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take my hand, wreck my plans

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When Yoongi wakes up, the first thing he registers is a dull headache behind his eyes. Nothing makes him feel old the way a hangover does. It’s unfair, the way these things get worse when you get older. He cracks open just one of his eyes, bleary, but he wakes up a little when a quick glance around reminds him suddenly, more quickly than the rest of his still-sleepy senses, that this is not his bedroom.

Right. Yoongi blinks to himself sleepily, eyes scanning around, taking in an assortment of handmade-y looking posters and prints, mismatched colorful furniture and crates of vinyl records in the corner. He doesn’t see the man who this bedroom belongs to, the one with the wavy hair and the long eyelashes and the deep voice. Yoongi hates this part of hookups, the part where he has to figure out how to act the morning after. If he should get up, or wait here, or if they have roommates or which way their bathroom is.

Just as he’s debating getting up and putting on some clothes, the bedroom door opens, and Yoongi is met with the sight of the boy from last night, Taehyung, holding two mugs in his hands and wearing only a pair of briefs and a pair of slightly unfashionable glasses.

“Oh. Good morning!” He says pleasantly.

“Hey,” Yoongi replies, rubbing at his face for a moment.

“I made you coffee. You seem like you drink coffee black,” Taehyung tells him, shuffling over to the side of the bed Yoongi has ended up on. There’s not a real end table on this side, just two milk crates spray painted green stacked on each other, so Yoongi assumes it’s not the side Taehyung frequents most. He sets the mug down on the milk crates.

Yoongi huffs a laugh. “I’ll take that as a compliment?” Taehyung just hums at him, then walks over to the side with the wooden end table and sets the second mug down there. He walks off then, and Yoongi watches him walk over to a bookshelf against the wall and grab an old fashioned-looking tape recorder off of a shelf.

“Would you like to do this before or after coffee?” Taehyung asks him, expression curious, and it takes Yoongi a moment to remember what he’s talking about.

Last night, under the purple lights of a nightclub, Taehyung looked at him with his long eyelashes and his wavy hair and his deep voice, and he said, “I’m working on an art project.” They were far enough away from the DJ and the crowd of sweaty gay men bouncing in front of them that they could have something almost like a conversation, even if they did still need to raise their voices a little.

And Yoongi, less interested in the art project and more interested in the alluring sort of handsomeness this guy shimmered with, said, “Oh?”

“I record conversations with all the men I sleep with, the morning after,” Taehyung told him, voice calm. “Are you interested in participating?” He asked the question like this was a casual topic of discussion for him, but when Yoongi looked close, he could see the ghost of a smirk hiding at the edges of his pleasant expression.

Yoongi blinked. Looked him over slowly, and as his eyes made it back up to Taehyung’s, he said, “You’re forward.”

“Only with the ones I really like,” Taehyung responded back, and there it was, the smirk Yoongi could feel coming. He had agreed eventually, partly because he had the suspicion at the time that Taehyung might be using the art project as more of a line than anything. But evidently not, he thinks as Taehyung sits down at the end of the bed, pressing buttons on his tape recorder. He glances up at Yoongi after another beat of silence, looking for an answer, and Yoongi blinks.

“Uh,” he answers. He grabs the mug from the side of the bed, holds it in his hands, and wishes that he had a chance to put some underwear on before this. He’s never been interviewed naked before. Or at all, but. The nakedness feels significant. “During. I guess. Is fine. You were really being serious?”

“Yes,” Taehyung answers easily, perfectly calm about it all. He finishes pressing all his buttons, and sets the tape recorder down in front of him on the bed. “There.”

Yoongi glances down at the now whirring tape recorder, the tape within spinning. This has all really caught him off-guard. “What...what do we talk about?”

“You can say whatever you want,” Taehyung tells him. He sits cross-legged, back slouched as he looks across the bed at Yoongi. “But you can start with talking about last night. You know, what happened, or what you wanted to happen.”

Yoongi narrows his eyes, palms tightening around the warmth of his mug. “Why?”

Taehyung shrugs. “Just because.”

“Your art project is to just...have me talk about last night. While you lay there.”

“Basically,” Taehyung answers with a nod.

“Are people going to listen to this?” Yoongi asks.

“If you’re interesting,” Taehyung says, another smirk on his lips.

Yoongi looks between his face and the tape recorder, and lets out a begrudging little sigh. “I don’t...where do I start?”

“Start from when you first saw me,” Taehyung tells him. It would sound sleazy, maybe, if Taehyung was just slightly different. If he was a slightly less straightforward person, from what little Yoongi’s seen of him, anyway.

“Okay. You were standing at a table, and you had a drink, and you looked…” Yoongi pauses, thinking over his word choice. “Good.”

“Good?” Taehyung questions, seemingly unimpressed.

“Hot,” Yoongi offers instead. Taehyung seems to accept this with a nod. “Maybe out of my league.”

“Interesting,” Taehyung comments, raising his eyebrows impartially. “Do you really believe that?”

Yoongi looks Taehyung over, the way he’s tan and long-legged, broad-shouldered, his face sharp and handsome even with puffy morning eyes. “I don’t think I’m ugly or anything,” Yoongi explains.

“That’s good, it would be silly if you did.”

“You’re just like…” Yoongi trails off, gesturing up and down Taehyung’s form. “It’s different.” Uncomfortably attractive, Yoongi thinks he could call Taehyung. Striking, but in the literal sense; like Yoongi’s been struck. But he doesn’t know this man, and that’s a little more compliment than he usually pays anyone in these circumstances.

“But you still came and talked to me,” Taehyung says, prompting him forward.

Yoongi shrugs. “You were hot. Why not, you know?”

Taehyung cocks his head curiously. “Do you think you’re a fearless kind of person?”

“Fearless? No,” Yoongi says easily, giving a laugh. “No, definitely not. I’m a pretty cautious person, about a lot of things. But that? What’s the worst that can happen if you come onto someone who doesn’t want you back? Rejection? Who cares. It’s not like you know them.”

Taehyung gives him a grin, eyebrows raised. “Interesting.”

“You sound more like a psychologist than an artist, you know,” Yoongi tells him.

“I think there’s overlap,” Taehyung says. “Most art is about people, I think, and the best thing about people is their minds.”

Yoongi considers that, and finds that he doesn’t disagree. He shifts in the bed, takes a sip of coffee.

“You were overdressed, you know,” Yoongi tells him. “In your little...trousers, or whatever.”

“I like dressing like that,” Taehyung says simply. He doesn’t sound offended.

“That’s what got me looking at you. That’s all I meant.”

“I liked your t-shirt,” Taehyung says. Yoongi glances behind him where it’s balled up on the floor, an oversized black shirt with a skull on the back, a snake crawling out from one eye. “I thought you seemed very cool.”

Yoongi can’t deny that he likes hearing that, but he just exhales another little laugh for the sake of Taehyung and his recording. “And was I?” He asks instead of saying thank you.

“I didn’t expect you to want me to fuck you,” Taehyung tells him. “You seemed like someone who might be opposed to that, with your whole pointy sarcastic thing.”

Yoongi raises his eyebrows. “Oh?”

“And you’re little, too. I feel like so many other guys with your whole vibe top, like, exclusively.”

“My whole vibe?” Yoongi asks, furrowing his eyebrows. “Am I that generic?” He’s a little offended, despite the fact that it doesn’t really matter what Taehyung thinks of him.

“Is it so surprising to you that you didn’t invent your personality?” Taehyung asks. He seems frustratingly non-reactionary. “It wasn’t an insult. I liked your vibe.”

Yoongi takes another sip of coffee. This isn’t the least fun morning after he’s ever had, but it’s weird, and he keeps waiting for Taehyung to tell him that their little interview is over. The tape recorder is still spinning, though, and Yoongi has an itch to see this through. Something about Taehyung bristles against him, Yoongi could tell that last night, but not in an entirely unpleasant way. Besides, he’s interesting enough that he’d rather stay for more of this than leave now.

“Yeah. I enjoy getting fucked. I’m not that picky about it, really, but. I wanted something, so I asked for it. It’s not a big deal to me,” Yoongi says eventually with a shrug.

“Was I good?” Taehyung asks him, not missing a beat. “Did you like the sex?”

“Yeah,” Yoongi answers easily. “You were good. You have...a nice dick.” He makes a face at himself, glances at the tape recorder again. “I feel weird saying that on tape.”

“Would you have said something better if we weren’t on tape?” Taehyung asks, looking amused, and Yoongi raises his eyebrows at him. Taehyung brushes past it, though. “You’re well within the range of normal so far,” he says.

Yoongi snorts. He picks his knees up under the sheets, sits curled into a ball with the tops of his thighs pressed against his chest. “You kissed my nose in the middle of it.”

Taehyung hums. “Did I?”

“Yes. It was...you took me by surprise,” Yoongi says. It’s a vivid memory in the middle of a sequence of blurrier ones, a sort of run-together montage of feels good, feels good, god he’s hot, interrupted by something startlingly gentle. It threw him off his usual rhythm.

“I like your nose,” Taehyung says. “I can see why I would have kissed it.”

At that, Yoongi feels himself go a little pink, surprised by the straightforwardness of it. “What about me?” He asks Taehyung, hoping he doesn’t notice. “Was I good?”

Taehyung looks him over. “Yeah, you were really good.” And there’s something lingering in his gaze, Yoongi notices, that makes him feel a little warm. “You were confident. I like that.”

“What makes you think it was confidence instead of just selfishness?” Yoongi asks him.

Taehyung pauses, gives him another sweep over with his eyes, calm. “I’m a good judge of character.”

They look at each other for a moment, and Yoongi is reminded of the tension he felt between them last night, a quiet sort of static that builds up the longer they talk to each other. Opposing forces, gathering friction. Hm.

“Do you have any other interview questions for me?” Yoongi asks, glancing at the tape recorder again.

“Do you do this often?” Taehyung asks him. “Anonymous hookups?”

“I would kind of consider this deeply un-anonymous,” Yoongi says with a nod to the tape recorder. “This is maybe my most documented hookup ever.”

“Documented and anonymous are two different things. Your name’s not even on the tape,” Taehyung argues. “Hookups with strangers, if you’re going to be annoying about it.”

Yoongi rolls his eyes, but he thinks about it. He doesn’t do a lot of analysis of his own habits like this. “I don’t know. Not that often. Maybe every few months.”

“What made you come to that club last night, then?” Taehyung is looking at him with an honest curious look, and Yoongi finds it so weird and compelling. It’s not the kind of look he gets from a lot of people, and certainly not people he met twelve hours previously. He finishes the last of the coffee, sets the mug down on Taehyung’s milk crates.

Yoongi looks him over, from his ankles crossed over one another up to the soft of his thighs, to the just-visible tattoo of a red strawberry on his hip. He keeps looking, up his soft torso to the dark freckles scattered across his chest and shoulders and his face, handsome behind his wire-rimmed glasses. “I was feeling restless,” he answers finally.

“Did I help?” Taehyung asks him. He leans back to rest on the palms of his hands against the bed, like an invitation for Yoongi to look even closer, but Yoongi doesn’t take it.

He runs a hand through his hair. “I think so,” he says quietly.

Taehyung hums again, shooting Yoongi a small grin before he leans forward and clicks a button on the tape recorder, making it go still. “Thanks for your contribution to the arts.”

Yoongi glances down at it again. “You’re so welcome,” he says flatly. Taehyung chuckles, amused.

“Yoongi-ssi,” Taehyung says, and Yoongi blinks, a little taken aback by the formality from someone who tried to lick his armpit last night. He’s almost positive he remembers Taehyung calling him hyung last night; he remembers liking it. “Can I have your number?”

He’s pulled back into the moment, and out of the memory of Taehyung’s voice mouthing the word hyung just at his ear, breath hot. “You really are forward,” Yoongi says, raising an eyebrow at him.

“Are you not a give your number kind of guy?” Taehyung asks, still grinning a little at him, almost condescendingly.

And usually, no, he’s not a give his number kind of guy. Usually he’s more of a leave a note while they’re still asleep kind of guy. But then, usually they aren’t as intriguing as Taehyung. That’s the word for it, he guesses, for what he’s feeling. Intrigue. Cautious curiosity, a desire to look a little closer.

“Are you?” Yoongi asks him, tilting his head slightly. “Do you usually follow up with your….subjects?” He gestures toward the tape recorder on the bed.

“No,” Taehyung tells him with a new easygoing tilt to his smile. “I’m very particular, really.” Yoongi can’t tell if he’s teasing or not.

“And I made the cut?” Yoongi asks with a sarcastic laugh.

“There’s something about you I like, Yoongi-ssi,” Taehyung says in response, leaning toward him slightly.

“Isn’t it a little too late to keep calling me that?” Yoongi asks with a huff of breath.

“What would you rather I call you?” Taehyung asks back, looking dreamily unfazed by Yoongi’s blustering. “Hyung? Oppa?”

“I — No. Not that,” Yoongi responds on instinct, flustered, and Taehyung laughs easily.

“Some guys like it, you know,” he says with an innocence that Yoongi is certain is feigned.

“Hyung is fine,” Yoongi responds with a deadpan glare.

“Sorry. Only teasing,” Taehyung says, still giggling through his words. “Sorry, hyung,” he amends, bowing his head slightly in apology toward Yoongi.

“Take my number, then,” Yoongi says, waving his hand dismissively with a roll of his eyes.

“Oh?” Taehyung asks, voice too amused for Yoongi’s liking.

“Quickly, before I give you a fake instead.”

Taehyung is still laughing quietly to himself as he grabs for his phone on the bedside table, leaned into Yoongi’s space to do it. Yoongi feels warm-cheeked, embarrassed in a way that feels just a little out of his control. It’s a nagging mosquito bite itch, the feeling of interest in someone that he didn’t plan.

When Yoongi finally leaves that morning, finally managing to extricate himself from the spiderweb of Taehyung and the smirk on his face and his stupid eyelashes, it’s like he had been standing at a slightly-tilted angle since he woke up, and feels righted again as he breathes in fresh air. Taehyung lives in a university area, busy and loud, and Yoongi feels like he’s remembering the human experience as he puts one foot in front of the other toward the bus stop in his wrinkled clothes. Remembering that he has to get to work before three. Remembering that there’s more to life than the strange gripping attraction he sometimes winds up with for boys who are too pretty and smart-mouthed for their own good.

Taehyung texts him while Yoongi is still on his train home, just an emoji of a bear, and Yoongi grudgingly saves Taehyung’s number in his phone. At this point, he figures, he might as well see where this goes.

++

  
    what’s your surname?
  

Yoongi sees the message on a break, sitting in the manager’s office in the back of the restaurant. It’s been almost exactly twenty-four hours since he thought about Taehyung, which he thinks is impressive, considering yesterday was the first interesting thing that’s happened to him in a month.

He looks at the message, like if he keeps staring at it, it will explain itself. He could ask why Taehyung’s asking, but he got the impression that Taehyung wasn’t the kind of person who would engage with his skepticism. Even from their brief conversation, Yoongi had learned to just go along with him. The alternative left him flustered.

    
      min.
    
  
  
    ah, thank you~
min yoongi-ssi, this is kim taehyung. how are you doing today?
  

Yoongi looks at the message, feeling a sort of begrudging amusement at the formal tense he’s using. He types back as informally as possible.

    
      i’m fine. at work. hbu
    
  
  
    do you like art?
  

    
      everyone likes art ?
    
  
  
    totally not true!!! ask my exes
  

Yoongi is aware that technically he should be back on the floor of the restaurant right now, wherever he’s needed at the moment, but he ignores it, deciding that taking a few extra minutes of lunch today is acceptable. He’s (sort of) the boss, hasn’t he earned a little time theft? Taehyung’s dropped the formality so now Yoongi can’t even pretend to be annoyed with him; he might as well see this through.

    
      i like art. why date anyone who doesn’t like art
    
  
  
    they thought they liked art but i think they just liked nudes?
i think nudes are great but some of my favorite art doesn’t have any penises in it
  

    
      a controversial and brave stance
    
  
  
    i work at an art gallery in hongdae. you could come by sometime
  

    
      of course you do
    
  
  
    i can’t tell if you’re being flirt mean or actually mean over text
  

    
      flirt mean?
    
  
  
    yea ur bitchy sarcastic flirting thing. is this that?
  

    
      i’m not flirting with you i’m just sarcastic.
    
  
  
    hmmmm ok that’s fine i guess.
would you like to see me again, or should i leave you alone?
  

Yoongi stares down at his phone again for a moment, feeling confronted. Everything about this conversation is just a little overly familiar, a little too honest, and Yoongi wishes he wasn’t kind of enjoying it.

    
      what kind of question is that? if i wanted you to leave me alone i wouldn’t have given you my number.
    
  
  
    you’re so tsundere~
  

    
      ok, hate that
what gallery do you work at
and what time, hypothetically, would you be free
    
  
“Yoongi-yah,” his brother greets him as he walks into the room, and Yoongi snaps his head up from his phone. “Can you get the bar inventory?”

“Yeah,” Yoongi agrees easily, standing up and making himself look busy. He glances at his phone screen briefly, at Taehyung’s quick reply, and says, “I have to leave at three today.”

His brother hums in acknowledgement. “Something come up?”

“Yeah,” Yoongi says simply. His brother just nods, says, “Tell Kwangsik to head back here when he has a minute, will you?” And Yoongi nods back, drifts back out to all the tasks he should do, and finds that he has to try pretty hard to avoid thinking about Taehyung instead.

++

When Yoongi arrives at the ugly, brutalist art gallery that Taehyung sent him the address to, he’s slightly surprised to see Taehyung behind the front desk, hanging up a polite call as he walks in.

“Oh,” Yoongi says.

“Hello,” Taehyung responds pleasantly.

The building is near-empty in the middle of the afternoon on a Friday, but Yoongi still looks around before walking further forward to talk to Taehyung properly. It’s strange, the energy of visiting another adult at their job.

“When you said you worked at a gallery, I was expecting something else, I guess,” Yoongi says. In the pause that follows the words exiting his mouth, he realizes it maybe sounds judgmental, and he corrects himself. “Not, I mean — you’re an artist. Or whatever. So I just didn’t expect you to be...stop looking at me like that.” He says the last sentence in a hushed scolding tone as he realizes that Taehyung is trying to suppress a laugh the longer he goes on.

Taehyung’s long dark hair is more kempt than Yoongi saw it previously, neater, but his outfit is almost the same. A similar sweater and pair of trousers. It makes more sense here, in this austere modern art gallery, than at a decidedly un-fancy nightclub, but it still feels a little surreal in its neatness. He looks deliberately styled, like a model might, and Yoongi finds it weirdly intimidating. It’s hard to really be intimidated by Taehyung, having spoken to him before, but it’s a weird little nervous tickle at the sight of him.

“I’m the receptionist. Consider yourself received,” Taehyung tells him with a charming smile. “Look around for…” Taehyung checks his watch, “About twenty minutes, and I’ll catch up with you.”

Yoongi hums and nods to him, ignoring the faint blush on his cheeks. Taehyung is good at that, at teasing him. It’s a little embarrassing, he thinks to himself mildly as he walks over to the exhibition space of the gallery.

It’s a decent exhibit to walk through while he waits for Taehyung, he thinks. He takes his time, winding around to look at the paintings hanging on the clean white walls, and wonders if Namjoon has been here. He could text him and ask, but...it isn’t worth it to explain the context right now. Maybe when he sees him on Sunday. Namjoon would like this exhibition, he thinks.

“So,” Taehyung says, startling Yoongi into a little jump as he leans close to say it near Yoongi’s ear from behind him.

“Good god,” Yoongi says, clutching his chest momentarily before turning around to Taehyung with a glare. Taehyung just looks pleased with himself.

“How are you enjoying your visit?” Taehyung asks.

“Three stars. The gallery was nice enough but the staff are rude,” Yoongi tells him with a scowl. Taehyung looks unfazed.

“Can’t please ‘em all,” he says simply, giving Yoongi a smile before he turns toward the painting Yoongi was looking at, large and imposing on the wall. “Do you like the exhibition?”

Yoongi turns to look at Taehyung out of the corner of his eye. “I do. Most of it, anyway. I like this style,” he says, looking for Taehyung to react. “I like when artists use color like this.”

In broad swaths, he means, looking at the painting ahead. A green-blue wash of paint, colors layered over top of each other with an orange blur at the center. He looks over at the wall to his left, gestures toward it. “I like that one.” Its canvas is red, shades of red built up all over, and there’s a similar blur in the center, but white. Below the blur is a lash of crisp white paint, a messy dripping shape but not blended and buffed to fade out like the blur above is.

Taehyung hums. “You’re interesting, Min Yoongi.” Yoongi turns to look at him again, waiting for more explanation, but instead Taehyung walks away, toward a further section of the gallery. He’s looking back at Yoongi, asking him to follow, so Yoongi does. He stops in front of a mottled blue canvas, splotches of grey blended through it, a warm orange-brown shape in the bottom left that almost looks like a person. It has the effect of a figure looking out into a rainy night, Yoongi thinks. “This one’s my favorite,” Taehyung says, nodding ahead of them.

“I wonder what that says about you,” Yoongi says with a twitch of a smile toward Taehyung. “Feels very moody and sensitive.”

Taehyung considers that. “Maybe a little,” he tells him with a self-deprecating look on his face. Taehyung turns, glances back toward the red painting. “What does that make you, then? Blunt? Passionate?”

Yoongi raises his eyebrows, feeling a little too easy to read. They both turn back to the painting for a moment, and they walk another lap around the gallery, taking the long way toward the exit.

“It’s good to see you,” Taehyung tells him, glancing over toward him as he says it. “Thanks for coming to see me at work.”

“Are you done for the day, then?” Yoongi asks him, noticing the bag that he’s carrying now, a canvas tote bag with long straps on one shoulder. Taehyung nods. “Yeah, there’s an event tonight, I don’t work for those. What about you? What do you do?”

“Ah,” Yoongi says with a laugh. “Lots of things. My brother has a restaurant in Samcheong, I work there most days.”

“Ooh,” Taehyung says. “Are you like, a manager?”

Yoongi shrugs. “I’m whatever I’m needed to be on the day.”

“Do you like it? Is it fun, to work in a restaurant?” Taehyung asks him.

Yoongi gives another chuckle and a shrug. “It’s...not something I would have chosen, if it wasn’t for my brother, but it’s not bad.”

Taehyung hums at him. “What would you have chosen, then?”

“I make music,” Yoongi says, looking down at his feet for a moment. “On my off hours.”

“Really?” Taehyung asks, sounding curious. “That’s cool, hyung.”

“Is it?” Yoongi asks him with an amused face. “You don’t even know what kind of music. Maybe I’m a professional flute player.”

“And that wouldn’t be cool? What’s your problem with the flute?” Taehyung asks back, obstinate expression on his face. Yoongi stares at him, willing him to break from it, but he stays steady. Annoying.

“You’re right, it’s an important instrument,” Yoongi agrees, turning away so Taehyung can’t read his reluctant amusement on his face.

“I know for a fact you make cool music,” Taehyung says. “You seem like a person who is decidedly cool.”

That makes Yoongi laugh out loud. “This is doing so much for my ego.”

“I always wanted to do music. I played the saxophone, in high school,” Taehyung says. “But I got more interested in other stuff.”

“Art?” Yoongi asks him.

“Oh, a little of everything, really, but yeah,” Taehyung says with a good-natured smile. They’re walking a little aimlessly down the street that Taehyung’s gallery is on, no discussed destination, their pace slow.

“What kind of art do you make? You never said.”

“Any kind I can,” Taehyung says. “I was really into pottery for a while, and sculpture. I like painting a lot. But I think artists who do multi-media shows are so cool, I’ve been wanting to do something with projection, or lights or something.” He talks with his hands and his slow voice, and Yoongi finds it hard to not listen to him as earnestly as he’s speaking.

“How about your…” Yoongi waves his hand vaguely in front of himself, “Current project. What are you doing with those tapes?”

“Hm...it’s kind of a mixture of everything, I think. I want it to feel like a weird scrapbook, almost. Like, I want the tape playing, or the transcripts hung up maybe, and then some photography, or maybe paintings that go along with them. It’s kind of fluid right now,” he says with a shrug.

Yoongi, against his will, is attracted to this. He didn’t know that creative competence was a turn-on of his, but he guesses it’s not totally out of left field.

“That sounds cool,” he admits, looking away from Taehyung as he says it, the action almost unconscious.

Taehyung hums, and when Yoongi glances back at him, he’s smiling to himself a little. Yoongi looks away again, not sure why he feels his cheeks warm for a moment.

 

They keep walking, weaving through Hongdae toward the nearest metro station. Taehyung suggests dinner, and Yoongi is hungry, so...why not. They head across town, in the direction of a noodle place that Taehyung said he wanted to try, and it’s all weirdly nice.

It’s been a long time, Yoongi thinks, since someone so acutely caught his interest, so forcefully drew him in. Taehyung is a little weird, and a little bit of a brat, maybe, but there’s something about him that’s surprising enough to make Yoongi want to keep watching. Something that shimmers every so often, the pattern unpredictable, keeping Yoongi’s attention.

They’re talking about music again by the time they walk off of the subway car, dodging around corporate commuters and loud college students.

“I’m jealous of you,” Taehyung says with complaint in his voice. “It sounds so impressive to say you compose music.”

“Oh, hardly anymore, I think. It’s so much easier to get equipment and training now —” Yoongi starts, the conversation easier than it has any right to be, but his train of thought is interrupted by the sound of rain greeting them at the top of the open steps up to the street. Hard, loud rain that sprung up in the last half-hour they’d been underground, bad enough that the people walking unprotected down into the station are soaked.

Taehyung groans in disappointment. “Aw, man,” he says. “The line’s always out the door at that place, we’re gonna get drenched.”

Yoongi hums, an agreeing disappointed tone. “I...live nearby,” he offers, trying to make it sound casual. “Let me check if the storm is supposed to stop soon, maybe we could wait it out.”

Taehyung raises his eyebrows at him, a slow smirk creeping onto his face to replace his pout. “Now who’s forward?”

Yoongi rolls his eyes. “It’s not a come-on. Even if we get a car to a different restaurant, we’ll be soaked by the time we get there, and I have no desire to sit in wet jeans while eating in public, okay?”

“Mhm,” Taehyung says with a nod, but he sounds sarcastic, teasing. Yoongi looks at him, and Taehyung looks back, blinks his eyes innocently.

“You are…” Yoongi starts, trying to keep up his glare at Taehyung before looking back to the weather report on his phone. He’s not sure how to end that sentence for a moment, but he finally mumbles, “a handful.”

“If you play your cards right,” Taehyung sing-songs back at him, and Yoongi shoots him a withering look.

“The rain’s supposed to stop in an hour. My building’s five blocks up,” Yoongi says instead of responding to that.

Taehyung gives a considering hum. “Let’s get umbrellas, then.”

Even with the five thousand-won umbrellas purchased from a stand in the station, the windy, rainy walk to Yoongi’s apartment leaves them dripping wet as they hurry up to the building Yoongi gestures Taehyung toward. It’s not cold, at least; it’s just before Autumn will truly hit, so the rain is more warm and humid than anything. Still, the feeling is unpleasant, his clothes soaked through as he hurriedly enters the passcode to his front door and they rush inside.

When they finally make it to Yoongi’s apartment, Taehyung shakes his head like a wet dog, sending a spray of water into Yoongi’s face.

“Really?” Yoongi complains, but when Taehyung looks up at him apologetically, he can’t find the heart to be annoyed. “Do you want to...borrow something to wear, or something?”

Taehyung pauses, like he’s thinking about it, and then he says, “I can’t answer that at all without saying something about getting in your pants. I tried, but I can’t.”

Yoongi’s face turns into a disgusted grimace, and Taehyung lets out a delighted laugh.

It’s a weirdly intimate experience, getting undressed side-by-side with someone who you don’t know very well in a decidedly non-sexual setting. Yoongi hands him dry clothes from his dresser, oversized and comfortable, and finds that Taehyung looks endearingly small in them. He’s only seen Taehyung in well-tailored clothing, and he looks sort of rumpled and comfortable, his dark hair almost touching his shoulders while it’s wet.

It’s a little strange, the sudden intrusion of Taehyung into his little space. Someone so new and odd, wearing his clothes, standing in his bedroom. Taehyung is looking around the room, from Yoongi’s unmade bed to his messy desk in the corner, a framed Epik High poster hanging above it next to a framed movie poster. Yoongi supposes it’s only fair — he got to scope out Taehyung’s colorful, mismatched bedroom and make his own assumptions and connections, Taehyung may as well get the same opportunity. He has a feeling, though, that the act felt a lot less exposing for Taehyung than it does for Yoongi.

“Come on,” Yoongi complains, “Get out of my bedroom.”

Taehyung looks at him with curiosity. “Oh, are you hiding something?”

“Several skeletons just waiting to jump out of the closet. Get out,” Yoongi says again, no real heat in his words.

“Do you have tea, hyung?” Taehyung asks him, taking his direction and heading back out down Yoongi’s little hallway toward the main room of the apartment.

Yoongi makes an agreeing noise — tea is a good idea. They’re out of the warm humidity now, and his wet hair is chilling him. He squeezes past Taehyung, moves toward the kitchen, but Taehyung follows him closely. He leans against Yoongi’s kitchen wall, watching him putter between the kettle, the sink, and the little shelf that he keeps tea on in the corner, and Yoongi feels his eyes on him.

When he looks over, though, Taehyung is looking at the mugs that Yoongi set on the table for them. Mismatched stoneware, one with rabbits in a field etched into it, the other with a single flower painted on.

“Cute,” Taehyung says, finger running over the carved rabbit.

“They’re from Dongmyo Market. I like buying house stuff there,” Yoongi says, crossing his arms in front of his chest as he waits for his electric kettle to come to a boil.

“Vintage kitchenware is not something I expected from you,” Taehyung tells him, sounding amused, and Yoongi huffs a laugh.

“My friends like flea markets a lot. I like to tag along. I don’t know...it feels like stuff like that has a story.” Yoongi pauses, considers that, feels a little embarrassed. “Is that stupid?”

“I don’t think it’s stupid,” Taehyung answers easily, voice less teasing than Yoongi’s heard it today. He sounds quiet, earnest in a way that only freaks Yoongi out a little.

“Like, some grandma somewhere really loved that mug, I bet,” Yoongi continues on, letting himself feel reassured by Taehyung watching and listening to him patiently. “And then she died, and no one else cared about it like she did, and it ended up on a table at a market full of other people’s things. And now I have it. And I like it. It’s like a part of someone keeps living in little trinkets like that.”

“Kind of poetic, Min Yoongi,” Taehyung tells him with an easy smile. He looks Yoongi over, head to toe, and Yoongi feels exposed again, the way he had when Taehyung looked at his posters on his wall.

“Every once in a while.” Yoongi shuffles his weight on his feet, curling his toes absentmindedly inside his house slippers. Taehyung is barefoot, his feet padding slowly across the kitchen, closer to him. He’s not sure where Taehyung intends to stop, but he doesn’t feel like letting Taehyung lead this interaction, so he keeps talking. “This art project of yours. What’s it about, to you?”

He’s been wondering, since Taehyung talked about it earlier. He has his own ideas, but it’s a strange, unique situation, to get to ask someone why they made something when you’re contributing to its creation.

Taehyung’s pace slows, and he’s standing a couple feet away from Yoongi now, a distance that feels confrontationally close but also just a little too far. He hums, crossing his own arms. “It’s about a lot of things, I think.” He looks like he’s collecting his thoughts, and Yoongi waits, just as patient as Taehyung did before. “I like the contrast. I like making something kind of sentimental out of a one night stand. Something intimate out of something casual, you know. But it’s also like...it’s so interesting, how different the tapes are. I feel like they tell such a weird little story together, this mosaic of random people whose only shared point is sleeping with me.” He pauses, laughs to himself. “I also just think it’s fun to show gay sex in a way that feels personal and intimate, like this very human thing.”

Yoongi nods. He’s finding that he likes how Taehyung thinks, under his charisma and smart mouth, under the air of teasing confidence he carries.

“So how do I stack up, against the other tapes?” Yoongi asks, almost smiling. “Boring, I bet.”

Taehyung eyebrows raise, surprised. “You mean the interview, or the sex?”

“Well, when you ask me that, the question seems a little ego-driven,” Yoongi replies, feeling chastised, though he knows it wasn’t Taehyung’s intention.

“Aren’t most things ego-driven?” Taehyung responds with a laugh. “Neither were boring, for the record. Do you think you’re boring? You’re not boring.”

Yoongi considers that. No, most of the time, he doesn’t. It’s just that Taehyung is this new and strange thing, different colors reflecting off of every facet of him, and Yoongi sort of feels in the audience of it at the moment. “I don’t think I’m boring. I think I come off…I don’t know, serious, maybe.”

Taehyung hums, makes a big show of thinking that over, and the kettle clicks off. Yoongi turns away from him, grabs the handle to walk over to the table and pour it into the mugs, and when he turns back, Taehyung is closer to him, just watching him.

“Would you believe that I’ve done multiple of those little interviews where the other person treats it like they’re a real celebrity, answering questions about themselves? At least three of them didn’t ask me anything back, just talked about themselves for like five minutes straight.” Taehyung looks amused at the memory. “That’s why I said you didn’t seem selfish, by the way. I know what selfish looks like.”

He meets Yoongi’s eyes, holding their eye contact, and Yoongi looks right back at him for a few slow seconds. “If I was you, I wouldn’t be able to stop myself from doing data analysis,” Yoongi says finally, breaking the gaze to set the kettle back down on the counter. “I bet you could find some real patterns of human behavior. I’m itching to know if those guys were better or worse in bed.”

Taehyung shrugs. “Eh. Results inconclusive. I’d love it if they were worse, as a trend, but unfortunately some of them were pretty good.”

“Disappointing,” Yoongi comments, giving Taehyung a small grin as he hands him a mug of tea. “I was hoping for some kind of karma, you know.”

Taehyung looks like he’s thinking again. “Some of them definitely had pretty small dicks, I think, from memory.”

Yoongi looks at him, nodding. “Now that’s interesting.”

They settle onto the couch eventually, conversation flowing maybe too easily for people who don’t know each other very well, Taehyung’s hair dries in wavy curls. When the rain doesn’t stop in an hour the way it was supposed to, Yoongi orders delivery.

They eat quietly, compared to the last couple hours of their voices filling Yoongi’s apartment; when they divide up their portions, Taehyung slides his container of radish kimchi over to Yoongi.

Yoongi blinks at him. “You don’t like it?”

“I like it the least,” Taehyung says with a shrug.

“I like it the most,” Yoongi tells him.

Taehyung smiles at him, eyes bright and smile satisfied, like he’s holding onto a secret. Yoongi feels the surprising urge to kiss it out of him. He ignores it. “Works out then,” Taehyung tells him, aiming another little look at Yoongi before he brings a dumpling to his mouth.

Before this afternoon, Yoongi felt like his attraction to Taehyung was slightly unwarranted. Just slightly — Taehyung, as he’s well aware, is preternaturally handsome and upsettingly charming. But that kind of thing usually fades for Yoongi. Usually, he felt lukewarm about boys like Taehyung by the morning, gets tired of the way they angle for attention, or their sensitive egos.

The fact that he’s sitting here with Taehyung at all is an anomaly. It’s even less common for him to find himself staring at someone like this, curious, unembarrassed, as they stare back.

It’s warranted, he’ll give himself that now, at least. He’s pretty, quick-witted with a slow voice, but there’s something about him that sticks in Yoongi’s teeth, that keeps his attention.

“I should have told you this earlier,” Taehyung starts, shaking Yoongi out of his thoughts, out of the quiet way he was watching Taehyung eat. It should maybe be weird, but it isn’t. He likes that, he thinks.

“Hm?” Yoongi asks, turning his attention to his own food.

“I’m going out of town soon.” The words, casual, don’t really match the way he’s avoiding Yoongi’s eye now. Yoongi’s eyebrows furrow.

“Oh? Where to?” Yoongi asks.

“New York City.” Taehyung looks back up at him, and Yoongi nods, not catching on to why Taehyung looks so uncharacteristically serious. But then Taehyung says, “I’m...moving there, I guess.”

Well. That makes more sense. Yoongi swallows, nodding again, slower.

“Oh,” Yoongi repeats. There’s...a strange little pang of loss, then. What timing, he thinks, to interrupt Yoongi’s thoughts about how maybe he’d like to do this again sometime. “When are you leaving?”

Taehyung looks at him with an apologetic smile. “Monday,” he answers.

“Monday in three days?” Yoongi asks, eyebrows raised.

“That’s the one,” Taehyung replies with a laugh that doesn’t meet his eyes.

For the third time, Yoongi says, “Oh.”

“Sorry, for not mentioning sooner. I didn’t, ah...I don’t know.” Taehyung crinkles his nose, makes a face at himself, like he’s trying to pick the right words. Yoongi shakes his head.

“No, I get it,” he says. Maybe neither of them expected themselves to like this so much. “There’s nothing to be sorry for. Thanks for telling me.”

Taehyung nods at him, less confidence and more gentleness. A sort of thank you. Yoongi’s familiar with that kind of gesture, the kind where you hope someone will see the words behind it without you needing to say them.

“That’s a big move,” he says, feeling silly as he says it, like he’s only talking to fill up the space in the room. It’s the sort of thing his father would say, he thinks with an internal grimace.

“Tell me about it,” Taehyung says with a smile, more composed than his not-quite-happy laugh was. Yoongi looks him over, an invitation to say more, but Taehyung doesn’t take it. Instead, he says, “Listen, this is...I don’t know, weird maybe, but my friends are throwing me a going away party tomorrow.”

“Are you…inviting me?” Yoongi asks, raising his eyebrows in surprise again. Taehyung keeps surprising him.

“I don’t know, are you freaked out by that kind of thing?” Taehyung asks him, the seriousness evaporating from his face again. He looks more comfortable like that, Yoongi notices. When he’s being a little shit.

“I would actually say I’ve never been freaked out in my life,” Yoongi replies calmly. “Especially not by the parties of boys I barely know.”

“Oh, come on. Barely?” Taehyung asks, leaning forward toward him with the smirk reignited on his lips.

“Barely,” Yoongi insists. He’s more comfortable too, in this easy push and pull of not quite flirting but not quite not flirting. “Basically a stranger.”

Taehyung hums, smiling down at his bowl. “You must be lonesome, then, to pull any old stranger in off the street and give them the clothes off your back.”

“No, just very generous,” Yoongi tells him. “It’s out of generosity that I’ll go to this party of yours, too. I’m so giving.”

“You are, Min Yoongi,” Taehyung says lightly. His voice is still joking, playing along, but his eyes are too honest as they look him over. “What a kind benefactor.”

“You really want me there, with your friends?” Yoongi asks him, dropping the act for a moment. It seems like a lot, but Yoongi guesses that most things Taehyung has done in his presence have been kind of a lot. Maybe it’s just how he is.

Taehyung is still looking at him, down to his hands then up at his face again. “Yes,” he says simply, lifting another dumpling to his mouth and letting it puff his cheeks out.

“Sure, then.”

Taehyung smiles, a genuine one, and Yoongi likes the way he tries to bite down on it, like he wants to keep it to himself.

It’s a shame, he thinks, to lose a smile like that to a different side of the globe. It’s a shame. Yoongi eats a bite of the radish kimchi, and tries not to think too hard about any of it.

++

“Hypothetically,” Yoongi starts his sentence, looking at himself in the mirror as he holds his phone up to his ear, “what do you think it would mean, if someone you slept with two days ago invited you to their going away party before they leave the country?”

“I would say that it means you’ve had an interesting hypothetical week, hyung,” Hoseok replies easily on the other end.

Yoongi sighs. “Yeah. Well, I knew that.”

Hoseok laughs. Yoongi brought this up to lighten the mood a little; they’ve been at Hoseok’s family’s home today, and Namjoon’s family’s home after that. He’s tired from juggling so much, and called Yoongi to complain. He figured the act of prying for gossip would cheer Hoseok up, and he already thinks he was right.

“I went out on Thursday night,” Yoongi starts the story, wondering how much of this to gloss over, how much is unnecessary detail. “Went home with this guy. And then we got dinner last night.”

Hoseok gives him a little ooh on the other end of the phone, and Yoongi watches his cheeks go pink in his reflection. “He’s moving to America on Monday,” Yoongi goes on, voice flat, and he can practically hear Hoseok’s pout on the other end of the line at ruining his fun.

“Well,” Hoseok says, voice stretching out the word. “It could mean a lot of things. For one, it could mean he has like, no friends.”

It seems hard to believe for Yoongi, he admits. “Probably not that.”

“I could list more options, but you’re asking me about it, so you’re probably going. And in that case, he’s probably not a total weirdo, and you probably want it to mean he likes you.”

Yoongi pauses, makes a face as if Hoseok can see him. “You’ve been spending too much time with Namjoon.”

Hoseok laughs at him. “Why, because I know you? Suck it up, hyung, consider yourself deeply known.”

“I don’t know if I want it to mean that,” Yoongi tells him. He crosses his free arm in front of him, looking down at the rips in the knees of his jeans. “But I think it might mean that.”

“It’s rough,” Hoseok comments gently. “That he’s leaving.”

“Yeah,” Yoongi replies with a sigh. “I mean it’s...I hardly know him. It’s not some big loss. But, I don’t know. If he was staying…” He trails off, not really feeling like putting thoughts to words for the end of that sentence. No use speaking it into existence, it’ll only make the thought harder to shake once Taehyung is gone.

“You don’t have to go, you know,” Hoseok tells him. “I know you know that, but.”

“I don’t know, I guess I want to.” Yoongi doesn’t know how to say there’s something about him that makes it hard to look away. It would make it all easier to brush past, probably, if he decided that last night was the last time he needed to see Taehyung, for the sake of not getting too attached to something so temporary. But there’s something just slightly addicting about the tension between them when they speak, like the way you crave salty food. He’s itching for another bite.

“I hope you have a good time,” Hoseok says. “Be hot and difficult to forget, I bet it’ll feel good.”

Yoongi laughs at that. “Sure,” he agrees. “I’ll see you tomorrow. Noon, right?”

“Yep,” Hoseok chirps. “Don’t show up hungover, or I’ll have her show you all her toys that sing.”

“Harsh, but fair.”

Yoongi glances between the two shirts on hangers in front of his mirror, laid out for him to choose from. He grabs the oversized gray flannel, puts it on over his oversized black t-shirt; this is a casual thing, Taehyung told him. Just a few friends at a bar. But still, he feels...emotionally underdressed.

It doesn’t help, he thinks to himself as he strides down the alley toward the little bar in Itaewon an hour later, that he’s made himself late by accident. He’s a little embarrassed at it, slinking in the door to the bar and looking around for Taehyung. But when Taehyung catches his eye and waves over at him loosely, beckoning him over to the sofa by the front windows, he doesn’t look like he minds.

“Sorry I’m late,” Yoongi says to Taehyung, looking over at the other two people gathered on the sofa across the coffee table from Taehyung and bowing his head politely at each of them in turn.

“Oh, don’t worry about it. You made it ahead of my best friend, so no hard feelings,” Taehyung says with an easy smile.

“Yah,” one of the people sitting across from him says. “Can you at least pretend we’re your best friends too, when Jimin’s not even here?” He’s looking at Taehyung with an exaggerated disgusted grimace that goes against the smooth prettiness of his features, Yoongi thinks.

“Don’t make him lie to you,” the other man says. “It’s sad, hyung.” The first man has a sort of clean, neat handsomeness about him, but the second, with spikes on the shoulders of his jacket, is someone who must like looking rough around the edges. He has a sweet face, younger looking, shoulder-length dyed-blue hair with dark roots growing in above, bangs almost covering an eyebrow piercing. His contrast to the man next to him in a clean button-down shirt and cardigan draped over his broad shoulders is striking, and fun, Yoongi thinks.

“Both of you stop,” Taehyung whines. “Stop being dramatic. Of course you’re my best friends.” He pouts at them briefly, and then maybe when he feels like his point has been made, he gestures over to Yoongi. “This is Min Yoongi.” He looks at Yoongi then, gestures to an empty spot on the couch he’s sitting on, and Yoongi takes his cue and sits down, a comfortable distance between them. Taehyung sweeps his other arm toward the two men across the table. “This is Kim Seokjin and Jeon Jungkook.”

They lift their respective hands in waves as Taehyung says their names, first Seokjin, then Jungkook, his hand covered in tattoos.

“Good to meet you, mystery stranger. Taehyung loves to make choices, doesn’t he?” Seokjin says, voice pleasant.

“Seems to, yeah,” Yoongi agrees. Inviting him was certainly a choice, Seokjin isn’t wrong.

“He has good taste in people, though,” Jungkook offers. “Well. Usually.”

“You guys are embarrassing me,” Taehyung complains. He’s different with his friends, more relaxed, and it’s kind of funny to see. He opens his mouth again, likely to complain more, but he’s cut off by a voice getting louder as another man darts haphazardly from the door over to their table.

“Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry!” The man is repeating, dodging other patrons of the bar to dash over directly to Taehyung. ”I tried so hard to be on time, but my train got stuck!” He drops into Taehyung’s arms, hugging around him tightly and knocking him back a little from the force. When he pulls back, he bends to press a kiss to Taehyung’s temple before stepping back and looking around.

When he sees Yoongi, he pauses, seeming vaguely embarrassed. “Oh, hi,” he offers. “You’re Yoongi. Hi. I’m Park Jimin.” His hair swoops neatly on either side of his forehead, his face a little round but delicately handsome. He’s in a yellow sweater that’s a little big on him, and it gives him an air of cuteness.

“Hi, Park Jimin,” Yoongi replies with a nod and a polite smile. Jimin looks him over for a beat, then glances back at Taehyung with a decidedly unsubtle eyebrow raise.

“I’m going to go get drinks. It’s my usual penance for showing up late. What are you drinking, Yoongi-ssi?”

“Whiskey.”

Jimin glances back at Taehyung again, making a teasing little face, and Yoongi feels himself flush at being treated like something that’s being shown off. But Taehyung doesn’t say anything. Just moves down the couch, closer to Yoongi on the other end, leaving an empty spot for Jimin.

If Yoongi was slightly confused about Taehyung before this, about his specific brew of personality and mannerisms, he certainly feels much more clear about it all after an hour with Taehyung’s friends.

They’re funny and weird, silliness interspersed with an easy teasing banter that feels more comfortable than it maybe should, Yoongi thinks. Yoongi steps away to the restroom for a moment, and when he comes back, he hears Jungkook say, “I just don’t think anyone should get a tattoo on their cock unless it’s funny. No cock tattoo should ever demand to be taken seriously.”

Yoongi blinks, standing in front of the table looking between the three of them.

“He’s a tattoo artist,” Taehyung aims at Yoongi when he notices, and Yoongi supposes gives some context to the conversation, but it’s still a little intellectually challenging to walk into blind.

“Jungkook-ah,” Seokjin says, voice serious, and Jungkook looks like he already hates whatever is about to happen before it even happens. “Be honest with me. Would you tattoo the words “demands to be taken seriously” on my dick?”

No,” Jungkook answers forcefully while Jimin cackles, falling back against Taehyung’s shoulder.

“Not even a moment of artistic contemplation?” Seokjin asks, looking Jungkook up and down judgmentally.

“You know that stupid thing people say about tattoos, that bumper sticker on a Lamborghini thing?” Jungkook starts, taking a sip of his own drink. “That’s stupid, that concept. Like, this is my dumb body, and I’ll put as many bumper stickers on it as I want. But I do feel like that about your dick.”

“We cannot go one night without you talking about Seokjin’s dick,” Taehyung complains.

“He incites it!” Jungkook defends himself.

“You’re saying that you value my dick too much to cheapen it with a crude joke?” Seokjin asks.

Jungkook makes a face, annoyed and incredulous at Seokjin. “I guess, yeah.”

“What a coward,” Seokjin levels at him seriously, and Yoongi finally loses it at the sheer absurdity. “A true artist would follow the spirit of his muse.”

“For the last time, hyung, you are not my muse. You’re my boyfriend.”

And ah, okay, that clarifies things a little, where the relationship lines lay between Jungkook, Seokjin, and Jimin; Yoongi was having a difficult time separating them out for the last hour.

“Well, I should be your muse,” Seokjin replies, voice haughty. “You’re losing out.”

“You’re losing your mind,” Jungkook says back easily.

“Does anyone want drinks?” Yoongi asks, breaking his quiet laughter in front of the table. “I’m up.” There’s a quick chorus of requests chirped back at him in reaction, and Yoongi nods.

“I’ll help,” Jimin offers with a pretty smile, scooting up off of the couch to stand next to him. Yoongi nods, feeling only slightly like he’s created a trap for himself, and walks off to the bar with Jimin.

The bar is busy, a Saturday night in a young area, and they stand against the bar waiting for the bartender’s attention. Yoongi, suddenly a little awkward, looks around the bar curiously until Jimin’s voice interrupts him, calls his attention over.

“I’ve heard a lot about you, Yoongi-ssi,” Jimin says to him, hip leaned against the bar, turned to Yoongi with a lazy sort of posture. He’s a sight, if Yoongi’s being honest, and he wonders momentarily how Taehyung’s life seems to be a little roulette wheel full of absurdly pretty people.

“Terrifying,” Yoongi replies, a smirk twitching against the corners of his mouth. Jimin lets out an easy little laugh, and Yoongi is weirdly intimidated by him for a moment. He and Taehyung both have this strange radiating self-assuredness, but he’s seen enough of the rest of Taehyung to know that it’s balanced by an endearing, sometimes clumsy bluntness. Yoongi hasn’t quite seen that from Jimin yet, just his sharp edges.

“Oh, don’t worry, he didn’t let me listen to your tape,” Jimin says, a smirk spreading across his face, probably at the way Yoongi can feel himself get flustered.

“I wasn’t worried about that until you mentioned it,” Yoongi says, voice awkward.

“He usually does,” Jimin goes on. “But he’s kept yours to himself.”

Now Yoongi’s blushing, and he’s not even sure why.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to start teasing you,” Jimin says, his smirk turning sweeter, letting out a quiet laugh and dropping his poised posture, shoulders slouching a little. “You look like you’re really suffering over there.”

Yoongi lets out an exhale at Jimin’s shift in persona, huffs a little to himself, and Jimin giggles at him again.

“I see why he likes you. You’re easy to rile up,” Jimin tells him, looking amused at himself.

“Oh, that’s what does it for him, huh?” Yoongi asks dryly, raising his eyebrows. “Someone he can argue with?”

“Only if they’re the kind of person who will also let him win,” Jimin says, still grinning over at Yoongi.

The bartender stops in front of them finally, and Jimin turns to them and repeats everyone’s drink requests, turning to Yoongi to confirm his.

“Whiskey neat,” Yoongi says, and Jimin nods at him with another little smirk as the bartender moves to gather the drinks. They’re quiet for a moment then, and Yoongi takes the minute to watch the other bar patrons. He doesn’t go to a lot of places like this anymore, loud and crowded and carefully aesthetically designed.

When the bartender returns with their five drinks, Jimin picks up his soju to sip from. Yoongi follows suit, and they eye each other over in a weird competitive way, like they’re trying to size each other up.

“Don’t take this the wrong way,” Yoongi starts, and Jimin raises his eyebrows, anticipatory, “But shouldn’t you all be a little more broken up about him leaving?”

Jimin doesn’t look offended, which Yoongi is glad for. “The thing is, Taehyung hates goodbyes,” he says, taking another sip of his drink. “He asked us for a regular night out, so we’re giving him one. Besides,” he leans closer to Yoongi, “between you and me, he won’t be gone forever.”

It’s Yoongi’s turn to look surprised then, looking at Jimin for more explanation for that. “I don’t mean that as — I don’t know, doubt in him, or anything. It’s just that he likes to wander, try things out. He moved south to the countryside a couple years ago. Stayed for almost a year, worked on a farm, showed up back in Seoul before too long.” Jimin shrugs. “So far, he’s always come back, sooner or later.”

“Has he ever gone this far?” Yoongi asks, looking Jimin over for his reaction. He sees something considering in Jimin’s expression.

“No,” Jimin says. “I’m a little nervous for him, but...well, Taehyung always manages to work things out. I know he seems flighty sometimes, but he’s smart.”

Yoongi hums. That seems true. Taehyung is sort of unflappable, from what Yoongi can tell.

“I’m surprised he invited you,” Jimin tells him, voice quiet now. Yoongi glances at the soju in his hands, wonders if Jimin would normally be this forthcoming. “He doesn’t get attached easily.”

“Hm,” Yoongi mutters, mostly to himself. Me either, he doesn’t say. He glances over at Taehyung, leaned forward on the couch toward Jungkook, speaking animatedly and laughing big.

“Ah,” Jimin says, then laughs quietly. Yoongi glances at him, the way he looks a little embarrassed. “I’m sentimental tonight. Sorry, I’m oversharing.”

Yoongi shakes his head, waves him off, and Jimin rubs at the back of his neck for a moment with his free hand before he says, “Come on. Let’s bring them drinks.”

They grab the beers that Jungkook and Seokjin requested, and Yoongi grabs Taehyung’s strawberry soju with his other hand.

Despite the strangeness of the situation, Yoongi isn’t having a terrible time. Taehyung’s friends are easy to spend time with, especially because they have such an easy rapport with each other that Yoongi rarely feels out of place. It’s easy to spectate, chime in when he wants to, looking between them from his spot on the sofa next to Taehyung.

At some point, Jungkook and Seokjin have gone off to the corner of the bar that houses a couple pinball machines and a dart board, arguing as they walked off about which of them was better at darts, and Jimin’s walked back to the bar, leaving just him and Taehyung sitting there.

“So,” Taehyung says to him, posture loose from the few drinks he’s sipped over the last couple hours. “Do you regret coming?”

Yoongi raises his eyebrows at Taehyung a little. “No,” he answers simply.

Taehyung nods, looks like he’s trying to keep a pleased little smile off of his face. He looks away, pressing his lips together with something happy trying to bloom in his expression, and Yoongi is so goddamn endeared. More fond than he has any right to be over a man he’s known for three days.

“Hyung,” Taehyung says after a moment, turning back to him with big pretty eyes.

“Yeah?” Yoongi asks. The whiskey in his system tells him to look right back, hold Taehyung’s eye contact instead of pretending like he doesn’t want to.

“Would you sneak out with me?” Taehyung asks.

Taehyung doesn’t like goodbyes, Jimin said to him. This must be his plan, then, to avoid them. “Your friends won’t mind?” Yoongi asks, mostly to clear his own conscience over it; his own friends would kill him if he skipped out on his own goodbye party.

Taehyung shakes his head. “They know how I am,” he says with a soft laugh. “And I’ll be talking to them very soon.”

Yoongi nods. “Where are we going, then?”

Taehyung hums, rests his chin in his hand for a moment. “If I go back to my apartment, I’ll just feel guilty for not packing.”

“Come to mine, then,” Yoongi tells him, feeling a twinge of doubt as he says it. Is this stupid? Almost definitely. Is he going to do it anyway? Without a doubt. There’s something about the looming expiration date on this, on the two of them, that makes it hard to deny his impulses. Not to mention there’s something about Taehyung himself that makes it even harder.

Yoongi expects Taehyung to make a joke out of it, like he did yesterday, but Taehyung just nods at him with a little grin, grabbing Yoongi’s hand and muttering, “Come on then, let’s sneak.”

It’s silly, the careful little dart they do out of the bar, the theatrics of it, but Yoongi lets Taehyung pull him, and when they walk outside and Taehyung slips their fingers together properly, Yoongi squeezes Taehyung’s hand back. They stay like that on their walk through the crowded, neon-lit sidewalk toward the metro station, and they stay like that on the train too. They’re quiet most of the way, and Taehyung keeps playing with Yoongi’s fingertips in a way that makes him feel embarrassingly warm.

“I liked your friends,” Yoongi says as they stand next to each other on a fairly crowded train car.

“Me too,” Taehyung tells him with a grin. “I’m glad they didn’t try to embarrass you too much.”

“No,” Yoongi argues, shaking his head, only bluffing a little. “It didn’t even work when they tried to. You can tell them their efforts failed.”

Taehyung laughs quietly. “Jimin will be gutted.”

Yoongi wonders if Taehyung knows that they think he’ll be back, that this move is ultimately temporary. He believes Jimin that it’s not a lack of confidence in Taehyung, but it still seems like the kind of thing you maybe keep to yourself while you watch him leave. But then, he tells himself, it’s not like he knows what Taehyung’s plans in New York are, how permanent they are. He’s getting ahead of himself, all of this psychoanalysis like he knows Taehyung. He swallows, looking away from Taehyung for a moment, feeling slightly too aware of the tangle of their fingers at their side.

It’s a little too familiar already, walking from the station to his apartment with Taehyung, the same routine they went through the day before. This time though, they’re not clutching onto cheap umbrellas, spitting rain out of their faces. Their pace is leisurely tonight.

“Do you want any wine?” Yoongi asks Taehyung when they walk through the door to his apartment. The alcohol has mostly left his system, and it’s not that he needs to replace it, but he’d like something to do with his hands, at least.

“I’m not a good wine drinker,” Taehyung answers, shuffling his shoes off. “Pour me a glass, though, I like to pretend.”

Yoongi makes a noise of agreement, walks through his entryway toward his kitchen and grabs one of the few wine bottles sitting on a small table he uses as a makeshift bar in the corner of the room.

“Wine and whiskey,” Taehyung comments from the doorway, crossing his arms against his chest. “You’re so romantic, hyung.”

Yoongi laughs and shakes his head. “That’s a lot of pressure to put on something as small as my drink choices.” He twists the corkscrew into the neck of the wine bottle, and he can feel Taehyung watching him.

“Do you work out?” Taehyung asks him, and Yoongi sputters a laugh.

“Stop flirting with me,” he complains half-heartedly, but he can feel his cheeks go warm.

“I’m not!” Taehyung says, but when Yoongi glances up at him, he’s biting down on a smile. “You just have a very strong grip.”

“Thanks,” Yoongi says dryly, pouring the wine into two glasses. “I do work out, for your information.”

Taehyung hums, takes the offered glass. “I could never get into exercise. I get too bored.”

“I know what you mean. I only keep up with it because I go with my friend, he’s a real…” Yoongi wiggles his hand, “Responsible type.”

“I’ve never attracted very many responsible friends. I bet they’re a much better influence on your life than friends with tattoo guns.”

Yoongi laughs. “Is Jungkook the one who gave you that tattoo?”

“The one and only artist, yes,” Taehyung says, faux-bragging. “I still think it’s cute.”

“It suits you,” Yoongi admits. He thinks of the little strawberry on Taehyung’s hip, the way it’s small and sweet, pretty. He looks at Taehyung’s hand around the wine glass, then up to Taehyung’s face, and finds him looking right back.

They look at each other for a moment, quietly, and it feels entirely more intimate than it should, Yoongi thinks.

“Hyung,” Taehyung starts, breaking their silence. “I want to hear your music.”

The idea of it makes Yoongi pause; it feels slightly too personal. But then, Taehyung’s eyelashes are so pretty and he’s moving to another country at the end of the weekend. Hasn’t this all been too personal? What’s stopping him now?

“Okay,” Yoongi answers. He drinks the rest of the wine he poured into his glass and sets it down on his counter, and Taehyung tries to do the same, but after a big gulp he pulls back from the glass of wine with a displeased expression. Yoongi laughs — it’s cute, the way he looks like a kid who just tried coffee for the first time.

“Stop,” Taehyung complains, pouting a little at him.

“No,” Yoongi responds easily. “You’re cute.”

At that, Taehyung’s expression changes, going almost bashful, which unfortunately for Yoongi is also cute.

“Come on,” Yoongi says instead of flattering Taehyung more. “I’ll play you something.”

It’s a vulnerable feeling, Yoongi admits, sitting in front of his computer with Taehyung resting lightly on the back of his chair behind him, looking over his shoulder. It feels only a little more comfortable than leafing through your diary with a spectator.

“Here,” he says, picking a song from his folder of more complete works in progress. It’s always hard for him to call anything finished, but at least these he likes well enough the way they are. He put most of this one together last year, a slightly melancholy song over a beat that feels floaty to him, the lyrics musing about getting older.

He presses play, and tries to just listen to the song instead of thinking about having an audience. Behind him, he feels Taehyung lean his chin on the top of Yoongi’s chair. After the first chorus, Taehyung says, “This is so good, hyung,” voice soft, and Yoongi feels something in him loosen, a tension in his shoulders that he didn’t realize he was holding.

“Thanks,” he murmurs back, gripping the arm of his desk chair.

“Do you put your music online anywhere?” Taehyung asks, sounding curious.

“I had some online when I was younger, but I haven’t in a long time,” Yoongi says, letting out a soft laugh. “I’ve gotten to be too much of a perfectionist, I think.”

Taehyung makes a disappointed noise. “Oh, I wanted to listen to more. You should.”

Yoongi hums noncommittally. The song plays, verse by verse, until it fades out. Yoongi thinks he still likes it, actually, which is kind of rare. After it ends, though, he can’t bear being the center of attention anymore, and he closes the software.

“You’re good, hyung,” Taehyung tells him again. Yoongi feels his weight move from the back of his chair, and then he hears Taehyung plop down to sit on Yoongi’s bed.

“Thanks,” Yoongi says, turning around in his chair to face Taehyung. He looks good, the same way he has all night. “You know, I haven’t asked. What’s in New York for you?” Maybe he’s trying to stop them talking about him or his music anymore, or maybe he’s trying to distract himself from Taehyung’s relaxed posture on his bed, from the cut of his jaw and the red wine stain on his lips.

“I have a friend there. She has ins with all these galleries, told me she might be able to get me some shows. I want to see where it goes, I guess.” Taehyung shrugs, and Yoongi feels a familiar sort of…surprise, at Taehyung. At the way he can shrug off something like a move to a foreign country, seemingly unconcerned. It’s disconcertingly unfamiliar to him; Yoongi has always been a person who thinks things through to the point of obsession, plans his actions carefully.

“Didn’t you ask me if I was fearless?” Yoongi asks him with a quiet laugh.

A smile flickers on Taehyung’s expression. “I’m not fearless, hyung. I’m just a little restless too.” He tips his head back slightly, just enough that his eyes are half-lidded in Yoongi’s direction, and god he’s attractive. His lips are red, his shirt unbuttoned enough to make Yoongi keep looking at his chest. Yoongi looks him over carefully, without any shame, because he can tell Taehyung wants him to. The air is quiet between them, still.

“You’re supposed to ask if you can help with that,” Taehyung tells him after a moment.

“Supposed to?” Yoongi asks with a huff of a laugh. “Maybe I’m supposed to make better decisions than that.”

“You think there’s a better decision than fucking me again?” Taehyung asks him, voice teasing.

“Logically, yeah,” Yoongi says, looking Taehyung over again. His legs are spread, posture casual. “A bunch of them, probably.”

Taehyung raises his eyebrows, shrugs again. Yoongi can’t look away from him.

It’s a bad idea, he tries to tell himself. He’s leaving in two days. He’s already in too deep here. He should tell Taehyung to leave, say goodbye even though Taehyung doesn’t like them. He should try to move on from this as quick as he can, not let it take up any more space in his head.

The trouble is, he wants this. And it feels good to want something, even if it’s something he shouldn’t.

Yoongi stands from his desk chair, and Taehyung watches him. Yoongi can feels his eyes on him as he takes a few steps toward the bed, sitting down on the edge next to Taehyung.

“Are you considering making a bad decision?” Taehyung asks him. He sounds like he’s teasing still, and Yoongi wishes it didn’t light a fire somewhere in him, the challenge in his voice.

“I think I can afford one every once in a while,” Yoongi replies, turning his head to look at Taehyung up close. It’s worse, of course. Even harder to look away from the dark of his eyes and the wet of his lips. His stupid eyelashes.

“I’m thrilled to hear it,” Taehyung says, a smirk curling on his expression, and Yoongi can’t kiss it away fast enough.

It’s nothing like the first time they did this, when they had the rush of something new, the flash of club lights still coursing in their systems. The exciting feeling of flirting with a stranger. No, it’s slower now, much more deliberate. And better, Yoongi thinks.

Taehyung tastes like strawberry soju and wine, smells like his cologne and Yoongi’s bedsheets, feels alive and solid and warm in a way Yoongi can’t convince himself not to curl into. So he ends up in Taehyung’s lap, Taehyung’s hands under his t-shirt, his own hands working to unbutton Taehyung’s shirt. Taehyung brings one hand up to brush Yoongi’s hair out of his eyes, and then he lets it rest on Yoongi’s cheek, cupping his face, and Yoongi pulls back to look at him.

They don’t say anything, just look at each other for a moment, and it feels intimate. Bare. He lets the moment hang. There’s things they’re not saying, Yoongi thinks, and he can hear them.

They don’t say I like you; they don’t say this feels too good. Instead, Taehyung says, “Would you fuck me?” and Yoongi says, “Yeah,” barely a breath, and they’re kissing again. Taehyung falls back against the bed and Yoongi follows him, a magnetic pull.

Last time, Yoongi was caught up in the heat of it, in the desire to get off with someone new and hot, and not much else. This time he notices little things. Taehyung has tan lines on his shoulders, on his thighs where the hem of his shorts must have rested throughout the summer, proof of the sun on his skin. He has freckles dotted haphazardly across his torso and his shoulders. He has big hands that feel bigger when they’re on Yoongi, like his touch covers just slightly too much of him. He gets a look on his face when Yoongi presses his legs open like he’s trying to bite down on a smile, and it hits Yoongi with an impact, piercing like an arrow, and he thinks that’s unfair, really.

I like you, Yoongi keeps not saying. More than he should. More than he can remember liking anyone new in a while, though it’s not like there’s much competition; it’s been nearly a year since he dated anyone in even the loosest definition of the word, since he slept with the same person more than once. Maybe this is what it felt like then too. (It’s not, though, is it?)

Taehyung wraps an arm around the back of Yoongi’s neck as he presses into Taehyung, pulling their faces tight together. It’s almost overwhelming, the heat of their breath and the soft groans Taehyung’s making, the pleasantly dazed look in his eyes. Yoongi’s hips move slowly, not wanting to interrupt the heavy air between them. Taehyung feels good, looks good too, lips parted, eyes half-lidded, closing when he seems particularly overwhelmed by Yoongi inside him. His hair is fanned back against Yoongi’s pillows, and he looks undone in such a particular, soft way. So romantically disheveled, all flushed skin and pink lips and dark eyes. He’s pretty like this, and that’s something Yoongi didn’t really need to know.

“Hyung,” Taehyung murmurs after a few slow moments, voice low. Yoongi nods minutely, encouraging him to go on. “Harder.”

Yoongi’s eyes snap to Taehyung’s at that, and Taehyung’s looking back at him, expression overwhelmed and hard to read. He brings a hand away from where it’s stabilizing him on the bed, brings it to grip at the underside of Taehyung’s thigh instead, push his leg back a little further, giving Yoongi a little more room for purchase. He thrusts in deeper and Taehyung lets out a shuddering little groan. The kind of noise Yoongi is hungry for right now, so eager to hear and keep and save, in a weird little lockbox corner of his chest. Yoongi’s hand grips into the meat of Taehyung’s thigh, and he likes the feeling of it.

Taehyung keeps making these little sounds, choked-off and desperate-sounding, and Yoongi can’t help but quicken his pace, losing any sense of self-restraint when Taehyung whimpers close to his ear, a hand clutching into Yoongi’s hair. They’re both falling apart fast when Taehyung uses his free hand to touch himself, and Yoongi thinks the image of that, of Taehyung below him, biting his lip and looking up at Yoongi while he strokes himself, will be burned into his brain for a little while.

When Taehyung comes, he buries his face in the crook of Yoongi’s neck, panting against his skin as Yoongi thrusts into him again, just a little more — and then Yoongi comes too, with a heavy exhale and a slump in his posture, leaning on Taehyung.

He pulls out with a gasp, rolling over to lie next to Taehyung on the bed, breathing heavy.

“I think it was a good decision,” Taehyung offers, voice slow and deep.

Yoongi hums in assent. He thinks about the look in Taehyung’s eyes before he came, pretty and honest and, at the risk of being melodramatic, haunting him already. He feels the urge to sigh, but he restrains himself.

“C’mon,” he murmurs, pulling himself up from the bed. “Clean up.”

Taehyung lets out a put-upon sigh, but he follows Yoongi in prying himself off of the mattress. They look at each other for a moment after they both scoot to the edge of the bed, side by side, and Yoongi has the urge to kiss him. It feels maybe like crossing a boundary, but he catches Taehyung look at his lips too, and he’s comforted that at least it’s mutual. Yoongi breaks the moment, standing up, and gestures for Taehyung to follow him.

They wipe away the lingering proof of how messy these things are, passing a wet towel between each other in the bathroom. Yoongi washes his face, gets the sweat off of his brow, some of the residual heat from his cheeks. Taehyung follows suit, and then they look at each other, cheeks scrubbed-clean pink, still damp.

“Are you tired?” Taehyung asks him.

“No,” Yoongi answers easily. There’s too much adrenaline in his system; this whole night has felt like standing at the edge of a rooftop, staring down at all the ways he could fall.

Taehyung hums. “I should be. I haven’t been sleeping well lately. It’s just that…I’m kind of hoping to put tomorrow off a little more.” He gives a sheepish kind of smile, naked in Yoongi’s bathroom, and Yoongi still isn’t used to Taehyung’s penchant for easy honesty.

“What’s tomorrow?” Yoongi asks. He pats his face with a clean towel, mostly just to have something to do with his hands, because his face is plenty dry.

“The day before I leave,” Taehyung responds with a slight shrug. “I still haven’t finished packing.”

Yoongi looks him over with raised eyebrows, lets out a soft laugh. “You are…something else.”

Taehyung’s eyebrows raise minutely, but his expression goes neutral again. “Is that judgment?”

“No,” Yoongi says. “Not really. It’s just that I think we’re different.”

Taehyung looks him over, considering. “I guess so.” He walks back out of the bathroom, toward Yoongi’s bedroom, and Yoongi follows him after a moment, putting his towel back on the rack.

Taehyung is pulling on his underwear when Yoongi walks back into his bedroom, the top of his tattoo showing just above the waistband. Without saying anything, Yoongi tosses him the sweatshirt that he borrowed from Yoongi’s dresser yesterday. He hasn’t had a chance to wash it yet, and it seems more comfortable than the button-up shirt Taehyung wore here.

Taehyung takes it, pulls it on easily, and Yoongi tries not to watch the long line of his body as he grabs his own underwear to pull on. It’s an interesting juxtaposition from yesterday. Yesterday they pulled on dry clothes and sat down over dinner, tension in the air between them whether they wanted it to be or not; today they’re recovering from finally giving in again, to the electric, magnetic way they’re drawn together. They wear comfortable clothes and their hair is still mussed and they both smell like Yoongi’s soap, and Yoongi’s still thinking about kissing him.

“Let’s sit on the balcony,” Yoongi says.

“Would you make me tea again?” Taehyung asks, and Yoongi nods. Neither of them mention the idea of Taehyung leaving.

It’s late, dark and cooler now, but the air is still warm and humid, even this late in August. They sit in the two chairs Yoongi has in front of the open doors of his balcony, mugs of tea sitting on a small table between them. There’s the reflection of city lights in Taehyung’s eyes, and he’s too busy looking at that to notice that Taheyung is turning to him, catching him in his staring.

“You think I’m crazy for leaving,” Taehyung says to him. Not a question, a statement, and it makes Yoongi blink in surprise.

“I don’t think you’re crazy,” Yoongi argues. Taehyung raises his eyebrows, like he’s waiting for a but. “I don’t know you well enough to think you’re crazy. I just can’t imagine it.”

Taehyung hums, looking back out at the city.

“I do think you’re crazy for not being packed,” Yoongi tells him. Taehyung turns to him with a seemingly good-natured roll of his eyes.

“I’ll get packed. I don’t have too much left. I just…don’t want to see my room all empty, really.”

“Jimin told me that you’ve left before.”

“Sure. I guess I have,” he says, voice neutral. He reaches for his mug of tea, takes a quiet sip. “I should be used to it, is that what you mean?”

“Aren’t you?” Yoongi asks, curious.

“Just because you want a change doesn’t mean it’s comfortable, the act of actually changing,” Taehyung says to him, looking him over again. Yoongi wonders what he’s looking for.

“That’s fair, I guess,” Yoongi replies with a shrug.

They’re quiet again for a moment. Stories below, two people on the street are laughing loudly, their conversation traveling up on the wind and echoing around, words distorted.

“You really think you can make it alone in a foreign country?” Yoongi asks. He’s not sure what makes him ask, what he’s trying to do, really, but it makes Taehyung turn to him with a look that’s more sharp than he’s seen Taehyung before.

“I think it’s easy to find ways to not be alone,” Taehyung replies. “Like you said, I guess we’re different.”

There’s a set to his jaw that makes Yoongi feel a little guilty for prodding at him. “Sorry,” he says. “I’m not trying to be judgmental. I’m impressed by you, really.”

Taehyung hums at him again. “I’m not anything impressive. I told you, I’m restless.”

Yoongi wonders what it’s like, Taehyung’s seeming ability to take a leap of faith, to trust that something else will work out. Yoongi has always been a grounded sort of person, rooted deeply into the earth under his feet, even when it pushes him to stubbornness. He wonders if you put them up side by side, which of them has the winning strategy.

Maybe neither of them, he thinks. After all, they’re both still unsatisfied with something. Restless.

“You wanna stay the night?” Yoongi asks him.

Taehyung turns to look at him. “You want me to?”

Yoongi swallows. Shrugs. Taehyung smirks at him a little. “You’re easy to fluster,” he says.

“Not usually,” Yoongi complains mildly.

Taehyung laughs at that. “Oh, so I’m special?

“Knock it off,” Yoongi says, making a face at him. Taehyung’s grinning at him, sipping his tea and turning away, like he’s hoping Yoongi doesn’t see his grin.

Yoongi does the same, and the two of them sit in the noise of the city as they look in opposite directions, trying not to be seen looking so pleased.

++

Yoongi isn’t expecting to have to push Taehyung off of him in the morning to be able to move.

Taehyung’s left arm and leg are slung over him like he’s a body pillow, and it takes a solid minute of shoving at him before he pulls back with a confused sort of hum.

When Yoongi gets back from the bathroom, Taehyung blinks at him, looking at least slightly lucid, and Yoongi tries to ignore that Taehyung looks cute like this.

“You trapped me,” Yoongi complains, voice still raspy with sleep. He glances at the clock; it’s only eight, he can sleep another hour. He settles back into bed, pulling the duvet back over himself.

“I’m a hugger,” Taehyung says sleepily.

“You’re heavy,” Yoongi accuses, rolling over so that his back is to Taehyung.

Taehyung follows him, wrapping around Yoongi’s back and draping an arm around his stomach. “You’re small,” he says back, like it’s an argument. His body is warm behind him, broad, and Yoongi lets himself lean back.

“I figured you were a little spoon kind of person,” Yoongi mutters, eyes closed.

“I’m an equal opportunity spoon,” Taehyung replies, the low hum of his voice buzzing through both of them as he says it.

And Yoongi doesn’t argue with that. He just lets himself be held, falls back asleep like that. The second time he wakes up, he does it wrapped in Taehyung’s arms, his breath slow in Yoongi’s ear, and Yoongi thinks, Oh, right — this is nice. He forgot how good this can feel. As he comes back to himself, waking up, he feels a pit forming in his stomach.

He swallows, tries to shake the thought from his head. There’s no use feeling bad for himself for this right now; he might as well enjoy it while it lasts.

Taehyung wakes up for the second time not soon after. He squeezes Yoongi like it’s reflexive, letting out a soft yawn, and he kisses the nape of Yoongi’s neck. Yoongi pauses, blinking to himself for a moment. Taehyung keeps surprising him.

“Morning,” Taehyung murmurs, squeezing him again, purposeful this time.

“You really are a hugger,” Yoongi replies. Taehyung huffs a laugh against his neck. “You want coffee?”

 

They sit at Yoongi’s little kitchen table, two new secondhand mugs sitting between them on the table.

“So,” Taehyung says, posture relaxed in Yoongi’s dining room chair. He looks a little puffy-faced, hair still rumpled, and Yoongi’s really trying not to think about how he’s really terribly cute. “What are your Sunday plans?”

“I’m going to a three year old’s birthday party in a few hours, actually,” Yoongi says, hands wrapped around his coffee mug.

Taehyung raises his eyebrows, looking amused. “Oh? Are you secretly a children’s performer?”

“I do a great cover of Baby Shark,” Yoongi tells him seriously, and Taehyung laughs at him. “No, she’s my niece. Well, not blood-related, but,” he amends out of habit, mostly to himself. Taehyung, across from him, looks surprisingly pleased at his answer.

“I love three year olds,” Taehyung says. “They’re just starting to become people. They’re really funny.”

“You like kids?” Yoongi asks, curious. Everything new he learns about Taehyung is both unexpected and makes too much sense.

“They’re the best,” Taehyung says earnestly. “I’m the oldest at home and I have a lot of cousins, so I’ve always been the babysitter. Guess it’s a good thing I like them. My sister has two babies now, they’re so sweet.”

“I had never been around kids much, before my niece,” Yoongi says with a considering shake of his head. “I don’t think I’m very good with them, in general, but she’s so…it’s so funny, watching your friends raise a little version of them. I like her a lot. I mean, I love her, but I also like her a lot.”

This is sort of a personal conversation, he thinks belatedly, but there’s a freeing sort of openness to doing this with someone who will be on the other side of the planet tomorrow. No second-guessing, just honesty without much consequence. He wonders how this would be going, if he thought Taehyung was staying around. Worse, maybe.

“I’m jealous of you, honestly,” Taehyung says, making a face at himself. “I have to spend my afternoon drowning in suitcases.”

It’s on a whim, the kind he’s been indulging more often than he’s used to, that he says, “You could come. If you wanted to put off your responsibilities a little bit longer.”

Taehyung raises his eyebrows. A smile creeps onto his face, small and pleased. “You’re inviting me to your niece’s birthday party?”

“I’m going to be the only person there without a kid, and you’ll be really good gossip fodder for everyone,” Yoongi says with a shrug.

Taehyung takes a sip of his coffee. “Sold,” he says matter-of-factly. “Where should I meet you?”

Despite himself, Yoongi grins into his coffee mug. He looks forward to seeing the look on Hoseok’s face he’ll get to witness, if nothing else.

Taehyung leaves not long after they finish their coffee. “I should go back to mine and change. These clothes are a little much, don’t you think?” He says, buttoning his shirt back up. It’s a silky black shirt printed with sunflowers; there’s a blazer to wear over it too, slung over his arm at the moment, and a silk scarf as a belt for his trousers.

“Yes,” Yoongi says simply. “I’d wear something you’re comfortable with a toddler vomiting on, if worst comes to worst.”

“Good call,” Taehyung agrees.

When he leaves, as the door closes behind him, Yoongi feels himself surface in his mind. With the strange transfixing glow of him gone, he remembers how dumb this all is, all at once.

“Hm,” he mutters to himself, staring at the door. “Oh well.”

He’s done dumber things, surely, than get a little attached to a boy he barely knows. He reasons with himself, the way he’s good at doing — Taehyung’s a shiny, idealized thing to him, it’s not like Yoongi knows they would have worked out even if he was staying. Maybe it’s good for him, to let himself enjoy getting swept up in this current, no matter how short-lived it is.

He pauses in his thoughts; even if he’s trying to convince himself this isn’t a bad choice, he can’t think too much about how good it feels to like someone this much.

Yoongi eats a small breakfast. He washes his face, shaves, puts on a small spray of the cologne he likes; regular tasks, because somehow between bursts of Taehyung, he still has to live his regular life.

 

 

Taehyung looks more casual than Yoongi has seen him. He’s wearing loose tan trousers, a tighter-fitting white t-shirt tucked into them, and a light denim jacket over top. The dark wavy curl of his hair is relatively unstyled, hanging down past his chin, strands tucked messily behind his ears, and he looks infuriatingly dashing. Awful.

“You know, you look at me like that a lot,” Taehyung says as he walks up to where Yoongi is standing.

“Like what?” Yoongi asks, caught off-guard.

“All focused. I’ve been trying to figure out if it’s a good look or not.”

Yoongi blinks. “It’s a neutral look.”

“So it is a good look?” Taehyung asks, sounding delighted. He looks Yoongi up and down. “Oh, our shoes match. Are we a couple?” He teases.

Yoongi feels himself blush — embarrassing. He glances down at their shoes; they’re both wearing Converse, Yoongi’s black, Taehyung’s cream-colored with the backs folded down under his heels, bent completely out of shape.

“You are annoying,” Yoongi huffs, knowing full well he’s all bark no bite. He thinks Taehyung must know it by now too.

“Is that why you like me?” Taehyung asks him, leaning in slightly with his eyes narrowed, a grin on his lips.

Yoongi narrows his eyes back. “No.”

Taehyung shrugs at him pleasantly. “Okay,” he says, voice disbelieving just to annoy him. Yoongi bites back a laugh at it, and Taehyung looks satisfied with himself.

Oh no, Yoongi thinks suddenly. Maybe it is why he likes him. A little, anyway.

“Come on,” Yoongi says, ushering Taehyung down the sidewalk. They’re standing in front of a tiny lot converted into a park, a patch of grass and a garden with a concrete sitting area and a small children’s play structure. It’s just across the street from the closest bus stop to Hoseok and Namjoon, only a few blocks further into the small neighborhood, and Yoongi leads the way there.

“So tell me about your friends,” Taehyung prompts as they walk down the street. They’re still a little early, and Yoongi’s glad for it; he knows better than to be late to things with Hoseok.

“Their names are Hoseok and Namjoon, their daughter’s name is Sarang,” Yoongi tells him, adjusting his grip around the handle of the purple gift bag in his hands. “Namjoon’s an art teacher, Hoseok works in fashion.” He shrugs, not sure what else to tell him.

“I want to watch the slice of life drama about their lives, I think,” Taehyung says. “It sounds like it would be nice.”

Yoongi snorts. “I resent that you just made me a side character.”

“I think you’d be a great side character.” Taehyung makes a face that Yoongi can tell is faux-earnest, trying to goad him into annoyance.

“A fan favorite?” Yoongi asks, raising his eyebrows.

Taehyung makes a face. “Ehh,” he says, wavering his hand. Yoongi laughs under his breath.

As they walk into Namjoon and Hoseok’s building, a low-rise block of four apartments, Yoongi steels himself.

“You’re a surprise guest, by the way,” Yoongi tells him.

“Oh?” Taehyung asks. “Will anyone mind?”

“No,” Yoongi answers, walking up to the apartment door. “Hoseok will pretend to, but he’ll give it up.”

“Glad to cause a stir,” Taehyung says pleasantly, and Yoongi believes him.

Hoseok is the one who comes to the door when Yoongi knocks, a smile across his face as he looks Yoongi over. “Hyung!” He greets, mouth open to say more, but then he sees Taehyung. He tilts his head to the side, looking back at Yoongi and blinking, eyebrows raised.

“I brought a friend,” Yoongi says, resisting the urge to snicker at the way Hoseok is trying to look polite to Taehyung while also glaring at Yoongi.

“You brought a friend,” Hoseok repeats back to him, like if he says it again Yoongi will correct him and call the whole thing a joke.

“Mhm,” Yoongi says mildly. “You’ve been surrounded by your extended family for the last two days, right? I thought you’d like the chance to gossip about something.”

Hoseok looks toward Taehyung. “Hello,” Taehyung says kindly. “I’m Kim Taehyung.”

“I’m Jung Hoseok, welcome to my daughter’s birthday party,” Hoseok says, aiming a raised eyebrow at Yoongi. “I’d like to be mad, but the thing is that I do love gossip.”

Taehyung smiles, unfazed. “Me too. Find me later and tell me something embarrassing about Yoongi.”

At that, an earnest smile spreads on Hoseok’s face. “Okay, I like him.” He steps back, making room for the two of them to walk in.

There’s a shoe rack next to their front door with a pair of colorful platform sneakers, a pair of brown boots, and a tiny pair of purple sneakers all in a row. Next to them is a pair of black high heels, and he can hear Jiwoo’s voice in the kitchen to match them. He and Taehyung line their shoes up in a new row, two pairs of Converse next to each other, and Yoongi sets his gift bag down at the end.

“Matching shoes?” Hoseok asks under his breath as he walks by. Taehyung must hear, because he looks at Yoongi excitedly, a mischievous glint in his eye. “Couple?” He mouths, gesturing between them. Yoongi closes his eyes for a moment, trying to summon his patience. He was so focused on teasing Hoseok with his invitation of Taehyung, he neglected to think about how Taehyung would be a perfect accomplice to Hoseok’s teasing back to him.

When they walk into the living room of the apartment, Namjoon and Jiwoo’s conversation stops as they both turn to look at Yoongi. Well, at Taehyung really, but they’re both too polite to stare at a stranger, so they stare at Yoongi instead.

“This is Kim Taehyung,” Yoongi says, gesturing toward him. “We met three days ago and he’s moving out of the country tomorrow.”

“Thank you for having me,” Taehyung says cheerfully with a wave. He looks around at the almost dumbstruck reactions of Namjoon and Jiwoo and turns back to Yoongi with a smile. “Oh, I must be a very out of character decision for you, huh?”

“Yes,” Yoongi replies. “I’m sure you enjoy that.”

“I do,” Taehyung agrees with a nod.

“Now this is interesting,” Jiwoo says, her surprise turned to delight. Hoseok walks over to stand next to her, and they aim near-identical smirks over at Yoongi and Taehyung.

“Stop, you look scary when you do that,” Yoongi says to them, a long-suffering whine in his voice.

“I’m Kim Namjoon,” Namjoon says kindly, stepping toward Taehyung with a bow and a hand outstretched to shake.

“Hello,” Taehyung says, voice pleasant as he shakes hands with Namjoon. “Sorry if I’m intruding.”

“No,” Namjoon says with a smile and a shake of his head. “There will be a handful of three year olds running around in about twenty minutes, I imagine you’ll require much less supervision.”

“You never know,” Taehyung tells him with a grin. Namjoon looks at Yoongi, eyebrow raising a twitch just to tease him. Yoongi feels himself going pink.

“I’m Jung Jiwoo,” Jiwoo calls from her place next to Hoseok. She looks even more like him than usual when they’re both wearing glasses. “Are you any good at rolling kimbap?”

“Ah, noona,” Namjoon says, snapping and pointing to her, a realization on his face. “I forgot.”

Jiwoo winks and points to her temple. “I’m a genius, Namjoon.”

“I’m no good at anything in the kitchen,” Taehyung says apologetically. “But I’m a good learner and great company.”

“I like him,” Jiwoo announces.

“You guys spend too much time together,” Yoongi complains, pointing loosely between her and Hoseok. “You’re too similar.”

“When Sarang gets older, I’ll have three of them,” Namjoon says, complaint in his voice, but Yoongi knows it’s an act.

Hoseok waves him off. “Your mom’s family’s genes are so strong, I think she’ll look more like you when she gets older,” he says. “All those cousins are practically identical.”

“I’m not talking about how she looks,” Namjoon complains back, a little whine in his voice. Yoongi snickers to himself under his breath.

He’s used to this, to being in the middle of Namjoon and Hoseok’s little family, but he glances over at Taehyung to gauge his reaction. It’s a much different speed than Taehyung’s friends, at least the particular version of them he saw last night, and he wonders if Taehyung would find it boring. Or…awkward, or something. But Taehyung is just glancing between Namjoon and Hoseok with a look that Yoongi thinks is warm. And that makes him feel nicer than he thought it would.

“I’m happy to help,” Taehyung tells Jiwoo with a polite smile. He looks over at Yoongi, meets his eyes for a moment, and Yoongi lets himself be caught looking. Jiwoo leads him away, toward the kitchen, and Yoongi looks away from them. The feeling of returning to reality after looking at Taehyung is starting to become familiar, he thinks, and he’s not overly fond of that.

Across from him, Namjoon and Hoseok are staring, Namjoon curious, Hoseok still teasing.

“He’s cute,” Hoseok offers, voice not quite quiet enough.

“He is, isn’t he,” Yoongi mutters in response.

Hoseok looks him over. Yoongi shrugs, and Hoseok shrugs back in return. “Well, I’m going to wake up Sarang. She’ll be glad to see you.”

Yoongi softens at that, offering him a small smile. “I’ll be glad to see her too.”

Hoseok walks off, and Yoongi turns to Namjoon, who’s standing with his arms crossed and an interested expression on his face. “So how’d the going away party go?” He asks, voice hushed enough that Jiwoo and Taehyung couldn’t hear them from across the room, even if they were paying attention. (They’re not, Yoongi notices; there’s a stack of seaweed sheets in front of them, and Jiwoo is opening containers of filling, chopped carrots and thin rolled omelets. Taehyung is listening to her, nodding eagerly.)

Yoongi isn’t surprised to hear Namjoon ask. On some level, Namjoon and Hoseok being joined at the hip makes his life easier, since they always keep each other on the same page, share all the bits of Yoongi’s life he only mentions to one of them. “Well,” Yoongi starts, not sure how to answer that. “I brought him here, so.” He says, hoping that conveys something. It should. He can count on one hand the number of people Yoongi’s dated who he even introduced to Namjoon and Hoseok. But thinking about it like that makes this feel kind of serious, when to Yoongi it felt like the opposite — an experiment in impulse that he can embrace before the required expiration date of this whole thing.

Namjoon hums in agreement, not offering anything else for a moment.

“He leaves tomorrow,” Yoongi says.

“You mentioned that.”

Yoongi nods, only a little embarrassed that he forgot. “Right.”

Namjoon is eyeing him over in that Namjoon way he has, not pressing him for anything but observing quietly. “I barely know him, anyway,” Yoongi says in response to Namjoon’s look.

“I’m sorry,” Namjoon says finally. Yoongi nods, looking away from him.

The quiet stilting pattern of their conversation, silence well-practiced between them after being friends for this long, is interrupted by the sound of Sarang’s voice echoing down the hallway as she emerges from her bedroom, dressed in bright-colored clothes that Yoongi is sure Hoseok designed. He’s had fun making kids’ clothes in the last three years, never much in his repertoire before he had a built-in inspiration, product tester and model. Her hair is still messy, but there’s a wide grin on her face as her small feet pad quickly toward Yoongi.

“Uncle!” She says clumsily in her little voice, words still a little unclear, but Yoongi knows her well enough to understand most of what she says.

“Sarangie,” he says warmly in return, crouching down to be at her height, to give her a hug. “Happy birthday.” She’s small in his arms and she lets out a giggle into his shoulder. She’s so sweet, so much of her parents’ kindness in her that it makes his heart hurt if he thinks about it for too long. “How were your grandparents?”

“Nice,” she says decisively. She pulls back from him and Yoongi pets gently at her hair, smiling at her. She has the round of Namjoon’s cheeks and a heart-shaped smile. “They have puppies.”

“They do have puppies,” Yoongi agrees. “Did you get lots of gifts? Did everyone take care of you well?”

“Yep!” Sarang says enthusiastically in her loud voice. She moves on from him then, shuffling over to Namjoon and looking up at him sweetly.

“Good morning Appa,” she says happily, and Namjoon beams down at her. They talk, easy conversation, Namjoon interpreting her words easily. She had a dream during her nap, and he watches her with interest, nodding at her meandering story about it.

“Your friends will be here soon, honey, could you come brush your hair?” Hoseok asks, voice calling from the bathroom where he must be waiting for her.

Sarang pauses her story and thinks about that. She lets out a big sigh. “I need to brush my hair,” she tells Namjoon and Yoongi. Yoongi likes when she plays grown-up, can hear the tone of voice of Hoseok’s that she must be copying.

“What an inconvenience,” Yoongi tells her, nodding his head in sympathy.

“It’s an in..inconvence,” she agrees, mouth tripping over the word. Yoongi nods at her again. When she skips off down the hall, Yoongi looks over at Namjoon with a smile. He looks fond, which is typical for him.

“I’m going to go relieve Taehyung,” Yoongi tells Namjoon, and Namjoon nods at him. “Very noble of you,” he says, before he grabs the broom leaning against the wall and walking it over to their pantry to put it away, busying himself with the little tidying errands he must have left to complete.

In the kitchen, Taehyung is looking attentively at Jiwoo as she tells a story about fashion school, from the sound of it. There’s one neatly rolled kimbap and one messier-looking one sitting on a tray in front of them, and Yoongi steps into place and moves them onto a cutting board, grabbing a forgotten knife and beginning to slice them.

“Thank you,” Jiwoo sing-songs at him and Yoongi makes an agreeing noise.

“How are you, noona?” Yoongi asks her as he looks down at the rolls he’s cutting in front of him.

“Oh, you know. Doing alright. Tired from family,” she says with a shrug.

“Was it alright?” Yoongi asks quietly; Hoseok didn’t go into much detail on the phone last night, and he’s been curious. He’s not sure she wants to get into it in front of Taehyung, but he’s staying politely quiet, for his sake.

“It was,” Jiwoo tells him, nodding. “We weren’t there for long, but. They’re trying, I guess. They’re good to Sarang.”

Hoseok and Jiwoo didn’t talk to their parents much before Sarang. Things got difficult after they both came out one after the other, and it was easier to distance than fight through it. Then Jiwoo carried Sarang for Hoseok and Namjoon, and that was a sore spot once they found out. But a grandchild changes things, and they’ve all been working on it lately, Hoseok says for Sarang’s sake; Yoongi’s heard a lot of venting on the subject in the last year.

“Well, you got it done with, and now you get to go back to being the fashionable aunt with a wine glass in her hand like I know you crave,” he tells her with a wry smile. He’s known Jiwoo for as long as he’s known Hoseok, they lived together when Yoongi first met him, and he likes her nearly as much. She took Yoongi and Namjoon in with time, an older sister who rolled her eyes and gave them advice in one smooth motion. It was hard not to feel close to her, with how close she and Hoseok always have been.

“I do, Yoongi,” she agrees, nodding at him emphatically. “Finish making these kimbap for me, would you? Look at Namjoon, he’s spinning in circles, he’s hopeless.” She gestures over to where Namjoon is pacing back and forth between their pantry and the coffee table, trying to gather objects.

“She’s cool,” Taehyung says in an impressed-sounding whisper to him once she walks off, like he doesn’t want her to hear.

“She would love that you think so,” Yoongi tells him with a soft laugh, stepping into Jiwoo’s place behind the counter, grabbing a spare pair of crinkly plastic gloves and scooping a handful of rice onto the seaweed laid out in front of him.

“And you’re telling me he teaches high school art?” Taehyung asks, disbelief in his soft voice as he gestures over toward Namjoon, looking like he’s trying to be subtle.

Yoongi raises his eyebrows. “Yes?”

“To be a gay sixteen year old in that classroom,” Taehyung offers wistfully, and Yoongi snorts.

“Really? I bring you to their toddler’s birthday party and you’re turned on?” Yoongi asks him, matching his quiet tone. There’s noise on the other end of the apartment anyway, Sarang singing and Hoseok singing along with her, their voices echoing from the bathroom, Jiwoo and Namjoon talking by the door.

Taehyung shoots him a look. “You look me in the eye and tell me you weren’t attracted to Park Jimin last night.”

“Hey,” Yoongi replies, pointing a gloved finger at him. “We’re all attracted to people. I didn’t tell you about it.”

“And why is that a rule? How is that more polite? Isn’t it more polite for you to know upfront that I think your friends are hot?” Taehyung argues.

“I think it’s unnecessary,” Yoongi says back. He’s spreading ingredients on the rice, ignoring the look on Taehyung’s face.

Taehyung leans in. “Do you think they’re hot?” There’s the beginning of an absolutely shit-eating grin threatening to spread on his face, Yoongi can tell, and he hates it.

He looks away, back down at the cutting board. “Do you think your friends are hot?”

“Yeah, definitely. I mean,” he says, pausing to make a face, maybe at himself. “Not to fulfill a gay stereotype, but I have actually slept with all of them.”

Yoongi looks back up. “Have you?” He asks.

“Jimin a long time ago. Seokjin and Jungkook…more recently.”

Yoongi’s eyebrows raise, looking at Taehyung expectantly, waiting for more on that. Taehyung shrugs. “Something about me just makes people really want to have threesomes with me.”

“I can’t stand you, I hope you know that,” Yoongi tells him. And there it is, the shit-eating grin on his face.

“I can tell,” Taehyung says. “You’re giving off really strong signals. About how much you dislike me.” Yoongi doesn’t respond, and Taehyung goes on. “I can feel it radiating off you, the disgust.” They’re standing close together, side by side behind the counter, and Taehyung bumps his hip against Yoongi’s, moving his hand close to Yoongi’s on the counter. Yoongi looks up and glares at him.

“That’s a lot of information to give me, you know, about your messy little friend group,” Yoongi says, ignoring him.

“I love oversharing,” Taehyung responds easily. And whether he’s being sarcastic or not, Yoongi believes him. “You never answered me, though. I bet you do think they’re hot. I think it’s healthy, really.”

Yoongi rolls the kimbap in front of him up with the small bamboo mat, gripping around it tightly with his palms to shape it. “I’ve…been with both of them too, actually. Not — I mean, I only slept with Hoseok.” Taehyung looks giddy at this, actively leaning forward, and Yoongi rolls his eyes, waving his hand dismissively. “A ridiculously long time ago, years before they got together. We were…hooking up, I guess, for a while back then.”

Now Taehyung looks delighted. “What about Namjoon?”

“We went on a couple dates. We didn’t get along, actually, they were kind of a nightmare,” Yoongi says. “We both gave a bad first impression, I think. Became friends later by chance instead. Anyway, then they met each other, and…” he trails off, gesturing around them. “Now they’re here. So I think it all worked out for the best.”

“You tell this story to your dates?” Hoseok’s voice asks, and Yoongi jumps, startled for Hoseok to be walking into the kitchen.

“I — no, not usually,” Yoongi mutters defensively, unrolling the bamboo mat in front of them and letting his formed kimbap out.

“I’m a skilled conversationalist,” Taehyung replies brightly.

“Among other things, I’m sure,” Hoseok says, offering a grin, and for a moment, Taehyung seems mildly flustered at the innuendo. It’s delicious, Yoongi thinks.

Then he recovers, though, and turns to Yoongi with a faux-innocent curiosity. “Am I your date?” He asks.

“You’re a nightmare,” Yoongi replies calmly. Taehyung laughs, but accepts the answer, and starts neatly arranging the already-cut kimbap pieces on the platter that was waiting nearby.

Hoseok is giving Yoongi a look. Yoongi ignores it.

 

Taehyung wasn’t lying, he does like kids. He watches a gaggle of three-year-olds with an endeared look on his face, introduces himself to them individually when they’re curious.

“I’m a friend of Sarang’s uncle,” he tells a little girl with a blue bow in her hair and round cheeks. “I like the butterfly on your shirt a lot.” She smiles wide at him, and Yoongi looks away from their interaction, the force of something so horribly cute. Ugh.

He’s politely well-mannered to the parents of the toddlers tearing their way through Namjoon and Hoseok’s apartment. He’s handsome, sweet with kids, and his hair looks so good like that, and Yoongi thinks maybe a couple moms are a little jealous of him, in some small superficial way. How bizarre. It’s kind of fun.

Taehyung pops a piece of kimbap in his mouth, cheeks full of it, and gives Yoongi an exaggerated thumbs-up from across the room. He’s a dork, Yoongi thinks to himself. How does he manage to walk around so cool and put-together, when he’s a dork?

“I can’t wait to know more about this, personally,” Hoseok tells him. Yoongi turns back to him, blinks, and then he feels a latent blush start to creep to his cheeks.

“Give me like…a week, to process,” Yoongi says quietly. “Then maybe.”

Hoseok raises his eyebrows, but Yoongi can tell he’s not trying to prod too much. “Very ambitious end date you’re projecting.”

“Let me dream,” Yoongi mutters. Hoseok puts a hand on his shoulder, quick and solid, and Yoongi appreciates it.

“I should keep my thoughts about how much I like him to myself, then, I guess,” Hoseok says.

“Probably for the best, yeah,” Yoongi agrees.

Hoseok hums. “Shame.”

Yoongi lets out a sigh. “Tell me about it.”

“Life is funny, isn’t it?” Hoseok asks. Across the room, Namjoon is in an armchair, Sarang in his lap because she’s momentarily tired of the game her friends are playing with an impressive pile of stuffed animals. Taehyung’s in polite conversation with someone’s mother by the food.

“I can’t stop laughing. Ha ha ha,” Yoongi enunciates dryly.

“I know,” Hoseok tells him, and it sounds like an apology. It’s a kind of conversation they have often, nonsensical with familiarity. They’ve known each other too long, Yoongi thinks. “Did you get what you were looking for, bringing him here?”

What was Yoongi looking for? He’s not sure, so he doesn’t know if he got it or not. He thinks maybe he wasn’t looking for anything, besides an excuse to see Taehyung a little more. He got that, at least. “Maybe,” he answers.

Hoseok hums, and shifts his weight toward Yoongi, rests his head on Yoongi’s shoulder for a moment. In front of them, the three year olds have split into teams for a reason Yoongi didn’t catch, and Sarang is clambering out of Namjoon’s lap to join them. Namjoon gets up then, and walks over to Hoseok and Yoongi.

“Hey,” he offers in greeting, taking up his usual spot next to Hoseok, a hand racing out on instinct to rest against his lower back. “It’s going alright, huh?”

Hoseok nods. “She’s having fun.” The three of them watch Sarang for a moment, her laughing face as she hugs one of her friends.

“She’s so sweet,” Taehyung’s voice offers, and Yoongi almost jumps. He turns his head the opposite direction as the way it was looking when Namjoon walked up and sees Taehyung standing near them at the edge of the room, looking friendly. “Sarang, I mean. She’s such a good kid.”

“She’s perfect,” Hoseok responds, syllables rounding cutely out of sheer baby talk muscle memory. Namjoon grins at him, then turns to Taehyung. “Thank you.”

“I have a favor to ask,” Taehyung says then, looking at Hoseok. Yoongi furrows his eyebrows.

Hoseok turns to him too, the three of them looking at him. “You said you’d tell me something embarrassing about Yoongi, right?” Taehyung asks, face still innocent, and Yoongi rolls his eyes, pretends not to be amused.

Hoseok is delighted. Namjoon huffs a laugh too. “Oh, of course. I have thousands, how can I choose something to tell you…give me a minute, let me think,” Hoseok says, and then he assumes a comically animated thinking face, because Hoseok likes to be comically animated from time to time. Then he leans in conspiratorially toward Taehyung and stage-whispers, “He’s afraid of cows.”

Yoongi turns to him with an incredulous look. “Really? That’s the best you have?”

Hoseok snorts. “No, of course it’s not the best I have, I just met him. I’m trying to protect you, hyung.”

“How can you be afraid of cows?” Taehyung asks him. “They’re sweet.”

“Have you ever been face to face with one? They’re huge. They have horns,” Yoongi defends himself. Taehyung laughs at him openly. Yoongi just rolls his eyes again.

Two toddlers quickly pad by and it catches Hoseok’s attention. “Hyunjoo, Chansung, walk carefully, don’t get hurt,” he calls out to them kindly. He and Namjoon walk off toward them, to steer them back to the other kids, sitting on the rug and playing with a variety of blocks and little toys that Sarang laid out for them.

When Yoongi turns back to Taehyung, away from the distraction of the children, Taehyung’s looking at him with a soft smile. “I like your friends,” he says.

Yoongi feels a little warm at that, which he didn’t entirely expect. “Me too.”

 

Eventually, a cake is cut. They all sing happy birthday to Sarang, whose eyes are crinkled into a smile that looks just like Hoseok’s, just like Jiwoo’s. She opens gifts happily, plays with them with her friends for a few minutes, but all the adults are aware of how quickly the kids are losing steam after a day of eating snacks and playing excitedly. Yoongi misses being an age where people expected him to need a nap to cope.

Among a stream of Namjoon and Hoseok’s parent friends and their happily tired, slightly sticky kids, Yoongi and Taehyung slip out of the front door, Yoongi waving goodbye back at Hoseok, Namjoon, and Sarang in their arms. The two of them walk down the street, back through the neighborhood to the bus stop they met at earlier. They’re quiet for a few minutes in the late afternoon sun, the sky orange in anticipation of setting.

“It must be nice,” Taehyung says, looking down with a smile on his face. “Having a little family around, like that.”

It is nice, Yoongi thinks to himself. It’s nice to know he’s a part of it, too. His brother’s his family, but it’s a different feeling; he and his brother were seeds planted together asynchronously, forced to figure out how to grow over the years, sometimes against their will. Hoseok and Namjoon are a family that they all chose, watered deliberately. “Sure,” he says. He glances at Taehyung, the way he looks a little wistful. He decides to put aside caution and risk speaking his mind. “But don’t you have family around too?”

Taehyung stops walking, standing still for a moment, and Yoongi slows his pace, looking back at him. He blinks to himself, eyebrows furrowed slightly. “I do,” he says, like the thought hadn’t occurred to him. Yoongi’s lips twitch into a smile.

“They’re glad to have you around too, I’m sure,” Yoongi says.

Taehyung laughs quietly. “What, are you trying to pull at my heartstrings?”

“Not at all,” Yoongi answers easily. “It’s just — it’s kind of a powerful position you’ve given me.”

“Oh?” Taehyung asks. They’re almost at the bus stop, where they’ll go their separate ways. Taehyung to finish packing his suitcases, Yoongi to sit at his kitchen table with a mug of tea, maybe pick up the pen and yellow legal pad he keeps next to his desk for when something makes him want to write.

“It’s like I got a bird’s eye view of your life. I mean, only the parts you showed me, but you’ve shown me a lot, I think. It’s odd to have so much perspective on a stranger.”

“I think we stopped being strangers a few orgasms ago, hyung,” Taehyung tells him, looking amused at the idea.

Yoongi shrugs. “It’s relative.”

Taehyung nods, crossing his arms over his chest, a grin still on his face as he looks down at the pavement under their feet. “Have I been an interesting case study?”

“I think you’re very interesting,” Yoongi answers honestly. “How about me?”

“You’re fascinating,” Taehyung replies, a teasing glint in his eye, but Yoongi thinks he’s being sincere. And he lets himself ache for a moment over that, over the unstoppable urge to wonder what they could be if Taehyung was staying here. But he won’t be. So he lets it pass.

“Anyway, I wasn’t trying to make you feel bad. I just wanted to remind you, there are people here who are excited to see you when you’re home again. I met them. They told me themselves.”

“So you’re not including yourself?” Taehyung asks him. It’s that middle ground between joking flirtation and honesty that Taehyung seems so fluent in, that Yoongi thinks is a little infuriating.

“I don’t know, holding a candle for a mysterious boy who disappears abroad sounds a little too much like a main character storyline. I’m more the supporting friend type, right?” His voice is light, because that’s where he’d like to stay, but Taehyung is looking at him in a way that carries weight.

“I think it would suit you, actually,” Taehyung says, voice still unreadable.

Yoongi drops the joke in his voice then, looks back at Taehyung unflinching. “I’m not the kind of person to wait on possibilities.” He can be honest too.

Taehyung hesitates for a moment, then nods. A smile crosses his lips, but it’s not exactly happy, the way he looks. “It’s like wishing you could see your own funeral, isn’t it? To want to know how people will think of you when you leave.”

Yoongi, on some level, would like to tell Taehyung that he’ll think of him like a rainstorm. Sudden and disruptive, leaving him to sit next to the furnace and wait to dry out. He’ll think of the smirk on his face and the heart on his sleeve that seems cartoonishly stitched, overexaggerated in its proportions, like it’s really just a fashion statement. He’ll think of a tape recorder and the soft tan of his skin, the wave in his hair, his neat trousers.

Well, really, he wouldn’t like to tell him that — he thinks Taehyung would like to hear it. But no matter how uncharacteristically upfront and honest he’s being with this man, he’s not reciting poetry for him, about him; that’s the kind of shit you have to earn, in Yoongi’s opinion.

“I guess. Except that you can come back and ask,” Yoongi tells him instead. Taehyung nods at him again.

Yoongi’s bus will be here in the next five minutes or so, if he knows the schedule well enough, which is a long time for Taehyung to keep looking at him. Yoongi may have made some observations on Taehyung’s life, but certainly not enough to psychoanalyze that look on his face.

“Hyung, would you do something for me?” Taehyung asks him.

“Depends on what it is,” Yoongi replies.

“It’s selfish,” Taehyung says, a self-deprecating expression on his face. “But would you see me off at the train station tomorrow?”

“I thought you didn’t like goodbyes,” Yoongi says.

Taehyung hums. “I don’t. But I still want to give you one.” There’s a pause while Yoongi mulls that over, and Taehyung speaks again, sounding only slightly nervous. “If you don’t want to, though, I really —”

Yoongi chuckles at him, at the wavering tone in his voice, and it cuts him off before he can waffle anymore. “I like when you’re nervous,” Yoongi says, and Taehyung rolls his eyes a little. “What time?”

“Ten A.M.,” Taehyung says, looking…Yoongi’s not sure. Touched, maybe?

“Lucky you,” Yoongi replies. “I work dinner shift tomorrow.”

“Lucky me,” Taehyung echoes. He smiles again, and it’s more genuine now. The bus is just down the street, and Yoongi takes a step toward the curb in anticipation of it.

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” Yoongi says, turning his back to the bus for a moment to look at Taehyung. And Taehyung, terrifyingly, looks like he’s debating stepping forward and kissing Yoongi goodbye. “Good luck packing,” Yoongi says, hoping to set him off-course.

“Right,” Taehyung mutters distantly, then it looks like his mind catches up with him and he stops looking at Yoongi’s lips. “I’ll need it,” he says in a friendly tone, and offers Yoongi a wave as he steps onto the bus.

When Yoongi catches a glimpse of him again from the window after he sits down, Taehyung’s looking back at him through the window, and Yoongi feels his heart beat hard in his chest. He swallows before turning back around to look ahead.

There’s something that could be a song, maybe, making his hands itch. He sits on them for the ride home, hoping it’ll make him forget the urgency of the rushing feeling in his chest for a man leaving the country tomorrow.

He tries not to think of the way Hoseok kept looking at him this afternoon. He tries not to think of Taehyung’s hand on his knee. He tries not to think about goodbye sooner than he needs to.

He caves halfway home, prying his hands out from beneath his thighs to open his notes app and feel sorry for himself.

++

Lying in bed that night, Yoongi can’t help himself anymore. He finally lets himself wallow.

He can’t remember the last time he felt like he had a connection with a new acquaintance. Especially not this kind, quick and strong, electric. The kind that feels taut between them, like if he pulls away they’ll just snap back together. He wonders why it had to be with someone who was so good at leaving.

But then, he wonders if he’d even have stayed around to feel it, if he knew Taehyung was a real option.

Yoongi doesn’t think of himself as a romantic, particularly. He has love in his life; he has good family, even better friends. He’s on a stable footing, even if life isn’t the most exciting it’s ever been. For all the small ways he wishes it was different, he doesn’t dream of romantic love very often.

But it would be nice, wouldn’t it? He thinks, allowing himself some self-pity at the memory of waking up in Taehyung’s arms that morning. He shouldn’t have let him stay the night, he knew it would only make this worse.

Yoongi falls into uneasy sleep far too late at night, thinking of steady hands in his.

++

The coffee was a poor choice, he thinks as he steps into the station. He can feel anxiety buzzing around in his brain, a swarm of worried bees. He ignores them though, instead looking around for the signpost Taehyung told him to meet him at. He said there was a bench underneath it — and sure enough, when he looks down from the large sign pointing to different train lines, he sees Taehyung sitting there.

Today, Taehyung looks more like the sleep-rumpled boy he remembers from his kitchen than he does a handsome stranger. Yoongi isn’t surprised to feel a pang of sadness at the thought, but he stamps it down. I don’t even know him, he reminds himself, heartbeat loud in his ears.

Taehyung stands up, offering Yoongi half a smile in greeting. It doesn’t quite meet his eyes, Yoongi thinks. Why did Taehyung ask him to do this, to see him sad to leave? Yoongi swallows as he walks up to Taehyung, glancing down at the two suitcases at his feet. He wonders if one of them is just stacks of records and cassettes, all the little trinkets he saw on Taehyung’s shelves, or if that got left behind. He wonders, unfortunately not for the first time, how much Taehyung usually leaves behind.

“Hyung,” Taehyung greets him, low voice sweet on the word. That’s all it takes for Yoongi to regret coming.

“Hey,” Yoongi responds, lifting his hand in a wave that feels silly even as he does it. “You ready?”

Taehyung laughs quietly at that. “I guess so.”

There’s a beat of silence, the two of them looking at each other, and the way Taehyung looks like he wants to say something is giving Yoongi hives. He should interrupt him, steer this conversation away from…wherever it’s going. Back toward something normal. He’s not sure what that would be, what normal is for a relative stranger who he’s too attached to already, for a man who was able to sweep him up like a current before washing back out to sea.

He’s too busy thinking to speak, so Taehyung beats him to it. “Thank you for the last few days.”

“I…” Yoongi starts, and then his voice fades. He’s not sure what to say back. A thank you doesn’t seem right; he’s standing at the shore, watching the tide trickle back away from him. “Good luck,” he says instead.

Taehyung hums, nodding, and doesn’t say anything for a moment. “You feel special, hyung.” Yoongi’s eyes shoot up to his in surprise, and Taehyung looks faintly embarrassed. “Sorry. I know that’s not…I know I’m leaving. I just wanted you to know.”

Yoongi nods back, swallows again. He could say something back, something sentimental, something radically honest, just because he can. But speaking his feelings into the void isn’t something that’s ever given him relief. He’d rather hold onto them, jot them in the back of a notepad to find later, to deal with later. “I like you, Kim Taehyung.” In another context, maybe that would feel like radical honesty to Yoongi, but he has so many other things he could say that would be harder. More. He can tell Taehyung that, at least.

Across from him, Taehyung’s cheeks pink, and Yoongi wishes he didn’t like it so much.

“Keep my number, would you?” Taehyung asks him, stepping toward Yoongi.

Yoongi raises an eyebrow. “Maybe,” he offers, and Taehyung grins at him, smal and a little sad. Yoongi knows the feeling. Their faces are close, and Yoongi is the one who closes the gap, leaning forward to kiss Taehyung again. Taehyung must have been waiting for it though, wanting it, because he responds quick as anything. It’s more of a kiss than Yoongi intended, deeper and longer than he meant, out here in the middle of the station.

But god, who cares. It’s good, and Yoongi wishes that Taehyung could put a hand on the small of his back, the side of his waist, the nape of his neck. He remembers, again, Taehyung pressed against his back early in the morning, kissing the nape of his neck, and that’s what makes him pull back. When he opens his eyes he has a glimpse of Taehyung leaning forward to follow after him like it’s instinct, his eyes mostly-lidded. Pretty, he thinks. Another pang of sadness. Yoongi takes a step back.

Taehyung is looking at him like…something. Too much of something. The anxiety spills into his mind again, the tight worry coiling in his chest, and he wants to leave.

“Here,” Taehyung says, and then turns to rustle through the bag hanging at his side. Not what Yoongi was expecting; it takes him off-guard enough to forget his flight instinct kicked in. Taehyung offers him a flash drive, and Yoongi furrows his eyebrows as he takes it. “It’s your tape.”

“Oh,” Yoongi mutters, looking down at the black plastic.

“I just thought…I don’t know,” Taehyung says, self-conscious. “Maybe I want you to remember me. Is that sad?”

“I’d remember you without a souvenir,” Yoongi tells him, still looking at the flash drive instead of Taehyung. Talk about radical honesty.

It’s Taehyung’s turn, then, to say, “Oh.” He’s blushing again. Yoongi wants to drag him by the collar to somewhere dark and private, hold his cheek in his hand, maybe even grab at his hip hard enough to leave a mark. Instead, he does something almost as bold, he thinks, and reaches down to hold one of Taehyung’s hands.

“Go catch your flight,” he tells Taehyung, and Taehyung nods back at him slowly. “Good luck. Really.”

“You too. Good luck, hyung,” Taehyung repeats. He squeezes Yoongi’s hand, looking at him with those big sweet eyes, and there’s a flashing alarm going off in his head begging him to look away, but he doesn’t.

They separate like magnets pulled apart from each other, like they have to pull to get themselves to finally click apart. And as he steps back, out of Taehyung’s magnetic field, Yoongi brings his hand up in a wave goodbye, wincing at himself internally; the gesture feels silly, after all of this. Taehyung’s lips twitch into half a smile, though, and he lifts a hand back to return the wave.

Yoongi thinks about saying something else, but then a large man in a suit runs into him bodily, knocking the wind out of him as he trips forward unexpectedly. “Yah,” the man scolds as he walks by, and Yoongi turns in his direction incredulously. “You walked into me!” He says back, defensive on instinct even despite the way he was standing there dazed in a busy station.

When he recovers, turns back toward Taehyung’s direction with pink cheeks at his own outburst, he finds the spot empty. Taehyung saw his opening and slipped off. Yoongi swallows, clenching his fists at his side for a moment, his left fist gripping around the little flash drive he’s still holding.

That’s that, then, he thinks to himself, and tries to avoid thinking about the hollow feeling in his stomach. It will pass, because all things do. If you screw your feet in tight to the earth underneath you and learn to hold steady, you watch these things drift by with time. Yoongi has always found comfort in the fact that at the end, after things that rocked him finally passed by, he was still there.

On the other hand, he thinks, imagining Taehyung as a stubborn dandelion seed on the wind — when you stay planted in place, you never see anything new.

Yoongi turns, walks purposefully toward the exit of the station, and tries to stop thinking about this. He has a life to get back to, he supposes, though he’s not sure if he’ll be able to anytime soon.

++

Hoseok looks up at him from his laptop and raises an eyebrow. “Stop saying it’s stupid.”

“It is stupid,” Yoongi argues back. They’re sitting on Hoseok and Namjoon’s couch, Hoseok with his computer propped on his folded knees, his email inbox reflected in his oversized glasses. Namjoon is out with Sarang, and Hoseok’s official story via text was that he wanted to stay home and get some work done instead of going with them, but then the house was too quiet to work, so he needed company.

More likely, Yoongi thinks, Hoseok wanted an excuse to get Yoongi out of the house and stop moping. But that’s fine, because Yoongi kind of wanted the excuse too.

“It’s not stupid,” Hoseok snaps in that way he has. It’s always reminded Yoongi of the way small birds argue, in deliberate chirps, sharp-beaked and chasing each other between trees with quick little wing-beats. Yoongi feels flapped-at. “You connected with someone and they left. No matter how short the connection was, it felt good, and you couldn’t have it.” He looks at Yoongi sharply again, like he’s trying to make a point. “It sucks, hyung. And you can wallow about it for as long as you’d like, because it sucks, and I am forcing you to stop downplaying it.”

Yoongi feels his cheeks going pink, and he opens his mouth to argue, but another look from Hoseok shuts him up. He rolls his eyes and crosses his arms petulantly. Hoseok scoffs at him.

Taehyung’s been gone for a week. Yoongi really thinks he should be over it by now. Instead, he’s…under it. Maybe directly under it. It’s been a long time since he felt fixated on something like this, on someone. It was getting pathetic, wallowing over a particularly intense 4-day…thing.

“Well, it feels stupid,” he finally musters, grumbling and not looking at Hoseok.

“You think that loophole works on me? Ddaeng,” he says, miming hitting Yoongi over the head with a toy hammer. “The feeling’s wrong.”

“Is nagging your love language?” Yoongi asks back with narrowed eyes.

“I consider it an act of service,” Hoseok answers matter-of-factly, sounding unconcerned and looking back at his computer screen.

His demeanor changes, though, when the front door opens and Namjoon walks in with Sarang at his heels. He perks up like a dog, a grin spreading on his face. “Oh, they decided to come back after all,” he says dramatically, letting his voice carry loudly. “I thought they’d left me for good.”

Sarang giggles as she balances on one foot, Namjoon bending to take her little shoes off one by one. “Hi appa, hi uncle Yoongi!” She calls out in her little voice. Yoongi waves over to her happily.

“We missed you too much,” Namjoon calls back. “Sarang wanted to leave you behind, though.”

“That sounds like her,” Hoseok responds, laughing to himself as he looks at his computer again.

“We got ice cream!” Sarang contributes.

Hoseok gasps, holding an animated hand to his mouth. It’s enough even to make Yoongi’s lips twitch up into a smile. “No!” He calls.

“Yes!” Sarang says back, nodding insistently. “Chocolate.”

“Yummy,” Hoseok sing-songs in a cutesy voice, looking over to her with a smile. She’s padding over as Namjoon takes his own shoes off, tidying the row of shoes by the front door, and Hoseok reaches a hand out to take her hand as soon as she gets close enough. “Did you have fun outside?”

Sarang nods, squeezing onto his hand before she clambers up onto the couch between Yoongi and Hoseok. “We saw cats.”

Five cats,” Namjoon adds, giving Sarang a big gesture toward his hand holding up five fingers. Yoongi likes how having a small child around always makes group conversations a little like a children’s show, Namjoon and Hoseok emphasizing number words and letter names.

“Wow, that’s a lot of cats,” Hoseok says, nodding at her genuinely. She nods back, looking serious. “Appa says nobody loves them.”

“No,” Namjoon argues wearily, walking over to them. “I said they don’t have a house, so they don’t live with people who take care of them. I bet people love them.”

“I love them,” Sarang repeats, looking focused on this.

“We’ve been talking a lot about the cats,” Namjoon informs Yoongi and Hoseok with a patient look. He’s full of patience. “Hello by the way, hyung.”

“What colors were they?” Yoongi asks her, hoping it will get her away from her more existential questions about the lives of stray cats.

Sarang gets her fingers ready to count before she starts talking, and then she lists colors one by one, with enough time between them that Yoongi isn’t sure if she’s remembering or making it up. He smiles at her as she speaks, giving her the word “calico” when she needs it. After her busy morning, it doesn’t take much more conversation before she starts to look sleepy on the couch, her eyes drifting closed between her interjections.

“Sarangie, let’s take you to bed for a little while, huh?” Namjoon says gently. He gets up from his own spot on the armchair nearby, walks over to her and reaches down to pick her up. He hauls her up into his arms, patting her hair a little as she nods sleepily.

“Wow, so strong,” Hoseok says in a voice Yoongi knows is flirtatious, looking Namjoon up and down.

“Calm down,” Yoongi complains mildly.

Namjoon, for his part, just looks a little pink, smiling to himself as he ignores them both and takes Sarang off toward her bedroom for a nap.

“So it seems like you were productive,” Namjoon says to Hoseok when he walks back in the room, gesturing toward Yoongi.

“He’s been very productive,” Yoongi says. “He’s responded to several emails and won’t stop aggressively affirming me.”

“That actually sounds pretty successful, yeah,” Namjoon agrees, sitting back down.

“Tell him it’s not stupid to still be sad about Taehyung,” Hoseok says, waving his hand at Namjoon as if to hurry him up in the task.

Namjoon furrows his eyebrows, looking at Yoongi. “Of course it’s not stupid. You liked him. It’s sad.”

“You guys are so annoying,” Yoongi complains without any bite in his voice, defeated.

So annoying,” Hoseok agrees in a dull voice, clicking around his computer screen again. “Why can’t we let you just be mean to yourself in peace all the time? We’re awful.”

“Fine,” Yoongi says, cutting him off, because he will keep going, Yoongi knows. “Fine, it’s all justified, and I’m allowed to be depressed for eight months that this stupid guy left the country. Whatever. It’s still annoying. I wish I could skip it.”

“Isn’t the messy sad part kind of the most fun part, though?” Hoseok asks.

“Is it?” Namjoon asks him, eyebrows raised.

“I mean,” Hoseok says, shrugging, “Not fun. But I don’t know. It’s a free pass to be a little messy and impulsive. Go…hook up with someone. Or call out from work. Or go on a vacation. Or get a piercing.”

“You’re fascinating,” Namjoon comments. “If we broke up, would you just immediately dye your hair or something?”

“No, I would have my sister beat you up,” Hoseok replies easily.

“She would win,” Namjoon complains in response. “I know,” Hoseok tells him.

Yoongi just frowns at him. “I don’t want to go on a vacation or get a piercing.”

“You looked cute with all those earrings you used to wear, I miss them,” Hoseok tells him with a little pout.

“Seok-ah,” Yoongi chides mildly. “That’s not the point.” Hoseok holds his hands up in front of himself, conciliatory.

“Sorry,” he says. “I know I’m being ridiculous. I mean it, though, about distracting yourself.”

“I’m not sure that full distraction is like…healthy,” Namjoon offers. “Or possible. But some distraction is probably not a bad idea.”

Yoongi has never been good at distraction. Hoseok is, he knows — it’s how Hoseok thrives, by compartmentalizing, by neatly arranging his feelings. Yoongi is good at focusing, at turning something over and over in his mind until he reaches a conclusion he’s satisfied with.

Still, Yoongi nods at Namjoon. He’s right, after all. It would be great to put this down for a little while.

He stays for dinner, helps chop vegetables and sits with Sarang to play a game with her, and that’s a good start.

When he gets home, his apartment quiet and the noise of Namjoon and Hoseok behind him, he impresses himself when he thinks of a new distraction on the spot. Staring at a line of dust on a shelf near the door of his apartment, he suddenly has the urge to get a rag. To start cleaning.

For the first time since he met Taehyung, Yoongi thinks he’s had a good idea.

 

For another week, Yoongi works, and when he’s not working, he’s cleaning. A deep clean, the kind he hasn’t done since he moved into this place years ago. He washes the walls, makes his arms sore with it, cleans underneath of his appliances, mops, sorts through his closet and donates a trash bag full of clothes.

It’s when he’s dusting the bookshelves in his bedroom that he has to move his collections of notebooks. He got into the habit of saving them all almost fifteen years ago, his notepads full of scrawled lyrics, or poetry, even some strewn journal entries. He used to have so much to say all the time, when he was nineteen and bursting with energy, that he would go through a whole journal every couple months. Sitting on the floor of his bedroom with the stack in front of him, he glances over to his desk, where the same yellow legal pad has sat for the last two years collecting errant scraps of writing slowly enough that he’s only halfway through it.

It’s bad enough, the residual guilt when he thinks about a younger version of himself who made music because he thought he needed it to breathe. It makes it worse when he thinks about Taehyung flying around the world on a loose shimmer of hope at making it as an artist. Like it’s easy.

Yoongi’s glad that he’s not still a twenty year old, or twenty-five year old, who scraps by on coffee fumes and the rush of getting on a stage at a club and getting to perform. He had too much going on then — a burning kind of angst and shit-kicking energy that drove him out of his family home and across the country to Seoul, to do something like making it. So many thoughts kicking around in his brain at all times, so convinced at how smart he was. He grew up a lot over six or seven years working midnight food delivery shifts, living in rusted, leaking apartments with bad roommates and cockroaches, but he made it as difficult as possible for himself.

He told himself, almost a decade ago when his brother was stretched too thin with a slowly failing business, when he realized how much difference it would make if he just helped, that he would keep making music. And he has. At a slower pace, over the years, but he pushed himself to keep going. It’s just that he’ll never feel as good at it as he did when he was twenty-two, when he stayed up all night, wearing himself to the bone just because it felt so good to get something out of his head and onto paper. To put together the skeleton of a song, to let the rhythm come to him, to experiment when everything was new. It’s harder these days. Maybe he’s been avoiding it too much, let his regrets pile up too high to stomach it.

Yoongi thinks of Taehyung again, of him listing different mediums he’s tried over the years, and feels jealous. Wonders what it’s like to be a person who moved like water, who could let themselves flow instead of burning bright and fast and fizzling out like a match.

Something’s sparked in him now, though, he thinks. Yoongi picks himself up, leaving the stack of notebooks sitting in front of the bookshelf, and sits down at his desk instead. He thumbs though the last few pages of his notepad, filled up in the last two weeks; he’s been writing more, but he still hasn’t gone past stream of consciousness ramblings, a few couplets of something that could be song lyrics on the sides of the page. He hasn’t been brave enough to try to think of anything resembling melody, to try to turn this into something real.

He thinks of the bag of donated clothes, though, and has a thought. He turns his computer on, clicking open his files and into his folders and subfolders of music projects collected over the years, all backed up to different hard drives just in case. He used to put music on Soundcloud, when he was at his most ambitious, but he only has a couple dozen or so truly complete tracks. Nothing compared to the hundred plus files of music sitting here, snippets of different ideas at different stages of completion. It’s been a long time since he sifted through it properly, hasn’t it?

Yoongi should know right then that the dust rags will be abandoned — he’s found a new distraction.

++

It’s been almost six weeks since Taehyung left. It’s three in the morning. Those thoughts flickered through Yoongi’s head one after the other as he glanced at the time and date display on his desktop. He adjusts his glasses in front of his computer monitor, hoping the blue light filter is doing something, at least.

Yoongi thinks maybe he gets what Hoseok was trying to tell him, about the messy part. He’s just not the kind of person who indulges in chaotic impulse very often — after all, that’s how he got here, isn’t it? Wasn’t Taehyung just one big chaotic impulse? This, running on low sleep just so he can spend longer behind his audio software, falling into bad habits for the sake of making something over and over until he likes it — this is more his speed.

His body has been trying to tell him that he’s a little too old for this, but that hasn’t stopped him from staying up until sunrise for the last few days. And honestly, it feels a little refreshing, letting himself be a mess. He’s a very functional mess, he thinks, unlike when he used to live like this full-time. It feels good to break the rules, the healthy habits he’s learned actually do make you feel better over the years. Just a little break from responsibility, from sleep health and good posture and no caffeine at night.

Yoongi clicks around on the software in front of him, tweaking a few things, and then presses play from the beginning again. He’s written a handful of songs (or at least most-of songs) in the last few weeks, taken bits and pieces of old melody lines scavenged from his hard drive and used them as jumping off points. He’s worked on this one the most, though.

A mid-tempo beat plays, sound layered until it feels fuzzy and warm. Underneath the music, slightly muffled, his own voice asks, “Are people going to listen to this?” It sounds almost like a recording of a phone call. Then Taehyung’s voice, light: “If you’re interesting.” Yoongi has heard it on repeat enough times that he barely thinks about the smirk he knows was on Taehyung’s lips when he said it.

More instruments fill in then, slowly, as Yoongi’s voice sighs and says, “I don’t…where do I start?” Then, almost gentle, Taehyung’s voice offers, “Start from when you first saw me.” There’s the click of a phone hanging up, and the fuzziness of the sound clears, snapping into sharp focus as the lyrics begin.

It’s a song about passing love, almost-missed connections, and it came together so easily in a way that felt rare for him. It made him feel young, the intuitive way he pieced the song together, but he knew a younger version of him couldn’t have made it. That felt good.

He wrote it thinking about Taehyung’s hand in his and the tease in his voice, and the way that some people are like dry kindling, the way they can light you up so easily.

His last verse fades out, back into a fuzzy instrumental interlude. A saxophone line fades out, and a violin comes in, the tempo slowing into something dreamier. “Was I good?” Yoongi’s fuzzy voice asks, and then the telephone clicks again and the song ends.

Yoongi nods to himself decisively, feeling accomplished. It’s too personal, but he decided he doesn’t care. He likes it, and it’s just for him right now. He’ll like it more later, when he fine-tunes exactly what he wants it to sound like, but it’s been a long time since he was so proud of something so early in creating it.

He yawns, stretching back in his chair and hearing his joints crack twice on the way. The exhaustion hits him all at once, the way it’s prone to. He’ll snap out of this soon, he thinks, but for right now, he’ll take the feeling of satisfaction.

Satisfaction has been hard to come by lately, Yoongi thinks as he stretches in his desk chair. His mind wanders to the small string of one night stands he’s managed in the last few weeks, the way they all felt…disappointing. Yoongi doesn’t expect a lot from casual sex in general, but they were all borderline unenjoyable. The last guy was painfully boring.The one before that was too mean, in a way that stopped being attractive very quickly. His libido isn’t usually high enough to convince him to cruise for casual sex this often, but he just wants…he sighs, stretching his arms and his upper back, twisting his torso from side to side slightly. Release, he guesses.

So he’ll take it where he can get it. He saves his work in progress again, old careful habit, before turning his computer off and letting his eyes rest closed. His muscles relax for a moment, and he lets out an exhale. He’s glad exhaustion doesn’t equate to accomplishment in his mind anymore, but sometimes it still feels good.

++

After almost two months of Taehyung being gone, Yoongi finds he thinks about him most when he’s horny. He’s not sure if that’s really a testament to how good the sex was, or if it’s just easier to try to push the emotional baggage aside, to make more room for thinking about Taehyung’s hands on him.

It’s been a long day, Yoongi thinks in the shower. He worked a double shift at work, covering for wait staff after too many call outs; he spilled a prep container of chopped garlic on his shirt two hours into his shift, so he’s smelled like garlic juice for eight hours; his feet hurt, his back hurts. And it’s a sort of idyllic daydream he paints for himself under the run of hot water, where there’s someone around to fuck him well enough to make him forget that today happened.

It’s the kind of thought he doesn’t feel like doing anything with — even getting off feels like too much effort. But it hangs in the back of his mind, the flash of a memory of Taehyung’s dark eyes looking up at him through his long eyelashes, his big hands on Yoongi’s thighs, the tip of his tongue licking his lips. All of it feels exaggerated after so many weeks of his mind lingering on the memories, and maybe that isn’t helping things.

Yoongi sighs to himself as he steps out of the shower, toweling himself off. All in all, he’s doing alright, isn’t he? He doesn’t feel so bogged down with the whole thing anymore, even if it does still occupy his thoughts more often than he thinks it should. It’s hard for it not to — he’s not sure he’s lived through a single week that felt more noteworthy in years. But he’s not as sad anymore, and that feels better. He’s making plenty of time to see his friends, he’s making music more than he has in a long time, and he thinks that’s helped a lot. He’s doing alright. He’s allowed to think about Taehyung pressing him into a bed, or against a wall.

He gets dressed, puts his towel away, shuffles through the little tasks he’s required to. It’s in search of a distraction that he grabs his phone from his counter, but when he sees the notification waiting for him, he thinks for a second that maybe he’s created a hallucination through sheer force of will.

  
    hyung, did you keep my number?
i’m in seoul
  

Yoongi stares at his phone, at the contact name “Kim Taehyung.” Twenty-eight minutes ago. He blinks, waits for this to be a mind-addled mirage, but the notification is still sitting there.

And it’s not really entirely through conscious choice, but before he knows it, he’s typing a reply.

    
      for how long?
    
  
He presses send, and then he swears under his breath. Stupid. Desperate. He could have let that sit longer before he replied, just for his own pride. And why does he want to know, anyway? Just to hurt his own feelings? Just to —

His phone vibrates, and a reply pops up on his screen.

  
    indefinitely
  

And that’s like a meteor crashing right into him. Indefinitely? What does that mean? What does it mean to someone like Taehyung, who seems to be just endlessly drifting through until he lands on something better? This won’t be worth it for another little heartbreak in two weeks.

But he’s not going to get his heart broken. Right? He already sort of did that, and he got over it. He barely knows the man. And Taehyung’s sitting at his phone waiting for Yoongi to reply, texting him back in seconds at eleven PM on a Wednesday — maybe this isn’t about romance. Maybe Yoongi’s not the only one who’s been turning half-lit memories of the press of their skin together over and over in his mind. Fuck it.

    
      i’m at home. come over?
    
  
Fuck, Yoongi thinks when he opens his door. He really was that pretty.

“Hi,” Taehyung offers with half of a grin. It seems sheepish. He doesn’t remember seeing that expression much on Taehyung’s face, and it’s a momentary surprise.

“Hey,” Yoongi says back. He’s not sure what they’re supposed to say to each other, now that they’re face to face. He catches himself though, backs away from the door and gestures for Taehyung to come in.

Taehyung shrugs his jacket off, kicks his shoes off into a neat line, and Yoongi has to turn around and walk away to keep himself from staring. It’s surreal, to fixate on the thought of someone in retrospect for months and have them appear again.

“You want a drink?” Yoongi asks, to be polite but also to give himself something to do.

“Water?”

Yoongi nods. “Water.”

He walks off to the kitchen to busy his hands with the task. By the time he turns back around with filled glasses in his hand, Taehyung is hovering near the doorway, finger outstretched toward a shelf of weird knick knacks he’s accumulated over the years. It’s like seeing deja vu, a developed photo laid held under the shadow of the negative, the way it reminds him of that afternoon they got caught in the rain, when Yoongi made him tea.

Taehyung looks over at him and he blinks, starts moving again after realizing he was still with the surprise of it. He steps forward, offers Taehyung a glass wordlessly, and brings his own to his lips.

“How have you been?” Taehyung asks, breaking their silence. Yoongi looks him over, weighs his response. He doesn’t really feel like jumping into honesty at the moment.

“What did you come here for?” Yoongi asks back. One corner of Taehyung’s lips twitch, and Yoongi hates it.

Taehyung holds his gaze steadily, unflinching, and god, it’s exactly what he remembers it was. He wasn’t making it up, the way each of their stubbornness grits against the other’s, a metallic grind into sparks. “What did you want me to come here for?”

Yoongi crosses one of his arms over his chest, gives Taehyung a once-over. He’s in a vintage-y looking cardigan buttoned up, worn as a shirt, a pair of oversized slacks, and his hair is hanging in loose waves around his face as he tousles a hand through it. Yoongi thinks it’s shorter now, which is a shame. His eyes catch on a necklace, a silver chain with pastel heart charms dangling around his throat. He looks good, undeniably, and it’s frustrating to know that Taehyung knows it. Yoongi licks his lips, decides to cut their back and forth off. “To fuck me.” He watches for a change in Taehyung’s expression. The minute raise of his eyebrows is enough for Yoongi to feel the rush of a small win.

He recovers quickly, though. “Sure,” Taehyung says, taking another drink of his water before setting it down on Yoongi’s table. “I can do that.”

Yoongi doesn’t think about the way he knows this is a stupid thing to do, about all the time he’s spent trying to convince himself to move on from this. Instead, he sets his own glass down, and walks over to Taehyung, stepping into a kiss without hesitating. He lets his impulse win for once; he wonders what Hoseok would think.

It’s a good fucking kiss. He wishes it wasn’t. Part of him was still hoping that maybe he had inflated all of this in his memory, that maybe it wasn’t as good as he was painting it in his most indulgent moments. Taehyung’s got an arm around his waist, one hand on the small of his back and the other on Yoongi’s jaw, grip steady, and Yoongi already wishes he was touching him more. Goddamn it does he want this, more of the electric feeling of Taehyung against him, to get him out of that little sweater, to dig his nails into Taehyung’s skin and make it sting a little.

They kiss frantically in Yoongi’s kitchen, an electric buzz humming around them like a live wire. Yoongi grips a hand into Taehyung’s hair, pulls a little because he remembers that he likes it. Sure enough, Taehyung breathes a little gasp against Yoongi’s lips, and Yoongi has to hold himself back from smirking. Taehyung’s hand on Yoongi’s back slips further down, teasing against the waistband of Yoongi’s sweatpants. Yoongi presses closer against him, pulls back from their kiss to open his eyes and waits for Taehyung to do the same, enjoying the dopy sort of look Taehyung has when he does. “Touch me,” he tells Taehyung, no bashfulness or flirtation in his voice. Just honest direction.

Taehyung nods at him, and his hand pushes down the curve of Yoongi’s ass, gripping at his skin through the thin fabric of his underwear. His fingers trace down slowly, wrist pressing against the waistband of his pants. “Take your clothes off,” Taehyung says quietly.

“Don’t tell me what to do,” Yoongi mutters, but he reaches down at the hem of his shirt to start pulling it off anyway.

“I haven’t earned it?” Taehyung asks him, voice teasing in a shit-eating kind of way. His hand comes back up, strokes at the small of Yoongi’s back. And something about the tension in the air cracks at that, the quiet and the nervousness of the way they were handling each other at arm’s length. It feels like they’ve sidestepped butting heads and found a different game to play instead, a back and forth chase.

Yoongi gives him an unimpressed look through his eyelashes as he wiggles back from Taehyung to step out of his pants. “Don’t get cute.”

Taehyung’s biting down on a little smile, amused with himself. “Do you still think I’m cute?”

“I think,” Yoongi starts, pulling at the waistband of his underwear and letting them fall on the floor, standing naked in his kitchen with his clothes at his feet, “That you should do something useful and take your pants off.”

“Why?” Taehyung asks, but he starts unbuckling his belt as soon as Yoongi says it. “You gonna blow me next to your dining table?”

“No,” Yoongi says decisively. “You think I want to give you the power like that?”

Taehyung pauses, looking up from the fly of his pants at Yoongi with amusement. “Oh, if you want all the power, I’m always happy to give it to you.”

“Really?” Yoongi asks, not believing him. What is this, their back and forth that was so easy to pick back up, if not a slight grapple for power? For the last word, for the knockout blow to make the other shut up?

“Sure. You could tie me up if you wanted, hands behind my back,” Taehyung says, eyes too earnest. Yoongi can’t even keep track of whether or not they’re talking about sex anymore.

“Jesus christ,” Yoongi mutters, and Taehyung stifles a little laugh.

He’s telling the truth, isn’t he? Yoongi looks him over, thinks about the sharp edge to Taehyung’s smile. He doesn’t want the power. He doesn’t need to win. He just wants to make Yoongi react. He blinks to himself, wishing that realization didn’t make his gut burn with want — wishing that it didn’t work. He steps back, away from the pile of his clothes next to Taehyung’s newly dropped trousers and black underwear. “Come on,” he says, taking a few more steps back toward the hallway to his bedroom. “I don’t need prep.”

Taehyung’s eyebrows twitch upward and he looks Yoongi over. Yoongi doesn’t think about why — instead he does the same to Taehyung, to his long legs and the strawberry on his hip and his half-hard cock, resting just below the hem of his buttoned-up cardigan, the skin of his chest and his collarbones showing underneath it. The hearts on his necklace feel (stupidly, he admits) like a little knife twist. God, Yoongi wants him to fuck him already. Taehyung’s hands move to the buttons of his sweater to take that off too, but Yoongi waves him off.

“Leave it,” he says, and then he turns and walks down the hallway. For once, Taehyung doesn’t argue back, and just pads quietly behind him.

Yoongi’s path is decisive as he walks over to his nightstand drawer, grabbing a condom and setting it next to the bottle of lube that already takes up residence on top of it. He turns around to see Taehyung looking at him, maybe at his ass before he turned around. Maybe that would mean something to him if he had the physical capacity to be any hornier than he is currently, but as it is, he doesn’t have much of a reaction. Instead he just steps back over toward Taehyung, presses into him with another kiss. Yoongi gets a hand on Taehyung’s side, sliding up under his little sweater, and when he curls his fingertips in so his nails are scratching lightly against Taehyung’s skin, Taehyung gasps into his mouth.

Yoongi thinks of the night he met Taehyung, the thought barging into his mind unbidden, the way both of them were a little tipsy and breathing loud in Taehyung’s bedroom. His constant thought process of fuck, he’s hot, fuck, he’s hot, the way by the time they were taking their clothes off, he wanted Taehyung so badly that he felt like he was losing his mind. He ended up underneath Taehyung, his hair hanging down prettily over his face above Yoongi; he remembers the way Taehyung ducked down in the middle to press a kiss to his cheek, his jaw, his nose, and the way it almost startled him out of the mood before Taehyung thrust in again and got him right back.

He doesn’t want that tonight. “Lay on the bed,” he tells Taehyung in a breathy voice, pulling back from their kiss. His eyes get caught on the wet of Taehyung’s lips, but when he glances up he sees the dark of his eyes. Taehyung just nods, steps backward and sort of tosses himself unceremoniously on Yoongi’s unmade bed. Yoongi licks his own lips at the sight of him, splayed out. He wants this.

“Can I take this off now?” Taehyung asks him, tugging at one of the buttons of his sweater.

“Yeah,” Yoongi answers, kneeling on the bed next to him. “I think so.” While Taehyung’s hands are busy with his buttons, Yoongi reaches over to rest a hand on his leg, fingertips grazing upward until they can grip into the soft meat of his inner thigh. He lets his nails dig in, just a little, and watches Taehyung stumble with his button. He feels fucking carnivorous. As Taehyung finally shrugs his sweater off, Yoongi feels himself losing patience, and he repositions himself as smoothly as he’s able to, straddling Taehyung’s thighs underneath him.

“Oh,” Taehyung mutters, blinking up at him with his stupid eyelashes, his stupid hair lying prettily around his face. “Yeah. Definitely.” Ugh, Yoongi wants to kiss him.

Instead he chases an urge that’s more comfortable, moving a hand to grip Taehyung’s jaw lightly. Taehyung’s lips part slightly like it’s on instinct, and Yoongi files that information away, not sure what to do with it. He moves his hand slowly, down Taehyung’s throat, tugging on one of the hearts of his necklace briefly, his chest, soft skin of his stomach, until it rests just above the head of his cock. Yoongi lets a fingertip drift back and forth there, and when Taehyung twitches underneath him, it feels too satisfying. “Hand me the lube?” Yoongi asks, glancing over to where it’s sitting, just in reach of Taehyung’s hand. Taehyung follows instructions, grabs it and hands it off to Yoongi with a focused look on his face.

Yoongi uncaps it, lets some drip on his fingers, and looks back down at Taehyung when he closes it and sets it down. “You’re not touching me,” he points out.

“Stupid of me,” Taehyung mutters, his hand moving instantly to spread across one of Yoongi’s thighs. Thank god. In return, Yoongi brings his slicked hand down to grip loosely at the head of Taehyung’s cock. Taehyung’s hand grips into Yoongi’s thigh in surprise. Yoongi can’t help but smirking a little bit, letting his hand grip down the length of Taehyung’s dick slow and steady.

They go slow for a minute like that, Taehyung’s hands drifting up and down as much of Yoongi’s body as he can reach, Yoongi stroking him just slow enough to be a little tortuous. And god, it feels good, all of it; it feels easy and hot, addictive. Taehyung stops him eventually, his voice weak when he says, “Hyung.”

Yoongi’s eyes snap to Taehyung’s face, and he sees him with eyes dark, lips pink from biting at them. He wishes he didn’t like the way Taehyung said hyung like that. He stills his hand, pulls it back, waits for Taehyung to say whatever he’s going to say.

“Scoot up,” Taehyung tells him, propping himself up on an elbow. Yoongi takes a knelt step forward, straddled higher over Taehyung’s waist. With his free hand, Taehyung grabs for the lube sitting on the bed, but Yoongi beats him to it, taking it and holding it over Taehyung’s hand to help him pour it. Taehyung brings his hand to Yoongi’s dick then, and Yoongi almost groans, it feels so good to be touched properly. He can feel Taehyung’s dick twitch behind him, and fuck, Yoongi doesn’t know the last time he was looking forward to sex this much.

Taehyung strokes him, grip steady, and he can feel Taehyung’s eyes on him. Yoongi doesn’t have the nerve to look back, so he closes his eyes, tips his head back at the feeling. He can’t take it for very long, so worked up as-is, so he pulls his hips back a little, disrupting Taehyung’s movement. He spreads his legs further, reaches down and takes Taehyung’s hand off his dick, pushes it lower, between his legs.

“Fuck,” Taehyung mutters. Yoongi doesn’t respond, just leans forward, plants his hands on the bed on either side of Taehyung to give him more room. Taehyung’s hand reaches back, his fingers pressing at Yoongi’s entrance, and Yoongi exhales loudly. He looks down, finds Taehyung looking up at him with that same focused look, like he’s paying rapt attention. It’s a little too much, his gaze heavy, but Yoongi doesn’t want to tell him to stop. They’re still looking at each other when Taehyung’s fingertip presses into Yoongi, wet with lube, and Yoongi’s eyes screw closed again. The slide is easy; it’s nice to know that the stupid purple dildo that’s been suction cupped to his shower wall for weeks has served a greater purpose.

“You been doing this a lot lately?” Taehyung asks him, voice low, and in surprise, Yoongi’s eyes blink open. Taehyung’s looking at him with that look he gets, unnervingly honest, but it’s all caught up in want. Open desire. Yoongi feels a chill go down his spine at it.

“None of your business,” he huffs, pressing his hips back so Taehyung goes deeper. It’s not enough. Taehyung smirks a little, and Yoongi would blush, maybe, if he wasn’t already flushed pink all over. Taehyung’s second finger slips inside of him, and it’s still not enough. “Not really,” Yoongi adds, like that earned Taehyung the truth. It’s not the whole truth, anyway. That would require Yoongi to say No one’s been as good as you, and he would rather die than admit that right now.

Taehyung just hums in response. He brings his free hand up to graze up Yoongi’s thigh, up his hipbone, up and back down. His fingers edge closer to Yoongi’s dick, his other hand pressing into him in shallow thrusts, and Yoongi feels like he’s on fire.

Taehyung looks up at him from where he’s lying against Yoongi’s bed, and Yoongi picks himself up off his hands, putting all his weight on his knees resting at either side of Taehyung’s waist. Gives him more to look at, and more leverage for Taehyung to go deeper inside him.

He watches Taehyung’s eyes trail up and down his body, thinks again about power. It’s not something he needs in sex, usually, but Taehyung showing up at his door out of the blue has made him a little sensitive over it. A little defensive, unwilling to let go of his control over the situation. It would feel too much like admitting he still likes him. Because of course he does. Fucking idiot. God, he needs Taehyung inside of him so maybe he can stop thinking.

“Just fuck me,” he says finally, voice impatient even through the shake threatening at the edges of it.

“You could ask nicely,” Taehyung responds. Yoongi glares at him with so much force that Taehyung actually laughs. “I was kidding,” he defends himself.

“Condom,” Yoongi responds, no time for him.

“Yes, your highness,” Taehyung replies, twisting to grab it. “Your majesty. Oppa. Hyung.”

“Shut the fuck up,” Yoongi snaps, but there’s no heat in his voice.

“You’re in the way of me putting this on,” Taehyung replies, waving the condom in front of Yoongi, seemingly unbothered. Yoongi can’t fault him there, he supposes. He hauls himself off to the side, giving his thighs a break for a moment. Lying on his side, he brings one of his hands to trail down Taehyung’s body again, nails dragging lightly down his skin.Taehyung shivers under his touch, lets out a shaky breath as his eyes slip closed for a moment.

“You’re still fucking pretty,” Yoongi mutters, mostly to himself. Taehyung’s eyes open, eyelashes fluttering toward him, and he says, “You are too. I really do like your nose.”

“You’re ruining the mood,” Yoongi complains lightly. His fingers trail gently down to the side of his cock, inching toward it with a light touch. Taehyung trembles a little.

“You feel so good, look so good like this. You’ve got a pretty little cock,” Taehyung says, looking at him with half-lidded eyes. “Is that better?”

Yoongi’s hand stills and he gives Taehyung a look. “I don’t think it’s little.

“I think it’s like, perfectly blowjob-sized,” Taehyung says. “From memory, anyway.”

That gives Yoongi another reason to pause. “Have you been remembering it, then?” He asks. His hand picks back up, fingers finally wrapping around Taehyung’s dick again. He’s hoping the touch will surprise Taehyung into closing his eyes again, but it doesn’t work. Taehyung holds his gaze steady, licks his lips. His voice is breathy when he says, matter-of-factly, “Yes.”

Yoongi’s grip tightens on Taehyung’s dick and he pumps him harder a few times, enough for Taehyung’s back to arch up off the bed. “Condom?” He asks again, extending his hand, and Taehyung hands it over to him shakily. Yoongi makes quick work of opening it, tired of the way they can’t stop fucking talking to each other. It’s difficult on more levels than one; he’s trying to ignore the gnawing feeling in his stomach reminding him just how much he liked this. He pulls himself back up onto his knees, leaning over Taehyung to roll the condom down onto him, before he hoists himself over to straddle Taehyung’s hips again.

Yoongi reaches down to angle Taehyung’s dick, does the always slightly awkward guesswork to line them up properly, but then — Yoongi lets out a sigh as the head of Taehyung’s cock presses into him. Finally. He lowers himself down slowly, savoring it. Underneath him, Taehyung lets out a soft groan. He reaches a hand up to grab Yoongi’s hip, fingers gripping into his skin, and then he reaches further back to grab Yoongi’s ass as it lowers to rest against the top of Taehyung’s thigh. Finally, he thinks again. And then, More.

Yoongi leans back, hands propped on the bed behind him, and rocks his hips backward slowly just to rock them forward again, pushing Taehyung back into him with a little slap of skin that makes his brain feel momentarily scrambled. It’s a slow grind at first, Yoongi pushing his hips forward and pulling them back, Taehyung’s hands gripping him tight, but after a few minutes of that, Taehyung’s hand drifts up higher on Yoongi’s waist. His hand feels big on Yoongi’s body, his grip strong, and he pulls Yoongi forward and off of the support of his hands behind him. Yoongi follows his lead, lets himself lean forward instead. He moves his hands so they’re planted on either side of Taehyung’s head, spreads his legs to lean down lower over Taehyung’s body.

Taehyung’s hand moves back to Yoongi’s ass, gripping tight enough that he spreads Yoongi a little bit, and then Taehyung moves his own hips, coming up off the bed to pump upward into him. Yoongi stumbles down onto one of his elbows at the impact of it, gasping sharply, and he looks down to see Taehyung’s face up close, eyes dark, lips parted, pretty. Yoongi keeps his hips moving, forward and back, his cock thrusting against Taehyung’s stomach at this angle, and Taehyung’s hips work in turn, keeping their rhythm. Yoongi’s stomach is warm, his fingers digging into his sheets as he pants roughly against Taehyung’s shoulder.

“You close?” Taehyung breathes near Yoongi’s ear. Yoongi just manages a nod, body rocking back and forth, the two of them getting more clumsy now, desperate. “Thank god,” Taehyung groans. He grabs both sides of Yoongi’s hips and helps him move, pushing and pulling him to make his thrusts deeper, harder. Yoongi can feel precome on their stomachs, his dick getting more and more sensitive the closer he gets. On a hard thrust, Taehyung’s hips freeze, and Yoongi can feel him pulsing inside of him, can’t get enough of the feeling. Taehyung lets out a choked gasp, a whine from the back of his throat, and his legs shake with it before his hips lower back down onto the bed. His dick is still throbbing, his eyes pressed closed, and Yoongi is so turned on he could die.

Yoongi pushes himself back up to kneel shakily, Taehyung still inside him, and Taehyung squirms and gasps underneath him at the movement. Yoongi lets his hips stay still, bringing a hand to his own dick and stroking himself hard and quick, while Taehyung’s still hard and filling him up. “Fuck,” Taehyung mutters, but Yoongi barely even registers it, too busy chasing after relief, blood rushing in his ears. It doesn’t take long before he bursts, knees trying to press together on either side of Taehyung’s body, thighs clenched and chest heaving as he comes. He shakes with the force of it, has to catch himself from falling down on top of Taehyung, whose hands keep gripping into Yoongi’s skin as he clenches around him. He squirms, oversensitive, Yoongi bets, but Taehyung hasn’t asked him to move.

When the crest of his orgasm finally passes, his erection flagging, Yoongi pulls himself up on shaky legs to let Taehyung fall out of him. Taehyung lets out a shuddering breath, thighs clenching together at the feeling as Yoongi lets himself fall to his side on the bed again, and it sparks something hungry in the back of Yoongi’s mind that he doesn’t know what to do with. He has a faraway wish for endless time like this, as many tries as they want to break each other down, make each other come, for Yoongi to see if Taehyung likes being pushed past his limit as much as he seems to.

They don’t have endless time, though, so his brain latches onto a more realistic fantasy, wonders if they could manage a second round. He wouldn’t mind switching, seeing Taehyung on all fours and desperate; he wouldn’t mind Taehyung sucking him off, gripping him by the hair while he did, tears in Taehyung’s eyelashes. He wouldn’t mind having sex about a thousand more times in a thousand more ways, right this second.

Yoongi lets out a long exhale, bringing an arm up over his face, the crook of his elbow covering his eyes. Next to him, Taehyung seems to be feeling the same, if the deep breath he takes is any indication. Yoongi’s trying not to say You’re better than I remembered and not just mean the sex, but all of it. Yoongi’s trying not to kiss him, slow and still-smoldering. Then Taehyung turns, slings an arm over Yoongi’s middle and presses a kiss to his shoulder, and Yoongi’s broken out of his thoughts by the reminder that the last time they did this, it ended in songs about heartbreak on a small scale.

“Taehyung,” Yoongi says, voice a little hoarse. Taehyung mutters back against his skin, “Hmm?”

Yoongi tries to think of a tactful way to say it before he decides there really isn’t one. “I can’t cuddle with you right now,” he lands on, not brave enough to move his arm away from his eyes and look at him. Taehyung is still for a moment, and then he pulls back from Yoongi, rolls back over to lay next to him. He doesn’t say anything. Yoongi tries not to feel bad. To keep himself from saying anything stupid like I’m sorry, he says, “I want to talk. Just give me a minute.”

“Take your time. I’m gonna go clean up.” Taehyung sounds genuine, and that does make Yoongi move his arm to glance over at him. Taehyung is looking back, something questioning in it, and Yoongi doesn’t know what to make of it. He just nods, and after a moment, Taehyung rolls out of bed and walks in the direction of Yoongi’s bathroom.

Yoongi lets his head fall back onto the bed, resisting the urge to put a pillow on top of his face and disappear for a moment. This was so dumb. Why did he let himself have this? The doubt creeps in then, and he wonders how long Taehyung really will be in town, if he has a couch to crash on lined up in another city just in case, a rip cord out that leaves Yoongi standing alone again. Why did he let himself leap into this, so desperate for the free-fall feeling of release that he didn’t think about where he’d land?

Taehyung walks back in, pulls Yoongi out of his melodrama, and Yoongi doesn’t have time to ask any questions before Taehyung kneels down on the bed next to him, a small damp towel in his hand. He doesn’t ask, just starts wiping off Yoongi’s stomach, moving down between his legs. There’s a look on his face that’s too — something. Tender. Yoongi swallows nervously, but doesn’t stop him, lets Taehyung clean him up, his hands moving carefully.

“Nice dildo, by the way,” Taehyung says, and the tension breaks again, cracking away into something easier. Yoongi lets out a little huff of laughter at that, head falling back onto the bed.

“Do you want to go somewhere? Take a walk?” Yoongi asks, looking up at his ceiling.

Yoongi hears a whoosh and then a small thump of Taehyung throwing the towel toward the overflowing clothes hamper in the corner of his room. “I’d love that, actually. I’m still jetlagged.”

Yoongi props himself up on his elbows, looking over at Taehyung. “When did you get to Seoul?”

“This morning,” Taehyung tells him. Oh. So Yoongi was a day one stop. He swallows, nodding back at Taehyung.

“Let’s go to a convenience store,” Yoongi suggests, pulling himself up into a sitting position and running a hand through his hair. “I need a drink.”

 

It’s a cool night, but not enough to be cold. They both wear jackets as they walk down the quiet street, not many people out this late in Yoongi’s neighborhood. The air is quiet between them; they haven’t had much to say since they got dressed, like they’re saving it all for whatever conversation they’re about to have. Or maybe the sex just cleared their heads, got it out of their system.

Yoongi talks first, hands pushed into his pockets to keep the wind out. They have another block to walk, and Yoongi is tired of the silence. “So,” he starts, glancing over at Taehyung in his oversized denim jacket. “How was New York?”

“Interesting,” Taehyung replies. “I met a lot of people, a lot of artists. That was really cool. There are so many galleries, and the small-scale ones are really interesting. It was definitely…inspiring, I guess. I sold some stuff, even.”

“Good for you,” Yoongi says, genuine. That’s a good feeling.

“I’ll be honest,” Taehyung says, looking over at Yoongi with an embarrassed kind of smile. “I thought I would last longer. A year maybe, or at least six months. I didn’t think I would get so homesick.”

Yoongi turns to him, giving him an amused look. “What?” Taehyung asks.

“You dropped everything and moved across the world, Taehyung. I don’t think you need to be embarrassed that it was difficult. I think it’s still something to...I don’t know, be proud of, at least.”

Taehyung looks momentarily surprised by that, and he turns to look down at his feet for a moment, shy. Yoongi wishes it didn’t make him hungry to see more of him, to see different fractal sides of Taehyung like a gem under a magnifying glass.

They walk into the artificial light of the convenience store, the door chiming mechanically behind them, and Yoongi walks with purpose over to a refrigerator shelf full of beer. “You want one?” He asks Taehyung, and Taehyung nods, though he’s looking distractedly at a nearby shelf of snacks.

“How about you, hyung?” Taehyung asks him as he grabs a chocolate bar off the shelf. “What have you been up to?”

Yoongi grabs two cans of the beer, turns and starts to walk over to the bored-looking cashier behind the counter. He sets them down, reaches out a hand toward Taehyung to grab his candy bar and pay for it. “Oh, you know,” Yoongi says to him errantly. “This and that.”

Taehyung hums behind him, but doesn’t say more. Yoongi finishes his interaction with the cashier, nods to them in a goodbye greeting, and tosses Taehyung his candy bar again.

They sit at a small table outside the store, the sun umbrella folded down in the cool darkness.

“This and that,” Taehyung repeats as he takes his can of the beer and pops the tab open. Yoongi considers the full truth — that he deep-cleaned his entire apartment, wrote some music, and can’t stop fantasizing about Taehyung when he gets off. He thinks that classifies as this and that.

Some of it is less embarrassing than others, though, so for the sake of sharing, he says, “I’ve been making music more.” He takes a sip of his own beer, to give him something to do with his hands.

Taehyung raises his eyebrows, looking interested. “That’s great.”

Yoongi nods, tapping his fingers on the side of the can, considering. Why not, he figures. “I sampled your tape on a song.”

At that, Taehyung offers him a curious little smile that almost looks flattered. “Interesting. I’d like to hear it sometime.”

Yoongi huffs a little laugh to himself, thinking about the bared-open lyrics. “Maybe.”

They both drink from their respective cans, quiet for a moment in the noise of the city at night, the sound of people walking by. Finally, Yoongi musters up the nerve to ask what he’s wanted to since Taehyung walked into his front door two hours ago. Fingers making paths in the condensation on his beer can, hoping he doesn’t seem as interested in the answer as he is, Yoongi asks, “Are you planning on sticking around?”

He needs to know, before anything else. Even if he doesn’t want the answer. He needs to know whether or not to stamp down the foolish stalk of hope burrowing roots in his chest, whether he should plan to see Taehyung again or let himself heal over with distance and forget all of this.

Yoongi looks up from the side of his can, meets Taehyung’s eyes already on him. “I am,” Taehyung says, certainty in his voice. Yoongi raises his eyebrows. “You sound sure about that.”

Taehyung looks him over for a moment. “You really have roots down, don’t you? It’s hard for you, that I don’t.”

Yoongi is surprised at his straightforwardness, more surprised by the sudden read of his character, but he supposes they’re slightly past beating around the bush.

“I just like to know if things are worth the risk,” Yoongi tells him calmly.

“Isn’t everything a risk?” Taehyung asks, leaning forward to rest his chin on his palm. He doesn’t sound accusatory, just curious.

Yoongi nods, taking another sip of his drink. “Some are much worse bets than others, though.”

A loud group of drunk-sounding people walks past them into the convenience store, conversation carrying past them, and there’s a lull between them until the door has shut behind them, the sound of its chime muffled.

“I’ve always liked living like this,” Taehyung says when they’re gone. He’s still leaned forward on his arm, looking at Yoongi with something honest behind his eyes. “I try to go where things lead me, go through doors when they open. I feel like I’ve learned a lot by following my instincts, and I like who I am for it.”

Yoongi nods. Taehyung looks like he wants to say something else, like he’s puzzling it out, and Yoongi lets him. “I never really thought, before, about the idea of things finding me, instead of me finding them.”

Before. Yoongi tries not to fill in before you. It feels presumptive.

Taehyung must have heard the implication too, because he shakes his head slightly, says, “I didn’t…I just want you to know I didn’t fly back to Seoul for you, or anything. I’m not that flighty. It’s just that meeting you made me wish I had stayed. I couldn’t shake it. I kept thinking about what else could walk up to me, if something else like that could happen overnight.” He sighs, looking a little shy again. “I don’t know. Maybe I’ve been looking for things I could find, if I just stayed in place for a while.”

Yoongi considers that, tries not to betray how good Taehyung is at taking him by surprise. “I’ve stood in place for years, and I’m not sure I’ve found what you’re looking for either,” he says.

“What do you think I’m looking for?” Taehyung asks him, looking at him with interest.

“I don’t know.” Yoongi shrugs. “Maybe a purpose. Or a dream or something.”

“So you don’t think you have a purpose?”

Yoongi thinks about that, taking a sip from the cold can in his hand. “I think my purpose is to do the best I can for myself and the people I love. I think that’s enough, for me.”

Taehyung sits back in his chair, tilts his head like he’s thinking that over. “I always thought purpose was overrated, actually. The world is big, and living in it is a purpose on its own, isn’t it?” He plays with the tab on his can. “I’ve never really known what I’m looking for.”

“Maybe just something new,” Yoongi offers, mostly wondering aloud.

“Maybe. My point, though, is that I think new can find me where I am. It would be new, to let myself…invest in things. Have something nailed down.”

Yoongi looks over at him, the fidget of his fingers, the pretty fall of his hair over his forehead. Tree roots in Yoongi’s chest threaten to grow, centimeter by centimeter larger, and he isn’t sure if he should let them. He wonders if Taehyung is trying to suggest something to him.

“Like what?” Yoongi asks, hoping he doesn’t sound like he’s fishing.

“A real apartment, for one,” Taehyung says with a little laugh, and Yoongi hopes his smile doesn’t read as wry, self-deprecating. Taehyung wasn’t suggesting, then. “The place I moved out of, it was just a bunch of us flakey artist types, none of us were even on a lease. One of the girls who lived there paid for the place, she’s stupid rich, and she just let people come and go. No one ever did the dishes,” he says with a sigh. “I’m staying with Jimin right now. The thought of dealing with whatever they’ve done with my bedroom since I left is too much.”

Yoongi nods, sitting back against the metal back of his chair. The party of loud drunk people exits the convenience store, one of them singing off-key along with a song playing inside, their friends laughing. “For the record,” Yoongi says when they get far enough away that they aren’t disruptive. “I haven’t been able to shake you either.”

Taehyung looks at him, hard to read.

“You made it look so easy, jumping headfirst off of a cliff. It made me wonder what I’ve been afraid of, the things that looked like sheer drops to me then, and if I would have survived the fall after all.”

“I bet you would have,” Taehyung says, a small smile on his lips. “But things can get a little hectic on the jump. I can understand why people don’t like the jump.”

Yoongi looks him over, eyes flitting between the details of him, like if he looks hard enough he can calculate the risk. He thinks about Taehyung wanting to stay, the way he sounds too-honest like usual. He can make this one, can’t he? Isn’t it a sure enough landing?

Yoongi decides to jump. “Do you…would you want to go on a date, or something?”

A smile spreads wider on Taehyung’s face. “I was hoping you’d say something like that.”

“Then why’d you make me say it?” Yoongi asks him, complaint in his voice.

“I don’t know. I was enjoying watching you avoiding it.”

“Dick,” Yoongi accuses. “You left, you know. I’m not some jilted lover, waiting for you to come back so I can throw myself —”

“I never called you jilted. Do you think you were jilted? Did I jilt you?”

“I’m not 100% on the exact definition of the word jilt. Hang on, let me look it up, and then I’ll tell you if you jilted me.” Yoongi pulls his phone out of his pocket, taps into a search bar. “To suddenly reject or abandon. I think maybe I was jilted.”

“Kind of romantic, if you think about it,” Taehyung says, but Yoongi can tell he’s teasing.

“Dick,” Yoongi repeats again.

Taehyung brings his beer can up to his mouth, but it doesn’t hide his smile. They finish their drinks like that, the atmosphere changed, no longer tense with all the things they weren’t saying. Instead there’s potential hanging around them. And Yoongi lets it take root in his chest, finally, even if he feels tentative about it. There’s a louder feeling drowning out his caution, a hopeful little this could be good.

“Do you want to spend the night at my place?” Yoongi asks him, feeling bolder than he knows what to do with.

“Yeah. I do.” Taehyung says, looking at him with something like fondness. Yoongi returns his smile, small at the corners of his lips. Potential.

On the walk back, Taehyung takes his hand, and Yoongi feels the urge to blush. This could be good, his mind tells him again.

This could be good, he thinks again when Taehyung lies next to him in his bed, looks at him with a smirk at the edge of his lips. He thinks it again when they kiss, something soft and sweet.

“Goodnight,” Taehyung tells him, voice hushed in the dark like it’s a secret he’s telling. Sweet words before bed were the last thing Yoongi was expecting this morning. This could be good, his heart thrums with it, whether he wants it to or not, as he falls asleep.

++

Yoongi wakes up with the heat of Taehyung’s body behind him, but without the weight of dread that comes along with waiting for someone to leave. He lets himself lean back into Taehyung’s touch, and Taehyung, half-asleep, gives a content little sigh.

He feels a little unsure of his footing, he thinks, so thrown off guard by the last twelve hours of his life. He has work later — that fact alone seems surreal. The object of two months of his consternation appeared in his life again, waiting for a kiss. What is he supposed to do with that, in the meantime? He lies there and wonders about it, thinks about how he has to tell Namjoon and Hoseok later.

Taehyung shifts next to him, snakes a hand around Yoongi’s middle and makes another little noise, like he’s stretching. Fuck, it’s nice though, isn’t it? To not be thinking about a looming end? Yoongi turns, flipping around so he’s facing Taehyung, who looks at him with sleepy eyes. His hair is wavy and tousled, his cheeks round with morning puffiness, and he looks…cute. Terribly cute.

“You’re pretty,” Taehyung mumbles, moving toward him until his head rests sweetly on Yoongi’s chest.

Oh god. Yoongi is not equipped for this. He feels himself blush, going still for a moment like he has to recalibrate. “Thank you,” he says eventually, voice quiet. Taehyung looks up at him, eyes blinking slowly like he’s still trying to wake up. “Am I freaking you out?” He asks.

“I don’t think so,” Yoongi answers, taking stock of his own head. He doesn’t feel scared of the affection Taehyung has to offer, just like he’s trying to get over his own wariness. “I’m just not used to this.”

Taehyung hums. It vibrates against Yoongi’s skin. “This is weird, the way we did this.”

Yoongi lets out a chuckle. “No kidding.”

“But I like you,” Taehyung tells him, looking at him again with serious, sleepy eyes. “I tried not to like you so much, before I left, but it didn’t work.” He sighs. “I don’t know, maybe we should be taking it slow.”

“And what would taking it slow look like for us, after the way everything happened?” Yoongi asks him.

Taehyung pauses at that. “Okay. That’s fair. But what if it’s too much? What if I’m too much?”

“What, too nice?” Yoongi asks, sarcasm in his voice.

Taehyung rolls his eyes at him. “No, just a lot. Clingy, even, I’ve been told.”

Yoongi makes a face. “I think maybe you’ve just dated assholes.”

“Not like you, my knight in shining armor,” Taehyung simpers, bringing up a hand to pat at Yoongi’s cheek, teasing.

“Shut up. I don’t mean it like that,” Yoongi fusses back at him. “I don’t think you’re overbearing. It’s just that I tried not to like you too. And I tried to…I don’t know, get over you. And then you showed back up. I’m just getting used to it. To…the idea that this is real.”

“Get over me?” Taehyung asks, sounding amused. Then his expression changes, eyes going wide with realization. “Wait. Wait. You said you were making more music, have you been writing songs about me?”

As always, this conversation has taken a turn Yoongi did not anticipate. He tries to stutter out an argument, but he knows he’s going pink again already, and Taehyung gasps excitedly as he takes this as confirmation. “Oh my god. That’s so sexy.”

“You don’t even know what the songs are!” Yoongi says, even more embarrassed by this than if Taehyung had reacted negatively. “They could be about how you’re terrible!”

Taehyung pauses, like he’s thinking. “That would still be sexy, I think. Ooh, an angry I hate my ex song, but about me? I would feel so powerful.”

“I hate this,” Yoongi voices.

“I want to hear them so bad,” Taehyung says. “Like, they’re your private thing, so you don’t have to show them to me, but I want to hear them so bad.”

“Stop,” Yoongi whines. “I’m not showing you anything ever again.”

“Can I earn it for good behavior?” Taehyung asks him, sounding only half-kidding.

Yoongi narrows his eyes at him. “Maybe.”

“Alright, I’ll try hard, then. I hope I earn enough stickers,” Taehyung says, hand trailing across Yoongi’s chest absently. And Yoongi is so stupidly charmed by him, by his big mouth and stubbornness and the way he can get a rise out of Yoongi and then worm back into his good graces effortlessly. He likes him, in a way he never let himself look too hard at, even when he was gone and Yoongi was left to process.

Yoongi leans down and kisses him, because he can. Because he wants to. Taehyung makes a pleased noise, kisses him back eagerly, and Yoongi wraps an arm around his waist to hold him. They press slow kisses onto each other’s lips, warm skin pressed together, and god if it isn’t fucking idyllic. Yoongi’s half-expecting to snap out of it at some point, like maybe he dreamt up the last twelve hours and he’ll wake up from it soon, alone.

Taehyung is real, though, pressed against him. When he bites down gently on Yoongi’s lower lip, it’s real enough to send a little shock through him. He pulls back a little, and Yoongi has to break himself out of the rhythm of leaning into Taehyung’s touch to realize he’s going to say something. “What’s your stance on morning sex?” Taehyung asks, voice low. It is, unfortunately, painfully hot.

“Positive,” Yoongi breathes back, staring at Taehyung’s lips.

“Wanna fuck you again,” Taehyung tells him, tilting his head to the side to shake a strand of hair out of his face. “Last night was so good.” He has a hand trailing gently up and down Yoongi’s chest now, touch light.

“You don’t want a turn?” Yoongi asks him. He’s fine either way, he supposes, but he got the thought of it stuck in his head last night.

“Hmm,” Taehyung muses. His fingertips brush over one of Yoongi’s nipples, and Yoongi gets a pleasant little jolt. “What’s your schedule today? I’ve got time for both.”

“Yeah, I think I can find room for that, on my very busy schedule,” Yoongi says, leaning back in to press a momentary kiss on Taehyung’s lips.

“You first,” Taehyung says, sounding a little giddy with it, a breathy laugh escaping him. “I wanna take my time this time.”

“You know, I couldn’t find anyone as good as you after you left,” Yoongi tells him, fingertips digging eagerly into Taehyung’s lower back where his hand is resting.

A smile blooms on Taehyung’s face, small and pleased. “Me either,” he says. And then, “I’ve never met anyone else like you, hyung.”

The honesty knocks the wind out of him in a way that’s becoming familiar, with Taehyung. He ducks his head down against Taehyung’s shoulder, his own shoulders shaking with his light laughter. “You’ll be the fucking death of me,” Yoongi mutters, turning his head to press a kiss to the side of Taehyung’s neck.

“Let me get you off first,” Taehyung says, and Yoongi can hear the smirk in his voice without looking.

“Good boy,” Yoongi responds, picking his head up and reaching up to pinch at Taehyung’s cheek a little.

“Good enough to hear a song?” Taehyung asks. Yoongi moves his hand down to pinch at Taehyung’s nipple instead. “Ah,” Taehyung gasps in surprise, and Yoongi stifles his own smirk before leaning in to kiss him.

 

Eventually, they manage to peel themselves out of bed long enough for Taehyung to be able to leave. Yoongi feels punch-drunk, light on his feet after hours of their skin pressed together, their hair wet with sweat, so infatuated and so goddamn attracted to Taehyung that he just wants to stay in this bubble.

Unlike last time, though, he doesn’t feel a scrambling panic at the back of his chest. The fear of how much he wants him, the need to try to invent reasons to spend a dwindling number of hours together. He’ll be back. He’ll be here. And Yoongi will keep treading out of his comfort zone, letting himself tend to something rooted — he has a feeling this one might bloom.

++ ++ ++

Yoongi steps off of the small stage of the club with adrenaline in his veins, a thin sheen of sweat on his forehead, and the sound of his friends’ cheers ringing in his ears. A hand grabs his, urgently, and Yoongi finds himself being pulled in by Taehyung from his spot by the stairs.

“Min Yoongi, I’m your number one fan,” he says, pulling him into a hug and then reaching up with one hand to cup at his cheek. “You’re so fucking hot, are you single?”

“I have a boyfriend, sorry,” Yoongi says back with an easy laugh, pressing a kiss to the side of Taehyung’s head. Taehyung’s thumb strokes across Yoongi’s cheekbone, a dark look in his eyes that shows he’s not entirely kidding.

“He’s not here tonight, he won’t mind if you fuck me in the bathroom,” Taehyung says back, and Yoongi lets out a real laugh, surprised and hoarse from using his voice so much on stage.

“Come home with me tonight instead,” he says, pulling back to look at Taehyung properly, running a hand through his hair. “He might like you.”

“Hyung!” Yoongi hears Hoseok’s loud voice call, and he looks over to see Hoseok hopping so Yoongi can see him over the crowd, waving him over. Taehyung lets him go, but Yoongi keeps his grip on one of Taehyung’s hands, dragging him along through the busy crowd in front of the stage. As soon as he’s within reach, Namjoon pulls him in for another hug, and Hoseok joins in enthusiastically.

“You were great!” Namjoon says, almost yelling to be heard over the sound of the music starting back up for someone else’s set.

The open mics of his twenties, full of young kids treating it like a competition, haven’t appealed to him in years. He’s not sure why it took so long for him to see what else was out there, why he thought he was done getting on a stage. This club is calmer than the ones he, Hoseok and Namjoon used to go to, but the audience was just as happy to be there, loud and appreciative of new faces, everyone performing mostly just for fun, and god it felt good when he got back on stage.

It felt just as good to step off, though, just the way he remembered it feeling. Hoseok and Namjoon have come to all three of the short performances he’s done, and Yoongi can tell they like being back too. The air between them feels like it did when they all performed, one after the other, and then had to spend the rest of the night drinking and dancing and laughing just to get all their excited energy out. It’s been nearly a decade since they have, and doing it again makes them all feel young, he thinks.

He wasn’t sure what Taehyung would think about the experience, when he started coming to this, but that was a misplaced concern. (“That was the hottest thing I’ve ever seen,” Taehyung told him after the first one, his pupils wide. “I wanna be your groupie, hyung.”) Tonight, Seokjin, Jimin and Jungkook came too; it was a touching kind of feeling, having so many people’s support in something so small.

He feels a hand in his hair, and he looks up to find that it’s Seokjin, mussing him roughly. He’s standing just behind Namjoon, wriggled his hand into their hug to do it. “You were cool!” He yells over the music. Jungkook is hanging onto his waist, giving Yoongi a wide smile and a thumbs up, and Jimin has jumped onto Taehyung’s back, into an impromptu piggyback.

“You were right, Taehyung,” Jimin says, arms hanging around Taehyung’s neck. “It was sexy.”

“Stop,” Yoongi complains at them, just a general disapproval of everything they insist on doing, and they both break down into laughter at annoying him.

“Come on,” Namjoon says, pulling away from Yoongi. “Let’s go get a table.”

“And some drinks,” Hoseok adds excitedly, joining Seokjin in messing up Yoongi’s hair.

“Let’s get food after too,” Jungkook says.

Taehyung’s hand is still in his, intertwined tightly, and Yoongi pulls him along, into the happy mess of this thing they’re doing together. When Yoongi turns back to him, he’s smiling a private little smile he gets sometimes, dripping with fondness in that way he’s not good at hiding. And Yoongi just lets himself smile back, big, with teeth and gums and feelings shaped like blossoming flowers and stuck landings.

Around him at their table, his friends rattle off quick conversation, their laughter loud, and Taehyung shakes Jimin off his back before he sits in Yoongi’s lap.

“You’re heavy,” Yoongi complains, pinching his side, but he wraps an arm around Taehyung’s torso to keep him there anyway.

“You love me,” Taehyung counters, turning to give Yoongi a smirk.

“And what does that change?” Yoongi asks him.

“It means you’ll do anything for me if I pout enough,” Taehyung says, voice quiet enough that it’s just for him.

“You’re a little brat,” Yoongi accuses. Taehyung laughs, pleased with that, and stays planted firmly in Yoongi’s lap. Their hands are clasped together again in a way he finds easy to do.

The music thuds around them, vibrating under his feet, and Yoongi is momentarily glad that something is louder than the too-excited beat of his heart. He feels like he’s standing at the midpoint of a mountain. There’s no jump here, just the path he knows he walked up, and the path ahead of him that inclines upward. Higher still. It was nerve wracking, six months ago, even eight months ago when they met, the idea of the climb. He doesn’t feel any risk of falling, though, anymore. His footsteps are steady, still careful when he wants them to be; more importantly, though, it’s easier to figure out where to step when you have someone to grab your hand.

Taehyung leans the side of his head against Yoongi’s, and Yoongi tightens his grip on Taehyung’s waist, looks around at the pink-cheeked laughing faces of his friends. He’s never been so certain that something was worth the risk.