona. Back then, Yoongi had played along, eager for sex and all that fame was supposed to bring.

Not recently. It rarely comes up anymore, as less and less people remember his brief stage career, and Yoongi is fine with that. In the last couple of years, when someone has brought it up, Yoongi hasn’t pursued it. That type of hookup was more work than Yoongi liked these days. The pressure to be the person they thought he was. The person Yoongi had been on stage, fueled by old anger and the adrenaline of performing. It took a lot to pretend to be that person, and-

Well. Yoongi hadn’t realized that Taehyung wanted that. Yoongi hadn’t even tried. He hopes Taehyung wasn’t too disappointed.

“You okay?” Jungkook asks, looking concerned now. Yoongi wonders what his face is doing.

“Yeah, I’m- It’s just. I have to go. I have a- You’ll tell Taehyung I said good-bye, won’t you?”

Jungkook frowns. “You should tell him yourself, he won’t mind if you wake him up.”

Yoongi shakes his head. “No, I have to go. But it was nice to meet you, Jungkook-ah.”

Jungkook is still frowning. He looks as he’s going to protest, but he doesn’t. “It was nice to meet you too, hyung.”

Yoongi nods, and goes. He sits as far away from the other morning bus riders as he can. Outside the windows of the bus, the early morning sun turns the buildings and the trees and the people of the city golden. Yoongi doesn’t notice, too busy running back through every interaction he’s had with Taehyung, trying to find the things he’d missed the first time.

#

Given how persistent Taehyung can be, Yoongi half expects him to call, or message, or just show up at Yoongi’s studio that day or the next. But he doesn’t.

Yoongi takes that as confirmation. One bite of the peach was enough.

A week passes and then two. Yoongi spends most of the time locked away in his studio churning out b-sides for b-rated bands. None of it is particularly inspiring, but that’s an advantage in a way. It allows Yoongi to work steadily, pulling one of hundreds of already finished beats from his hard drives and layering over it. Beat, melody, lyrics, polish, done.

It’s a relief to find that his old methods still work after so much time following Taehyung’s whims. The clients seem perfectly happy with what Yoongi offers them, sending the checks along as promised. Perfect.

After two weeks of this, Namjoon is back in town, exhausted and happy at the end of his tour. One of Namjoon’s other friends has organized celebratory drinks and, as much as Yoongi would like to hide in his studio for another week or five, he can’t not show up for Namjoon.

Of course, Yoongi should have expected that Taehyung would be there. If Yoongi had listened to the invitation more closely, he might have realized that the friend who organized the night out was Jimin, but Yoongi hadn’t listened. Yoongi doesn’t even think he’d known that Namjoon and Jimin were friends. Or whatever you would call the way Namjoon is looking at Jimin.

Luckily, there are enough people there that there’s no need for Yoongi to do more than nod a greeting at Taehyung as they pass each other, which he does, expression carefully neutral. Taehyung doesn’t return the nod, looking at Yoongi blankly, not like he hasn’t seen Yoongi, but like he simply doesn’t care.

Fuck.

Yoongi wants to leave, but he makes himself smile at the next person who stops to talk to him. They chat easily about a new album from one of the rappers that Yoongi used to work with, back before she’d gotten snapped up by a girl group. That person drifts away and a new one takes their place, eager to discuss mixing software, before they too, drift into the crowd. That’s the good thing about this gathering at least, everyone can talk music.

Yoongi figures he’ll stay just long enough to say hello to Namjoon, long enough to finish his drink, and then he’ll duck out. Namjoon might not even notice Yoongi is gone, and if he does notice, it’s not like he’ll be surprised.

Until he can leave, Yoongi just has to stop trying to catch glimpses of Taehyung. It’s too easy to spot him, his height and his beauty and the unique energy he carries all make him stand out, even in the dim, crowded bar.

Jimin is suddenly in front of Yoongi. Focusing hard on not looking at Taehyung, Yoongi hadn’t noticed him coming. “Hello, hyung.”

Yoongi carefully swallows his sip of whiskey. “Hello, Jimin-ah.”

There’s none of the sparkling friendliness that Jimin had carried the last time they met. The beaming smile Jimin had been aiming at Namjoon a moment ago is gone, replaced by a stern expression. Despite the expression, his voice is even and pleasant when he says, “I want you to know that I’m being civil, because for some reason you’re important to Namjoon-hyung, but if you hurt Taehyung again, I will fuck you up.”

“Hurt? What- Is Taehyung okay?” Yoongi looks over at Taehyung, somehow able to unerringly find him in the crowd even though Taehyung is all the way across the room from when Yoongi had seen him last. Taehyung is being corralled into the the corner of the bar by Jungkook, who is insistently showing Taehyung something on his phone.

Jungkook catches Yoongi looking and puts an arm around Taehyung, focusing his attention more firmly on the phone and away from Yoongi. Yoongi supposes that Jimin has asked Jungkook to distract Taehyung from this confrontation, but Taehyung looks fine, if confused by Jungkook’s insistence.

Jimin snorts, an inelegant sound that somehow conveys an elegant disdain. “Aside from having his heart trod on by someone he really liked? Sure, he’s fine.”

Yoongi’s mouth feels dry. “Liked? No, he- Jungkook said- No, that’s not right.”

Jimin frowns at Yoongi. “Jungkook said what?”

But Jimin isn’t the one Yoongi needs to be talking to right now. Yoongi leaves his drink there, half finished even though he’d paid for the top shelf stuff to get himself through this, and wades through the crowd to where Jungkook is saying with an edge of desperation, “No, uh, hyung, you really need to see this, um, cat video.”

“Jungkook-ah,” Taehyung says, sounding exasperated.

Yoongi taps Taehyung on the shoulder. Taehyung freezes, shoulders hunching in, as if he knows who it is just from that touch. He straightens his posture and turns to Yoongi. “PD-nim?”

“Taehyung-ah…” Yoongi says sadly. Now that Yoongi is really looking, now that he’s trying to see through Taehyung’s careful blankness, Yoongi sees something wary and hurt. Something that makes him think Jimin hadn’t been exaggerating. Fuck. Yoongi is such a fucking jerk. “Taehyung-ah, can we talk?”

Taehyung thinks about it. He takes long enough considering that Jungkook, who has been hovering protectively, starts to step between the two of them just as Taehyung finally says, “Okay.”

Yoongi looks around the room. Just then a loud roar breaks out from the small dance floor as someone convinces the DJ to play a girl group song that Namjoon worked on. There’s no space in here for a conversation. “Outside?”

Taehyung nods, pats Jungkook’s shoulder reassuringly, and moves with Yoongi toward the entrance. They’ve only taken two steps when Jimin stops them, whispering something to Taehyung while glaring fiercely at Yoongi. Taehyung whispers something back and Jimin lets him go, glare still aimed firmly at Yoongi.

Outside, the street is busy with people moving between bars and restaurants, but a few steps over, there’s a little alley of clothing shops, all closed for the day. Yoongi leads them far enough down that the music and conversation from the crowded street is quieter. He stops in front of a brightly lit window display of bathing suits and summer shorts.

Taehyung follows, but doesn’t say anything, staring at the sidewalk.

Yoongi starts. “Taehyung-ah, I know we didn’t really talk and I think- I’m realizing that I misunderstood some things.”

Taehyung folds his arms over his chest, an obviously protective gesture. So obviously hurt now that Yoongi knows to look for it. Why does Yoongi keep assuming all the wrong thing about him? “What things?” Taehyung asks.

The realization of how wrong he’s been is making Yoongi’s chest ache. “I- I thought. I thought that it was like the peach. You know, only good the first time.”

“Yeah,” Taehyung says, holding himself tighter. “I got that.”

Yoongi realizes he’s only making thing worse, stumbling over his words as he rushes to correct himself. “No. I mean- I mean, I thought that’s what you- That’s what you wanted. Just once you know. Just to- Well, Jungkook said that you had- Um, that you’d liked me in high school.”

Taehyung looks up, eyes wide, his expression thoroughly embarrassed. Apparently, Jungkook hadn’t shared that conversation. Taehyung opens his mouth, but doesn’t say anything, just looking like he’d rather be anywhere but here.

Yoongi doesn’t know how to comfort him. “It’s- Taehyung, it’s fine. It’s flattering that you liked me like that.”

Taehyung only looks more embarrassed. “Hyung…”

Yoongi continues. “But when I heard that, I thought- I made some assumptions. I- I thought maybe you know, you just wanted- I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have assumed this, but that you just wanted to- Well, people don’t usually want anything real with a fantasy like that. And I’m sure I didn’t live up to whatever, um. Whatever you were expecting.”

Taehyung is frowning now. “Hyung, you didn’t have anything to live up to, and even if you did, you still would have been better.”

Yoongi’s face feels warm. “Right. I- Well, like I said. I made some assumptions and now I think maybe I was wrong. And we should- We should at least be clear with each other.”

Taehyung is still frowning. “Well, you still aren’t being clear. You thought I wanted you just once, to, what, live out some adolescent fantasy?”

“Like the peach,” Yoongi says helplessly.

“Hyung, that’s- First of all, you aren’t a peach.”

“That’s not what you said…” Yoongi can’t help mumbling, even though the memory makes him feel hot all over.

Taehyung sounds impatient now. “Okay, well. But Hyung, even if- I still like peaches.”

Yoongi is confused, but it feels almost comforting to be confused by Taehyung again. “What?”

“I mean, even if that first memory was the best, I still love peaches. I eat them all the time. It’s not like, ‘oh, one time it was really good, guess I’ll never have another peach.’ Maybe someday I’ll have an even better one. I can’t know until it happens.”

“Right…” Yoongi says, even though he’s not sure he’s following.

Taehyung seems to be on a roll now. “And- And not everything is like peaches. Some things get better with time. You weren’t the best you’ve ever been at playing the piano the first time you played, were you?”

Yoongi shakes his head.

Taehyung looks at him intently. “Sex is like the piano, hyung. It’s usually better after practice.”

Yoongi swallows. That’s probably true, although he’d thought their night together was pretty fucking great.

“Maybe…” Taehyung is more cautious now. “Maybe, if we practice, our best time will be fifty years from now.”

The idea of it makes Yoongi’s throat feel tight, but he manages to say softly, “I’ll be almost eighty, Tae-ah.”

Taehyung is still watching him carefully. “You’d need to keep fit. Practice a lot probably.”

“Yeah. I probably would.”

Taehyung steps closer. “Is that what you want, hyung?”

Yoongi looks up at him. “To have sex with you until I’m eighty?”

Taehyung’s expression is so open and vulnerable that there’s no way for Yoongi to be confused now. “Yeah. Or I mean- To at least find out if we want that. If we want to last that long. Together, I mean.”

Yoongi feels a tension, a hurt and a longing that he hadn’t even let himself acknowledge, untangle itself in his chest. “Yeah, Tae-ah. I’d really like to try together with you.”

“Hyung,” Taehyung says. Then he’s backing Yoongi against the window of the store, pressing him into the glass, and kissing him right there in the lights of the display.

Yoongi kisses back because he doesn’t want another misunderstanding, but the lights and the night air and the sounds of the street are all too exposed for him. He pulls back after a moment. “Taehyung-ah, not here. We can- Do you want to come back to my apartment? It’s not too far.”

“See if the second time can be better than the first?” Taehyung says, his low voice making Yoongi shiver.

“Yeah.”

So they do. It’s about a kilometer to Yoongi’s, but they decide to walk, talking the whole while. Yoongi trying to recalibrate his understanding of Taehyung and everything between them one more time.

Halfway there, they have to pause the conversation while Taehyung fields a phone call from a worried Jimin. Jimin is barely understandable because Jungkook had insisted he take the call on speaker phone, even in the loud noise of the bar, so that Jungkook could hear too. Taehyung manages to soothe them both, although Jimin is annoyed when it turns out that his advice is being ignored. Jungkook seems straightforwardly happy for them though.

Yoongi misses the end of the call, too busy fielding a string of sad, drunk emojis from Namjoon, who had evidently noticed Yoongi’s absence after all.

They finally arrive, only for Yoongi to realize that he hadn’t really thought this through as he opens the door of his apartment on the predictable scene of Seokjin loudly battling some video game boss as Hoseok sorts laundry and cheers him on. They both look up, obviously surprised to see someone with Yoongi, which is already slightly embarrassing.

Seokjin actually pauses his game, which is how Yoongi knows that whatever happens next will be even more embarrassing, “Well. You must be Taehyung-ssi.”

Hoseok smiles. “We’ve heard so much about you.”

Yoongi groans, but Taehyung beams and Yoongi would accept a lot of embarrassment to keep him smiling so happily.

#

Yoongi and Namjoon have been working on the same track for so long that everything is starting to take on a otherworldly quality, as if nothing exists outside of this studio, slowly filling with protein bar wrappers and Namjoon’s empty candy packets.

The song is not getting any better. All of Namjoon’s ideas have fallen flat, and all of Yoongi’s careful techniques haven’t produced anything other than slight variations in wrongness.

Namjoon is sprawled on the couch, staring at the ceiling. “Maybe it’s fine,” he says as he’s been saying for almost an hour now, even though they both know it isn’t fine. He just wants to leave. He’s been muttering something about sunlight for even longer than he’s been insisting that the song is fine actually.

Yoongi glares at him, balefully.

He and Namjoon have made many good songs in the two and a half months since they’d gotten recruited into the world of steady corporate paychecks. They’ve worked well together, usually able to solve any problem with enough time left over for their own projects. But this time, whatever shared magic they have is not working and unfortunately this song is due tomorrow.

“Maybe it’s fine,” Namjoon says again, a little hopelessly.

Before Yoongi can say something regrettable, the door beeps with the sound of the code being punched in. Namjoon leans up on his elbows and looks between the door and Yoongi incredulously, apparently not believing that Yoongi would give out his code to anyone.

Taehyung sweeps in, wincing a little at the sight of them. “Still, no progress, huh?”

Yoongi shakes his head, while Namjoon continues to peer at Taehyung as if he’s never seen another human being before.

Taehyung gives Namjoon a puzzled look before crossing the room to kiss Yoongi. It makes some of the terrible tension in Yoongi’s back unwind. “Hey.”

Taehyung hands Yoongi a tangerine and Yoongi eagerly peels it. The taste of something other than a bar proclaiming it’s ability to ‘build muscle in no time!’ is almost overwhelming. Taehyung gives Namjoon a banana which Namjoon takes with another confused look. “Thanks?”

“Eat your fruit, Joon-ah” Yoongi orders, mouth full of sweet tangerine.

“Can I hear it?” Taehyung asks.

Yoongi plays it again. It almost hurts to hear at this point, he’s so sick of it and so frustrated by not being able to fix it.

“Hm,” Taehyung says and hands him another tangerine. “One more time?”

Yoongi plays it again and then once more. He has the second tangerine finished by the time Taehyung is satisfied.

“I see what you mean. It needs more gravel.”

Yoongi narrows his eyes at Taehyung.

“Gravel?” Namjoon says.

Taehyung hums. “Not like…actual gravel, but like…grit. Dirt. It’s too perfect now.”

Namjoon looks at Yoongi, obviously confused, but shockingly, Yoongi knows exactly what Taehyung means. After a few months together, Yoongi is getting better at understanding him, and music might be where they communicate the best.

Yoongi is already turning back to the computer. It takes a minute to create the kind of effect that he thinks Taehyung means. When he plays it back, Taehyung smiles. “Yes! Just like that.”

Now Namjoon looks thoughtful too, hearing what Taehyung is getting at. They all work together to figure out exactly where it should be layered in and out, and then, what other things need to be tweaked in response. They only argue a little.

It’s less than an hour later when Yoongi can play the whole song back and finally, finally not feel the twinge of dissatisfaction that’s been chasing him all day.

Yoongi tugs Taehyung over to him, and kisses him. “You’re amazing.”

Taehyung beams, pleased.

Namjoon is gathering his candy wrappers, the ultimate sign of a job finally finished. “Maybe he did manic pixie dream girl you, hyung. The Min Yoongi putting dirt in his songs.” He shakes his head as if in disapproval, but he’s laughing.

Yoongi tosses another handful of empty candy wrappers at him, laughing too.

Taehyung pulls Yoongi back into a hug, and Yoongi lets him, meeting Taehyung halfway.